Founders Series – Russ Peterson, director of Bad Dinosaur

Russ Peterson
Russ Peterson

What does Bad Dinosaur do?

We help entrepreneurs and SMEs build digital products. We specialise in minimum viable products (MVPs); the MVP approach gets your product out there quickly and is better value for money than traditional methods. We work closely with clients as part of the team to help them realise their vision. Our offering is as much about support and guidance as it is design/development.

What do you do there/what is your role?

I’m a Company Director: my main focus is on business development, I’m keen to continue to grow Bad Dinosaur, invest in our team and offer even more to our clients. At the moment I work on building client relationships – I’m usually the first person clients meet when they’re interested in working with us. I host product workshops, a collaborative session where we explore the product idea and turn this into a blueprint for development. I estimate how long projects are likely to take and write a proposal for each. I’m also involved in tackling design or technical challenges whenever the team needs my input.

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What is your background?

I have more than ten years experience in web-based technology and business development. In the past I have built and managed my own digital products, founded businesses and worked for various companies. Our clients routinely benefit from this experience; I try to steer people away from the common development pitfalls.

What was the aha moment that led to the company founding?

My business partner (Kyle) founded Bad Dinosaur in 2013. I joined him in 2016 to diversify our offering and work on bigger projects. Kyle and I shared the opinion that software development at the time was overly-complex and costly. The ‘tech-spec and get on with it’ approach usually led to spiralling costs and disappointed clients. We were determined to change this, challenge the status-quo and remove barriers for individuals and SMEs who wanted to build something new.

Why did you launch the company?

Kyle had grown frustrated with big agencies that worked slowly and didn’t include the client in the development process, draining client budgets. With our shared philosophy, Kyle’s extensive agency experience and my knack for product design and architecture it made sense to join forces.

Where did you get assistance when you started?

We began working together at Codebase in Edinburgh. The co-working environment allowed us to meet with clients and work on individual contracts. We gradually increased the size of our projects, to fund growth and expand our team.

Give us a brief history of the growth of the company

Since I joined in 2016, we’ve gone from myself and Kyle to a team of seven full-time staff (and counting!). We’ve helped 22 clients so far and the business is steadily growing. Many of our clients return to us for follow-on work – we’re proud of the relationships that we’ve built.

Have you taken any external funding? If so from who and when?

None at all – we invested in our own computers and took things from there!

So what does it look like now with regard to staff and turnover?

Eight full-time staff and we’re aiming for 500k turnover this year.

What’s the difference between when you started and now in your marketplace?

We felt there was a real gap in the market when we started the business. Existing agencies were slow, expensive and detached from their clients. Feedback from clients seems to support our approach.

What are your goals for your business?

Continue to grow our team, enabling us to provide additional services and minimise our project lead times. We want to be a one-stop shop for clients – a technology partner they can rely on. We would also like to approach larger companies, to prove that our philosophy is scalable and value for money. We are currently expanding our operations in Glasgow and are very excited about the future.

What are your biggest current challenges?

Scaling our team to meet the needs of our clients and the associated challenges (office space, management/HR etc). We’re also conscious of the need to preserve our values as the business grows. It’s hard to juggle so many plates.

What has been the biggest challenge so far?

Managing client demand, scheduling projects and delivering quality products on time.

What do you do outside work?

Relax, visit places and eat nice food; weekend trips on the train. The odd bit of DIY. Spend time with my partner.

What do you know now that you wished you had known earlier?

That we were on the right track. There was a long time where we were like “is this going to work?”. And then our advisor, Graeme, came along and told us we were doing great. And suddenly we were like “phew!”.

What’s the secret to good leadership?

Forging a healthy, inclusive and diverse work environment. Encouraging continuous input from your team and investing in people to maximise their potential. Earning the respect of your team and not taking it for granted. Taking care of yourself and striving towards a good work-life balance.

Where do you see the company in five years?

We’ll expand into the medium enterprise market, and launch new sites – potentially in other key areas in the UK – to support more entrepreneurs, startups and SMEs.

How can the Scottish startup/entrepreneur landscape be improved to help more businesses start up and grow?

Startups could definitely benefit from more help with funding. From our experience, the grant funding available is essential at kick-starting companies – we just wish there was more of it. There could probably be better guidance for start-ups with regards to starting up and growing. The current people helping in this area are slow, over encumbered and old fashioned – they’re clearly not set up for the modern start-up culture.

If you would like to take part in the Founder Series please email

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