Robin Warren of Blue Cat Reports tells us what it’s like to live life running a calm business.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Blue Cat Reports.
Robin Warren: I’ve been working in software for over 20 years, always at companies building dashboards or reporting solutions. I’ve worked on reporting tools for BBC election coverage and NHS reporting tools, and finally, 7 years ago decided I wanted to have a go at starting my own business. Our first product was Corrello, a reporting tool for Agile teams using Trello. Later we built Blue Cat Reports and moved everything under the Blue Cat brand.
Do you have small habits that made a meaningful impact on your life and business?
Robin Warren: I tend to change my business habits as required. For a while, at the start of this year, I adopted a habit of working on a different marketing channel or CRO opportunity every day, rotating the same 5 channels each week. That meant I built up some good momentum in each channel and could experiment with things that were a low priority in the grand scheme but useful to get that specific channel moving. I have since switched back to focusing over longer periods on larger projects. But the habit served its purpose for a time.
In life, I have a habit of completing a retrospective at least annually (I also do this for the business much more frequently). This is a great chance to step back and see what is working, what could be improved, and identify concrete actions to take. Often big problems have simple solutions, and continued review of your progress towards goals keeps you focused on trying new solutions when required. This has helped with a bunch of things. One definite example was getting my fitness back after having kids, and starting the business meant not really giving that the attention it needed for a couple of years. I’m not running marathons or anything, but I can walk upstairs without thinking my heart is going to explode.
How does Blue Cat Reports market its product/services online?
Robin Warren: We are lucky to have a great marketing channel in the Trello Power-Up directory. Beyond that, we mainly focus on content and email marketing.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to manage your online marketing?
What is your hiring policy/process, and how do you retain your employees?
Robin Warren: We don’t often hire as we are a very small team and don’t often need to replace employees. I am not sure if you would call it a retention process, but we generally try to operate as a ‘calm’ company. No unnecessary deadlines or stress!
How are you funding your growth?
Robin Warren: All our growth is funded by our customers.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Robin Warren: We have 10 products at this point, and each has a number of competitors in the Trello power-up directory. We don’t pay too much attention to them and focus instead on talking to our customers.
Tell us a customer success story of yours.
Robin Warren: We recently released a new form builder for Trello. It is the first form builder that lets people easily include custom fields from Trello. It was one of the Top 10 fastest growing new power-ups of 2021. A lot of customers have been switching from more complex solutions which were slower, more expensive, and less reliable (maybe we should charge more)
Hunter Jisha from Good Faith Energy had fairly typical feedback for us.
“We are using Forms by Blue Cat for our service ticket system for customers. Before, we were using Google Forms and Zapier to create cards in Trello. It was slow and expensive to operate. With Forms by Blue Cat, the process is so much simpler, faster and we have added the ability for customers to attach photos with their cards.”
Your final thoughts?
Robin Warren: Keep calm and carry on!