Apps have been solving our problems since smartphones became vital hand attachments nearly a decade and a half ago. Since then, millions of apps have been created to fill just about every need, big or small: From entertainment and gaming to organization and lifestyle and some others you likely didn’t know you had.
But when there weren’t digital solutions for issues two Indianapolis entrepreneurs faced daily, they set out to create apps themselves. Meet Carrie Griffith, founder and CEO of baby photo app Little Nugget, and Meredith Gradle, CEO and founder of Iris Works, an app designed to help photographers with the business of their businesses.
Carrie Griffith, Little Nugget
The idea for Little Nugget was born when, well, Griffith’s own children (Leslie, 5, Evelyn, 3, and newborn Charlie) were born. “In my daughter’s first year, I took 15,000 photos!” Griffith said. “With a smartphone in my hand all day, it’s easy to take the pictures; but the really hard part is turning them into something meaningful.”
Sure, scrapbooks and other traditional milestone markers existed, but they didn’t fit with Griffith’s busy life as a working mom. So she started to create an app to make it easier for parents to organize, commemorate, and document their children’s lives. “I wanted something that was easy and could be done with one hand during late-night feedings,” she said.
But it didn’t come without some unexpected hurdles.“Finding the right balance between starting my own business, growing my business, and spending time with family has been difficult,” Griffith said. “As a solo founder, I am responsible for managing partnerships and deadlines, making informed product and marketing decisions, and anything else that fits into the day-to-day. Balance is something I will always have to battle, but I, fortunately, have a wonderful support system in my husband, family, and friends.”
By 2016, the app was up and running, and there’s one very simple thing that sets it apart from other photo apps, Griffith said. “Unlike 95 percent of baby photo apps out there, Little Nugget was created by parents, for parents,” she said. “Little Nugget is not an app from a big developer trying to capitalize on the latest trend. Little Nugget was bootstrapped out of a love for documenting and sharing my children’s lives with the people I love most.”
Download Little Nugget here.
Meredith Gradle, Iris Works
Like Griffith, Gradle created her business to answer a specific need she encountered, but couldn’t find the right solution for. “I had my photography business and had grown that to the point where I had so many clients that I was losing track of things,” she said. “I knew I needed a system in place, other than my pen and paper process. I tried nearly all of the programs that were available at the time and realized very quickly they were all incredibly difficult to use. I knew there had to be a simpler program that not only I would benefit from, but other photographers as well.”
So in 2014, she began the process of creating Iris Works, which launched in early 2015. Iris Works began as a web app, but as of this month is available for mobile as well. The company has seen steady growth, which Gradle, the lone founder with no technical background, learned to manage. “I quickly realized I needed to surround myself with the right experts and learn from them,” she said. “I also quickly learned how difficult and all-consuming it is to launch a startup. It’s hard to put in so much time and effort without an immediate payoff.”
This included surrounding herself with the right team—“all women, by the way”—to continue to help Iris Works grow. “Investing in people has been the biggest reason why we have seen consistent growth,” Gradle said. “Finding those people has been difficult, and it’s taken a few years to get to where we are now, but we now have a strong team and are poised for even more growth in 2020 because of them.”
Gradle’s needs as a photographer who owned her own business proved to be similar to that of others. And that’s why her customers are so important. “Knowing that the people we serve are thriving in their businesses means we are getting it right,” she said. “Photographers, and now artists, who utilize our platform are small business owners who rely on Iris to make running a business easier. So we put a lot of effort into making sure our users feel supported and heard.”
Check out Iris Works here.
Amy Bartner is a regular Indy Maven contributor and her favorite app is—was—a game called Fieldrunners that she deleted from her phone as part of a New Year’s resolution to be more productive in the evenings.