Partners for life, Bruce Wren and Caroline Trotman, also decided to join hands in business to solve a challenge not addressed by any present-day platform. Their powerful software WordFlow is a breakthrough answer to optimising content for the web and mobile in a digitally consumed world, especially for information-rich organisations.
Tell us about WordFlow and its audience.
WordFlow is a software company that digitises your knowledge base by transforming documents in Word and PDF formats – that predate the web era – into HTML web and mobile formats. WordFlow means ‘goodbye PDF’, as once we convert your knowledge to the web, everything is viewable on mobile; there is no need to download anything, and all related information is a click away. WordFlow suits information-rich companies who want to give their customers a friendly and efficient online experience.
What were you doing when the idea about WordFlow came to you?
For the 10 years before we started WordFlow, Bruce built a CMS business focused on managing the content of large government and corporate websites. Caroline meanwhile was pursuing a corporate career. As the market matured, it was increasingly difficult to differentiate as most content management systems did the same job.
The “a-ha” moment came when we realised there was no way to automate the placing of large amounts of content online. Populating a website either was a manual process or achieved using the quick attachment of a PDF to a web page. The second “a-ha” came when we realised that once information was online we could enrich it by contextualising and cross-referencing it. This meant our clients could tailor information to their customers.
What is the story behind the name ‘WordFlow’?
It’s all about making information fluid. We wanted a name that embodied our ability to make information flow from legacy systems and pre-web formatted documents into today’s web and mobile format that everyone now uses.
What are some of the challenges you have faced in building your team?
We subscribe to the philosophy that you don’t build a business, you build people and the people build the business. We made some poor hiring decisions early on and soon learned that a big corporate CV doesn’t always work in a startup. We look for passion, understanding of our vision and a willingness to roll up your sleeves. We are very proud of the team we are building.
What is your vision for WordFlow?
We have always believed that technology should come to the people, not the other way around. Certainly, it has to be better, faster, cheaper, but technology is only ever great if it solves real problems and can be used by everyday people, not just the tech experts. Our vision is to build a bridge from the desktop to the web – a platform that allows anyone to be a web author, and any website visitor to be a few clicks from the information they need. In short, to be a leader in providing friendly technology that makes people’s lives better.
Apart from co-founding and leading WordFlow, you are also life partners. How does this affect your professional and personal synergy?
We have very complementary skills, which was key to our decision to start the business. Bruce has always been a driver of sales and business development, while Caroline is marketing and operations, delivering the projects and managing our customer relationships. We work very well together. It can be a little intense at times, but knowing we are building something for our family, our wonderful team and ourselves makes it all worthwhile.
While juggling work and personal commitments, how do you find time for yourself?
Not as much as we would like but we are both keen runners, which we find helps to take the pressure off and wind down. We also love to ski with our boys, which is our favourite family holiday. We would love to say we don’t take work home, but…!
What advice would you give to those looking to become an entrepreneur?
1. Build a product or service that solves real problems.
2. Find people who share your vision. Fire quickly if they don’t fit.
3. Have a clear strategy, but be ready to pivot if it is not working.
4. Be prepared to be terrified and elated in equal measure in your early days.
5. Start the way you intend to continue – be values driven, disciplined and focused on your goals.
If you had a magic wand, what is something you would change right here, right now?
The willingness and ability for leading companies to effectively engage with startups. Our experience is that there is a lot of rhetoric about innovation, but an inability to execute quickly. Startups don’t have the time or resources to navigate huge bureaucracies and 12-month sales cycles. People with an innovation portfolio in large companies need to be empowered to innovate.