One of the hidden costs of the COVID-19 pandemic for small business owners has been paying for expensive software to pivot their business model from in-person transactions to e-commerce. A customer relationship management (CRM) software platform can track, manage, and engage with the people who are keeping you in business, but the subscription prices for enterprise-level CRM systems like Salesforce and Oracle are out of reach for micro-businesses and solo entrepreneurs.
Marketing consultant Sharon Gutierrez and business partner Monty Morgan developed and launched their Pretty Simple solution in 2021 to help small business owners track, manage, and engage with customers with an affordable, easy-to-use iOS app that can track customer leads.
Gutierrez runs her digital marketing agency for clients nationwide while her business partner, Monty Morgan, is a website and applications designer who has worked alongside Gutierrez for years building websites for clients.
They were talking about developing an easier technology when COVID-19’s forced shutdowns began to hit small businesses especially hard. The Pretty Simple founders began in earnest to build an app that could support the surge in freelance workers.
Gutierrez was living in Atlanta, Ga., and Morgan was living in Kailua, Hawaii, when they decided to move to a new city to work together on their software development and launch. The duo ultimately moved to San Antonio in May after discovering the city’s laid-back atmosphere, mentor network, and local community of tech investors.
The downtown San Antonio coworking community for startups called Geekdom soon became the new home for Pretty Simple. Once Gutierrez was accepted into Geekdom’s Pre-Accelerator program, she dropped everything else to work with mentors while building the Pretty Simple startup.
“We had just finished the app and were ready to release it for iOS, but I put things on pause so I could get the most out of the pre-accelerator,” said Gutierrez. “While I have a background as a solopreneur, I’m new to tech, so I was underestimating my own experiences and how much I knew my target market. Through mentorship I was able to fill in gaps, refine our messaging, and most importantly, I was able to pitch a product that everyone could relate to. I gained a lot of confidence in that program.”
Geekdom Programs Director Leslie Chasnoff worked closely with Gutierrez and Morgan and sees a lot of potential for their company.
“After seeing their application video, I thought [how] these are the type of founders that you see and immediately know that they are hungry, they are driven, and they are going to make this company with or without you,” Chasnoff said.
Aptly named, Pretty Simple is an iOS app that’s straightforward to set up and use with intuitive visuals and dashboard plus automated reminders. Pretty Simple can support solo entrepreneurs and small business owners in a variety of industries, from marketing consultants and website designers to boutique real estate agents, salespeople, and even personal trainers.
The app is also useful for influencers who need to track speaking engagements, and nonprofits who need to keep track of grant deadlines. Fundamentally, the app can be leveraged for solo entrepreneurs and smaller teams as an organizational tool in many ways.
Since completing the Geekdom Pre-Accelerator in August, Pretty Simple won the Geekdom Community Fund quarterly pitch competition for Geekdom members that offers $25,000 in seed funding. The team also made it to the semifinalist round of 25 startups vying to compete in the annual TechFuel $100,000 startup pitch competition.
Gutierrez and Morgan are now familiar faces in San Antonio’s tech district and startup community. After moving into Geekdom in late September, Gutierrez was invited to participate in San Antonio Startup Week as a panelist, while Morgan hosts developer meetups at Geekdom.
Gutierrez plans to develop the app for desktop and Android users, with a target of fall 2022 for the release.
“To me, Pretty Simple has the potential to be a foundational piece in each solopreneur’s journey worldwide,” Gutierrez said. “Our goal in the next eight to 12 months is to reach 1,000 subscribers and the Geekdom Community Fund is going to make a huge impact on moving us being able to do that.”
The featured image is (from left) of Sharon Gutierrez and Monty Morgan, the founders of Pretty Simple, a lead-tracking app built for small businesses. Courtesy photo.