Grant McCall is originally from a tiny rural town on the mid-north coast of NSW. While still in high school he started making websites and shooting photos. Soon after school he moved to Melbourne. Having a good mix of creative and technical skills Grant found plenty of freelance work across many different fields: UI design, front-end development, photography, video, film VFX and writing. Eventually he managed to narrow his focus and interest down to the exploding tech and software scene.
Grant spent a lot of his 20s living and freelancing in New York, Montreal and Europe. When he returned home to Australia in 2015 he founded rounded.com.au.
I’ve learned to never get too precious about an idea. Ideas we need could come from anywhere and we always accept them gladly, so whenever we can help anyone else with an idea we try to do just that.
Tell us a little bit about your idea and what made you decide to take the plunge and make it happen?
Freelancing is really up and down with lots of unknowns, especially when it comes to finances. For nearly 10 years I just winged it, hacking up spreadsheets and word docs. It was really quite sloppy and made tax time painful.
I spent a long time searching for a solution and couldn’t find anything which worked for me. There were plenty of “accounting” apps, but they were either too complicated and expensive or just didn’t work for an Australian freelancer.
So I decided to solve my own problem and created Rounded.com.au together with Igor, another freelance developer I met during my travels through Europe.
We wanted to build something that was simple, visually appealing and allowed creative freelancers to focus on what they do best – creating brilliant work for their clients.
Not long after to returning to Australia I met up with a long-time colleague and friend, Nick Beames, who came on board as an advisor and our first investor. Nick also put me in touch with Olly Garside, who’d just finished up after a long stint at LinkedIn, he believed in the idea and had the right skills to help take Rounded.com.au to market.
Can you explain your business model for us?
We charge a monthly subscription to use Rounded; there’s two pricing tiers – an entry level for freelancers who might be just starting out and the other for someone who’s been in the game for a while and has many clients.
What are you working on right now and what are you most excited about in the next year?
We’ve just released functionality that lets freelancers easily accept credit card payments. Now we’re finishing up work on time tracking and letting users design their own invoices – which is really important to creative freelancers.
Next up is bank feeds for expense tracking and some really intelligent time tracking features that’ll automatically log time for your client / project depending on what software and file you have open.
The next year is going to be a lot of fun as it’s all about growth. We are starting to gain some real traction in the creative freelancing space and we’re looking forward to seeing that continue.
How do you make ideas happen?
Regular communication is key given we are all in different locations. We use Slack and Skype heavily which helps to compensate for the fact we can’t all be in the same room.
Being a small team we’re lucky that we can execute ideas pretty quickly. Igor and I take the lead on most of the product development, but Olly’s interaction with our channel partners and customers is also really important to the product strategy. On the business side of things Olly, Nick and myself talk almost every day about new ideas and if something shows some traction we explore it further.
What role have mentors played in your business life?
I’m lucky enough to have had great mentors throughout my career. Nick Beames, who’s been a mentor of mine for nearly 10 years was the first to invest in Rounded. He’s always there to bounce ideas off and quite often throws better ones back at me.
What does your typical day look like?
Most mornings I start with a Skype call with Olly and Igor. From there I’ll head to Fishburners in Sydney, which is Australia’s largest coworking space. Generally I’ll spend most of the day designing and writing code.
What challenges have you faced when starting or growing a business/organisation in Australia?
Cost is definitely one of them, having spent a lot of time freelancing abroad when you come back to Australia the extra cost for products and services is immediately noticeable.
Technically the banks are a little frustrating. We’re working on bank integrations for users to automatically pull their income and expenses, but unless you have massive clout there’s no interface there to get read-only data directly from the bank. We’re using third party services for now, which is working well but I’d love to see Australian banks move a little quicker and provide their customers better access to their own data.
What is one idea you are willing to give away for free?
I’ve learned to never get too precious about an idea. Ideas we need could come from anywhere and we always accept them gladly so whenever we can help anyone else with an idea we try to do just that.
Who else do you think is doing some really cool stuff in your industry in Australia at the moment?
Working out of Fishburners in Sydney, which is home to dozens of startups, I get the opportunity to meet people doing awesome things every day. Recently I heard Alec Lynch from DesignCrowd speak at a Fishburners event, those guys are doing exceptionally well.
Also, David Mah from Kepler Analytics has really impressed us, they provide real-time analytics on customers in physical commercials spaces.
Campaign Monitor have been killing it for quite a long time too.
What about internationally?
The guys at intercom.io and marvelapp.com are really on top of their game, Intercom have transformed the way SAAS apps communicate and learn from their users and Marvel have blended the design and prototype workflows seamlessly.
Can you name 3 websites you would recommend to our readers?
The other site I check frequently is awwwards.com – it’s the best showcase of web design work in the world. The quality of work is incredible.
And The Verge is always a good place to keep up to date.
Are there opportunities for people to get involved with your idea?
Absolutely, we’re open to hearing from potential investors and there’s plenty of opportunities for anyone looking for intern experience in mobile and web development. Check us out at rounded.com.au
What’s your favourite bar/café/restaurant?
In Sydney I love The Pocket Bar in Darlinghurst, and in Melbourne Olly and I can’t go past The Shanghai Dumpling House – just be prepared to get in a queue!