Local company Tin Can Technologies has been around for less than a year, but it’s already taking the stage as a go-to custom software development company, with a customer base ranging everywhere from Columbia to Las Vegas. Columbia residents Chad Haney and Anna Swacker founded the business in May of 2014 and specialize in creating websites and custom software applications for companies.
“Our projects range and vary in size,” Swacker says. “From small website tweaks to entire back-office systems, we do it all. Our projects cost-wise range from a few hundred dollars to six figures.”
Haney and Swacker already had a long history of software programming before Tin Can Technologies was even a thought. Swacker graduated from the University of Missouri College of Engineering in 2012 with a degree in computer science. Haney has been developing software for more than 10 years and previously worked as director of technology for MedSocket, a health care IT startup based out of Columbia. Making the decision to quit their jobs and focus full time on creating their own software solutions company was a bit nerve wracking for both but worth it in the end.
“It’s a lot more fun to get new projects and work with new clients all the time,” Haney says. “I could pick and choose the clients I worked with. It was a lot more fun building things from the ground up than maintaining something that was already built.”
The fun part
Tin Can Technologies focuses on custom software development, building everything from websites to office software. More specifically, the company has found a niche in health care software, which entails developing HIPAA-compliant applications that run the gamut from patient management software to scheduling software and EHR integration. The back-office applications include accounting software, employee management software and project management software.
“It’s fun to pick a project, and it’s fun to get started on it,” Swacker says. “We especially love the getting-started part of it. Planning, mapping it out, trying to figure out where each piece of the puzzle fits is something we both really enjoy. It’s really fun to see a new project start because that’s the most exciting part of our business.”
Haney and Swacker say they’ve tried to maintain an active participation in local startup gatherings. They took third place at Startup Weekend last year with The Wandering Turtle, their idea for travel application. Haney was awarded Hardest Worker of the weekend.
“The team had a great presentation and sold the idea and platform excellently,” said Heidi Fuhrmann, organizer of Startup Weekend. “The idea appealed to a millennial audience who want to travel and experience unique places that have been vetted by people who travel similarly.”
“We were just thinking we’re going to have fun, drink some beer, code a little, hang out and pick an idea,” Swacker says. “I had an idea for a travel application, and Chad said, ‘Why don’t you pitch it?’ We had an algorithm that Chad created that was phenomenal. At the end of it, to have all that be compiled and have it recognized was really exciting. We had a lot of fun doing it.”
Haney says the startup weekends can be really beneficial for anyone
who has an idea for a company or application.
“The mentors are great help, and the judges are really helpful, too,” he says. “It’s more than just an idea. You have to come up with the whole business plan and do a presentation. It’s an entire company by the time you’re done pitching.”
Haney and Swacker say they’ve been making an effort to build strategic partnerships as well. Tin Can Technologies is a development partner with Firehost, which is one of the health care industry’s leading secure cloud hosting companies.
“It helps grow us, and it helps them grow, too.” Swacker says. “It helps our clients out for sure.”
Developing the business
Building a company from scratch is no cakewalk, especially for two software developers with little experience in the business side of things.
“We’re a business, but we’re software developers,” Haney says. “Figuring out all the other stuff is a challenge. Right now, we are small. We want to keep it lean; we don’t want to have a lot of expense. We do our own accounting, our own marketing, HR stuff. That’s kind of the challenge there.”
They stay competitive by keeping prices reasonable and thinking about new, creative ways to develop software and websites for companies.
“A lot of the time, they go out trying to find a product that is prebuilt and does what they want it to do, and they can’t find that,” Haney says. “Then they discover our company. We can be pretty competitive.”
They’ve done more then just stay afloat though. Since starting the company
last May, Tin Can Technologies has gained customers in Columbia, St. Louis, Texas, Las Vegas, California and Arizona.
“We like the Columbia market, but we’ve had really good luck in being competitive, especially on rates, with companies in bigger cities like Las Vegas,” Swacker says. “We’re cheaper here in the Midwest than they are out there.”
Right now, the company is just comprised of Haney, Swacker and two other developers. Looking toward the future, they say they’d like to stay headquartered in Columbia but move out of their home office base and into a small office in town.
“We want to grow,” Haney says. “It’s a pretty good area to stay in, especially when we start hiring developers. We’re going to continue to focus on the same niches we are in now, which is health care and back-office applications, and try to be the go-to custom solutions company in those sectors. We’ll focus on St. Louis, Kansas City, East Coast, West Coast as well as Columbia for most of our business because it really seems to be where we succeed. Five years from now, we hope to be in an office somewhere here with three to five employees cranking out code still.”