The company of the day is Cannla, based in Singapore. Cannla.com is an auction website that provides services for free to the average user. You will find below an interview with Marshall Jones, Development Manager for Cannla. All the best to them and congrats for being the startup of the day!

Website: www.cannla.com.


Interview with Marshall Jones, Development Manager for Cannla

Who are you?

Marshall Jones, Development Manager for Cannla which is a Singaporean based auction website. I've been working for Cannla for just over a year now during which time we have created the site from scratch using Microsoft technologies.

What did you do before creating your company?

Before working for Cannla I worked in New Zealand as a software developer for another auction site called Trade Me (trademe.co.nz). This was the largest website in the country and where I cut my teeth on building scalable applications.

How did you get the idea? What s the genesis?

We saw that there was a gap in the market in Singapore. There are a lot of auction websites, only eBay has a significant market presence and it isn't the most user friendly site. We knew it would be easy for us to do a better job than them. we may not be aiming to be as big but by making life easier for people to buy and sell we think we will make their lives better.

What do you sell? What is your company’s mission?

We provide our services for free to the average user. It's completely free to buy and sell unless you choose to pay to make your listing stand out. For commercial entities we provide stores which give them custom URLs, branding and the ability to get in touch with their customers in ways that normal non-paying clients cannot.

What is your market?

Everyone! In this depressed market it's a great way for individuals to make money on the side or find a bargain for yourself. For small retailers it is a cheap way to gain a presence on the web. For larger retailers we still offer value because we can drive more traffic to their products then they could do themselves as we have an existing user base. They also do not need to spend the expense of maintaining and hosting their own application.

Funding history? VCs? BA?

We are currently privately funded but are now beginning to look for future funding.

Growth? Internationalization?

We have only been up and running for a month (official launch was 1 Feb) so growth is hard to gauge. With over 500 members joining in the first month however we still look to increase our growth rate.

How many employees do you have? How many developers?

We are working with a team of around 11 people. 8 are located in Singapore and 3 are based in Australia and New Zealand. The site was designed with one key developer and two junior developers.

Are you hiring? If yes, what? Where?

We are currently looking to hire more developers in August. Prior skills at least 3 of the following are key: C#, SQL, CSS, HTML, JavaScript and general systems design Anyone is welcome to apply but we will give preference to anyone who is a problem solver above all and can demonstrate a consistent ability to punch above their weight.

Which platform are you building on? Why?

We have extensive Microsoft experience so it pays to leverage that. We chose the newest products from Microsoft as they provide some amazing productivity and performance gains. LINQ, IIS 7 configuration, SQL Table value parameters etc all let us spend less time writing code.

Do you have any Software IP? Is there something that you’re the only one to do on the market?

We promote simplicity above technology. We pride ourselves on less text, bigger pictures and faster loading pages.

Who’s your role model?

It's hard to pick one person. If I did I doubt it would be a technology person. More likely a scientist like Enrico Fermi or similar. I think anyone that strives to make the world a better place by providing knowledge to others can be considered a role model.

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

Just because something is first to market does not mean that that area is no longer open to competition. I think there is a lot of room for existing products to be superseded by similar offerings that just do it better. Convergence is an area that seems to be key at the moment. Cell phones are finally powerful enough to run proper applications and I now communicate through twitter and email via my iPhone rather than a computer unless I need to try an essay. Ultimately anything that can let users easily share and analyze information is a potential goldmine.

Looking for funding? If yes, how much?

Yes but we are unsure of the amount.

What about the BizSpark Program? What do you think?

BizSpark is genius! There is no longer any reason for a startup to avoid or pirate MS products when they start. I think the 3 year time span could potentially be extended out to 4 years. 3 years is probably the minimum amount of time for a startup to begin producing a profit and if you are running a couple of SQL instances, Exchange, TFS and whatnot your bill could be crippling.

Any advice to young Software entrepreneurs?

New trends are not always worth following. Make sure you have the basics down instead of chasing the new hotness. Try to endure the hard times however because working for yourself is ultimately the most satisfying thing you can do. Seeing people use your creations is great.

Anything else you’d like to say?

We would love to get more involved promoting BizSpark. We believe we have built the best product in our market from both a users perspective and a technical one.