Here, Tim takes ten minutes out of his busy day to discuss growing up and growing a successful business.

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Managing director, company founder, software specialist, business consultant. Once a tech child prodigy who still marvels at the modern smartphone. Born and bred in North London and, remaining true to his roots, an investor in the local economy. This is Tim Kloss, MD of AppDrawn, a company he laid the foundations for in 1999 and where he’s remained at the helm for over two decades.

Here, Tim takes ten minutes out of his busy day to discuss growing up and growing a successful business.

AppDrawn has recently moved to a new office in Watford, but the company hasn’t relocated far – and it’s an area Tim knows well. He grew up and went to school in Hertfordshire and with contacts and connections in the area, Watford seemed the ideal spot to start his own software development and consultancy firm.

The local feel and bespoke, personable approach to doing business have remained at the core of AppDrawn’s approach. However, as the company’s size and influence have grown, so too have its footprint and customer base: the AppDrawn team are now based in both Barcelona and Watford, and the company works with partners across the UK to design, build and deliver mobile and web apps.

Demand for software development is certainly booming. We’re emerging from a pandemic period that has seen digitalisation accelerate at an incredible rate. Back in the 90s, did Tim – did any of us? – foresee just how much our work and lives would rely on software, digital services, and web and mobile apps? “At the turn of the millennium, it seemed like the technology possibilities were endless,” says Tim. “That’s still true now, but back then it was even more emerging in terms of consumer engagement. Now, online engagement with consumers has obliterated anything else.”

The past 12 months have set a benchmark in what can be achieved when businesses invest in technology to improve engagement. We can now book and attend medical appointments virtually, have food delivered to our doorstep in minutes, communicate with brands through chatbots. Whether it’s a digital native start-up looking to launch with a new mobile app, or a bricks and mortar brand wanting to overhaul legacy software, the possibilities really are endless.

But let’s take a step back. In 1999, computers were cumbersome, and few of us had mobile phones – it wasn’t until the following year that Nokia released its 3310, for instance. However, we’d also experienced the dotcom boom and Tim – having grown up with “computers all around” – was looking to the future. In fact, it was this environment that may well have helped shape his vision and outlook for the company.

“My parents had jobs which meant we had computers at home before that was the norm.  Two examples stand out for me - 1) having a DVD burner before people even knew what DVDs were! 2) I also remember using Photoshop (version 3) for school homework, long before it was well heard of.” He was, he says, “well ahead of the curve in terms of 'growing up' on computers.”

Despite this – and counter to the perception of much of today’s younger generation – Tim “didn’t particularly spend a huge proportion of my time on technology; I’d always go outside with friends and explore the outdoors.  I still had one of those classic pre-technology childhoods but computers were also just subtly there replacing pen and paper.”

As well as exploring, Tim spent his earlier years working. This isn’t unusual in itself – what’s a little different though is that this hard-working ethos segued into setting up a business. “My first freelance jobs were before I even left school so I was pretty set up to give it a go,” he says. “Within a few months I’d set up my first company - the consulting vehicle which was the initial incarnation of AppDrawn.” Tim drew on his passion for and knowledge of technology, as well as his work experience and knowledge of the sector to launch a company which would stand out from its rivals. The difference? AppDrawn “really, truly understands a project from end-to-end. We really get the need and the business case.” This has remained a major differentiator for the company.

His original vision for AppDrawn hasn’t wavered much either. In 1999, he says, he wanted to “really deliver software that automated things people spend ages doing by hand.” And now, quizzed on the most memorable project AppDrawn has worked on, he reflects, “We’ve worked with one particular customer to deliver automation wins that involved two major launches for them. In both cases, it had to go right on day one.” The pressure was on, but “we obviously put in good preparations to ensure it would go right from the off.” And as a result, “It was so satisfying to see both go so smoothly and really lift the business.”

What’s the secret to lifting businesses and delivering projects smoothly – and at the same time running an app development company successfully? Simple: “an ability to communicate, particularly under pressure - and - the ability to delegate.” He may oversee his team, client engagement, and project development, but Tim also has a hands-on approach in all of these areas. The close relationships with clients and active role he played in his early days at AppDrawn are still evident today.

Tim continues to work closely with all of the company’s clients, creating innovative solutions that deliver for the bespoke needs of every business and every end user. A lot has changed in the tech world since the 1990s, but it seems one thing hasn’t changed at all. When asked what motivated him to launch and develop AppDrawn, Tim answers simply: “to help people.”

Published by AppDrawn
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