Ian Barford had an epiphany during COVID, thinking back to the small businesses he used to work for in his youth. That's when he got the idea to start ClearlyApps, an agency building purpose-built software for small businesses. Inspired by the many inefficiencies he experienced when he was working as a teenager at these companies, Ian set out to get his first customer to test the idea with. An engineer by training, he put his doctorate in engineering management to use and took a scientific approach to his first customer's problems, providing feedback and developing a solution. "The customer loved it, and that was when I knew I was on to something," he says. Ian soon found that creating custom apps without a no-code tool was costly and hard to scale. Inspired to continue building out his agency, he turned to Glide as the platform for all future client projects.
One of his longest-standing clients owns a pool company. Their biggest problem was not knowing where their employees were or when they clocked in. As Ian says, "We gave them a custom-built app. They can now sort clients by whether they're active or prospects and by location. They have an HR Directory or Portal that tracks employees' time and allows them to add documentation, training videos, and more. It even has one-click driving directions, pre-populated text messages, and an approval cycle for employees and owners. The owner can be onsite without being onsite."
When asked what his advice is for other aspiring agency-builders, he suggests giving away an app for six months to a company that needs it as a quick way to build a case study and some buzz on social media. "If you want to monetize and build apps for others, Glide's pricing structure is user-friendly. To start, you can bootstrap it completely, use Glide's components, and crank out projects quickly and easily."
ClearlyApps has no shortage of customers who rely on Glide to run their daily business processes, whether it's clocking in employees, creating invoices, or providing amazing customer service. Perhaps most importantly, Ian says building ClearlyApps and making his customers happy has helped him find a greater purpose. He shares: