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All grown up! AEC business and project management software company, Total Synergy, turns 21

All grown up! AEC business and project management software company, Total Synergy, turns 21

August 1st, 2021

To mark Total Synergy’s 21st birthday on August 1, we sat down with our very own founder and CEO, Scott Osborne, to find out what it means to see his start-up all grown up (and continuing to grow). 

Conception to birth: 1998-2000 

In 1998, Scott was working in a large, multinational computing firm. This company was the third and largest software company he’d worked for. Retrospectively, these years can be seen as Scott’s ‘intel gathering’ phase, although he didn’t know it at the time.  

In March of that year, the director of one of the engineering firms where he worked, approached Scott and posed a problem. His company couldn’t find a software solution that worked for their particular, project-centric industry. Nothing fit. 

“He said, ‘You know how AEC companies work. You know the software industry. Is there anything out there that can help us?’” says Scott.  “So, I did the research to try and find a solution. I tried to show him systems from other sectors, like the legal industry, and the accounting industry. But none of them matched the way they do business.”  

Scott and the engineering director asked others in the built environment design industry what they used. They quickly discovered that their colleagues didn’t have any software solutions either. AEC was in need. 

Scott says, “From ’98 to 2000, I was working full time, and paying for the software to be built out of my wages – it was a classic software start-up story.”  

In February of 2000, Scott took the software live. In August, he released it to the general market, under the Total Synergy banner, and Synergy software was born. 

Cool kid to teen dream: 2001-2010 

In the beginning, there was Scott, and only Scott. He did everything from designing the software itself, to marketing it, selling it, and implementing it. “If there was anything that needed to be changed,” he says, “I’d go back to the developers and I’d redesign it. That’s how it started.”  

Indeed, of Total Synergy’s first 10 customers, eight are still clients to this day. That said, within a year, we had 30 companies on the books. 

As Total Synergy began to grow and employ staff, those customers continued to be invested and active in the development of Synergy. Total Synergy was designing software for them, “so, they were getting involved and saying, ‘What I really need is this and this, and this.’” Says Scott. That collaboration with the engineers, architects, urban and town planners, surveyors, and other built environment design professionals who use Synergy remains an integral part of our product’s continual development.  

“That’s probably the biggest learning for me, and any of our clients would agree too,” says Scott, “you have to adapt to grow.” 

Outgrowing expectations: 2011-2019 

“21 years is a long time,” says Scott. And it really is. With some sources reporting the average lifespan of a software start up as two to three years, 21 is positively senior. A lot changes in that time and lessons abound.  

“The vision doesn’t change,” says Scott, “we’re serving our built environment design customer, and we’re helping them succeed in business — that’s what we do. But how we do that changes every day.” 

Evolution that’s all about you: 2020-beyond 

It’s true. What Total Synergy was doing last year isn’t what they’re doing this year. The Synergy software platform is evolving all the time, with new releases and updates every month to meet the evolving needs of our customer base. 

“When we talk about ‘software as a service’, we don’t mean ‘subscription’” says Scott. “We mean it’s a service we provide. And that service means we will continue to fix your business and project management problems. We’ll continue to find solutions. Your problems will change, the context of them will change, and we will change with them.” 

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