Tech Mecca: Simply Made Apps

by on Feb 17, 2015

For longtime friends Bill Burgess and Brandon Medenwald, all that stood between them and a successful project was the thing they needed the most: A Good Idea.

For far too long, Medenwald used subpar in/out systems that attempted to keep track of a company’s employees on a whiteboard or bulletin board. When he moved to a digital in/out board at his last job, the same troubles remained: people forgot to sign in and out and data was constantly out of date.

“At the time I’d been joking for years already about using this other digital in/out board that was awful,” Medenwald said. “I’d been joking that I could do a better job in a weekend than these guys had with their product.”

Then it occurred to him: capitalize on the fact that people are rarely without their cell phones. He approached Burgess with the idea of creating an in/out app that utilizes geofencing, or GPS-based boundaries. Once Burgess was on board, the two men and another developer locked themselves in Medenwald’s basement for 48 hours.

Copious amounts of coffee, beer and Futurama episodes later, Simple In/Out was born.


Bill Burgess, Brandon Medenwald and Randy Fish explain the story behind their Fargo, ND startup 'Simply Made Apps'

Left to right: Bill Burgess (founder/ iOS developer), Randy Fish (senior software architect) and Brandon Medenwald (founder/web developer)

The company, officially dubbed Simply Made Apps, launched in January 2011 and now serves thousands of users around the globe from Fargo to Finland. Companies that range from IT staffs to firefighters use the app for a host of reasons, including timekeeping, emergency management and more.

“We didn’t want it to be super flashy like the product that he (Medenwald) was using beforehand, like 100 different things you could do and it was just always confusing and cluttered,” Burgess explained. “We kept it simple, and because of keeping it simple, it allowed people to basically spin it off and use it for all these different scenarios.”

From their cozy office in downtown Fargo, the men and their team of five (plus the office dog Bisou) are able to handle any and all support issues that arise. Over the last four years, they’ve collected every feature request that customers have made, steadily improving the app over time.

Simply Made Apps has developed a couple of spin-off apps for the Simple In/Out software. Users can hook up to an Android TV to view employee status on the big screen as well as FrontDesk, which uses iPad and Android tablets that never leave the office.

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