Startup of the Day – RIM Systems

The BizSpark startup of the day is RIM Systems, based in the US. You will find below an interview with John Sheehan, Founder of RIM Systems. All the best to them and congrats for being the startup of the day!


Interview with John Sheehan, Founder of RIM Systems

Tell us who you are and your role in the company.

I am the founder and sole employee. While I’ve contracted out various tasks throughout the history of RIM Systems, I am the primary driving force behind it.

What did you do before creating your company?

I’ve worked in various IT roles since starting my first computer repair business while I was in high school. I’ve done computer repair, web site design, help desk, desktop support, systems administration and for the past 5 years, .NET web site and application development.

How do you feel being the most promising ‘Startup of the Day’ per Microsoft BizSpark?

It’s nice to be noticed. That’s the great thing about the internet these days. Single-employee companies run on the side can build something worth mentioning!

What is your company’s mission?

We want to build user experiences that empower people to do greater things than they could have done without our apps. It’s intentionally vague. I don’t want to limit where we take this thing.

How did you get the idea for your company?

I’ve always loved sports and I’ve played them for as long as I can remember. A few years back I built a site for my softball league that became very popular and people were always asking me if they could buy a version for their league. After hearing that enough times I thought there would be no better way to combine my two biggest passions (sports and the web) than starting a company to focus on the intersection. Solving my own problems has been a great way to keep my perspective focused on the user first.

Tell us about your funding history. Are you currently looking for funding? If so, how much?

I had the opportunity to build a site for the Minnesota Twins Community Fund ( that provided me the necessary seed capital to get RIM Systems off the ground. We’ve been bootstrapped ever since. We are not currently actively seeking funding, but I would be open to discussing any funding possibilities.

How many employees do you have? How many developers?

Me, and me. As I mentioned, I’ve contracted out some work along the way, but I’m the only employee right now.

Are you hiring? If yes, what are you hiring and where?

We are not hiring. I’m definitely looking for a designer to compliment my development skills, but it won’t be a traditional hire.

Which platform are you building on? Why?

If you retrace my programming lineage it goes back to BASIC on an Apple II followed up by Visual Basic 3 some years later. Since then I’ve been developing on the Microsoft stack doing ASP/VBScript when I first moved to the web and then onto ASP.NET/C# around the time .NET 2.0 was released. In general, I don’t find that the platform limits what I want to do and while it was tempting to jump ship once I reached the limits of where ASP.NET Webforms would benefit us, ASP.NET MVC jumped in and rescued me from Rails J Microsoft has shown some real progress opening up the platform through making source available and shipping great open source libraries like jQuery with Visual Studio that I feel confident the platform will continue to meet my needs. And with the addition of Azure I can continue reusing my existing skill set to develop cloud applications without needing to invest a lot of time learning a new framework, which is very exciting.

Where do you see opportunities today in the Software/internet area?

Obviously mobile is huge. You can’t release a product now without addressing the mobile story from the get go. The more powerful the devices in our pockets get, the less we need to spend any time on a computer. I think it will be key to make sure your applications reach people where they are. Some people will want a mobile-only experience while others will hold on to the traditional desktop experience (or the analog experience) for as long as they can. Connecting people across disparate mediums will be a distinguisher between good products and bad ones.

What do you think about the BizSpark Program?

BizSpark has been fantastic for RIM Systems. It gives us access to everything we need to build the products we want to build. BizSpark is another indication of Microsoft recognizing competitive pressures and stepping up to the plate and addressing them. It hasn’t always been sexy to be a startup on the Microsoft platform, but BizSpark is helping to turn the tide.

Do you have any advice for young Software entrepreneurs?

Just build it! Don’t waste time pouring over ideas. Take the first one that comes to mind and start building it until you either run into a dead end or realize a better idea. You’ll learn WAY more by trying to solve a problem then you will thinking about it. Also, always question your assumptions. Learn how to ask good questions and turn problems inside out. Users will love to tell you the solutions they want, but listen for the underlying problem and make sure you solve that.

Who’s your role model?

Anyone who says, “There must be a better way!” then goes out and builds a better way.

What’s the ONE THING you would like readers to take away from this interview

Genuinely care about your users.

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