Greg Ross-Munro has been programming since he was 8 years old. Though he struggled with dyslexia growing up, “before I could speed read, I was OK with computers,” he says.
His grandfather taught him how to code, and by the time he was 12, Ross-Munro and his friend started selling video games to classmates.
Today, Ross-Munro leads Sourcetoad, a company that develops cross-platform apps — technology that will work on the web, mobile phones, kiosks and smart TVs.
“That way you don’t have to hire multiple guys” for different technologies and maintenance, he says.
The majority of Sourcetoad’s clients are large hospitality companies. But Sourcetoad also develops technology for a handful of cruise lines and health care companies. Ross-Munro reserves 30% of the business for startups and small businesses, “to keep it fun.”
In three years, the company has grown from three people to more than 20 employees, building tools for Procter & Gamble, the United States Southern Command, Jackson Hewitt and Viking Cruise Lines. Sourcetoad has 17 employees in Tampa and nine in Australia, after Ross-Munro met a guy virtually eight years ago via a shared project. “I sent him a half-million dollars before I met him in person,” he says. “It’s a very 21st century business arrangement.”
Ross-Munro says he’s learned along the way, “experimenting over here, tweaking over there.” One area he’s especially proud of tweaking is his hiring process.
“It’s really hard to hire programmers and predict success,” Ross-Munro says. That’s why, instead of just looking at stuff they’ve done and interviewing for culture, Ross-Munro asks for buy-in from all team members. “From Day One, it is their decision,” he says. He also has the applicant sit down with the team and work for an hour or two. The applicant then has to ask for the job.
“It’s such a simple idea, it works beautifully,” he says. “Everyone has to say yes.”
Ross-Munro is well-known in the Tampa tech community, sponsoring, mentoring or judging startup opportunities in the area, especially those through Tampa Bay WaVE and Tampa Bay Technology Forum. “We really put a lot of effort to make sure there is a new generation of tech entrepreneurs coming up in Tampa Bay.”
— Traci McMillan Beach
Name: Greg Ross-Munro
City of residence: Tampa
Twitter handle: gregdrm
Birthplace: Johannesburg, South Africa
Years on the Gulf Coast: 16
Marital status/children: Married
Alma mater: USF
Best place to network: Tampa Bay Technology Forum Awards Gala
Coolest business experience: Getting to help launch the Viking Star cruise ship, and travel around Europe for 40 days onboard.
Messy desk or clean workspace: Depends on the time of the day (either super messy, or OCD clean)
Best business lesson ever learned: Bring future direct reports and supervisors into a candidate’s job interview. If it’s a team decision to hire, it creates respect from your team and loyalty from the employee from day one.
A website that makes your job easier: https://news.ycombinator.com/news
Community group you’re most involved with: Tampa Bay WaVE
Favorite off-hours activity: Playing Squash
Two people, dead or alive, you’d like to have dinner with: Jim Henson and Dōgen.
What you would be doing if you could pick another career: Whiskey Distiller.
Top item on your bucket list: Build my own, hand animated, 2D comedy-adventure game.
Skill you’d like to learn: Juggling four balls
Who would play you in a movie about your life: A chubby Ewan McGregor
If I had a magic wand I’d: Put North Korea under full control of Disney. I think they’d make giant strides in improving the lives of the people, in both personal freedoms and quality of life. Also, the choreography would be fantastic.