Gatherball co-founder Paul Watts has hung around startups for a long time, working as a software engineer at companies like WildTangent and WildSeed. And yet he still says there’s no feeling like having people wanting to provide a hug for the software that you create.
“That’s what drives me every day,” says Watts.
In the latest episode of Nextcast, Watts talks about how his team is trying to make trip planning fun again by taking email out of the equation. He also talks about a side project he’s working on to get more women and minorities engaged in computer science; why it’s so much easier to get a startup going these days; and how Gatherball survived its first business pivot.
- Even though Watts entered college as a philosophy student, he figured out that computer science was more of his speed. “It turns out, I knew as much, if not more, than the computer science majors,” Watts says of his time The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
- After leaving a position at Microsoft in 2000, Watts entered the startup world. One of his first projects was building a smartphone for teens, but he eventually shifted “from atoms to bits” and traded building hardware for building software.
- Gatherball wasn’t always the visual travel-planning guide that it is today. The first incarnation of the product wasn’t bringing in numbers like the team had hoped it would. “We had to thoroughly change the direction,” Watts says, explaining that it was a struggle to give up on an idea the team loved.
- “It’s time to pivot when experiments reach diminishing returns.” That’s the lesson Watts and his team learned while trying to save their original product idea. “We started talking to people and asking what we could do,” he adds. Brainstorming led them to create their new product, Gatherball.
- “Startups are much, much easier now,” Watts says. But the challenge: “It encourages you to be humble and to continue to think,” he says. “I learn something new every day.”
Previously on GeekWire: Startup Spotlight: Gatherball looks to take the stress out of planning events and getaways
Nextcast founder Jeff Dickey is passionate about technology, business and philosophy. He works as the chief cloud architect at Redapt, a Redmond-based cloud and big data infrastructure company. Additional reporting by Kate Stull. [Editor's note: GeekWire is proud to partner with Jeff Dickey who produces the Nextcast entrepreneur interview series].