Sourcetoad is a technology and innovation company that specialises in delivering software and development services for the cruise industry. Their flagship product is Cruise Director, a platform for synchronizing and managing guest and crew systems.
Designing software for cruise lines can be tricky. Cruise ships are strange beasts; they have all the amenities and systems you would expect to find in high-end hotels, as well as those you would find in restaurants, amusement parks, performing arts centers, casinos, and shopping malls. On top of that, they are built to withstand the trials of intercontinental ocean travel and even arctic exploration.
Most software developers have never written code for such a broad, and yet specific, use case. Designing a calendar system for reservations is not a difficult task for most programmers. But designing a calendar system for reservations where the time zone can change up to three times a day is a different matter. Add in the fact that ship time isn’t actually related directly to a time zone, and most developers would stare blankly at the drawing board.
This is where Sourcetoad comes in. “That’s the kind of engineering challenge that’s really fun for us, is rewarding, and keeps us engaged,” says Greg Ross-Munro, founder and CEO of Sourcetoad. “There are always lots of new projects, especially working in the cruise and ferry niche. We work best as small teams in a startup-like environment to deliver on projects that really have a massive reach. We’re working on solutions that are out on display for the world to see and to enjoy on their next cruise.”
Time zones are not the only challenge in developing solutions for seafaring vessels. “Cruise ships are extremely complex floating cities, without the usual crutch of a constant Internet connection,” adds Ross-Munro. “If you want to build a basic app for passengers, you need to talk to restaurant booking databases, weather systems, GPS trackers, Wi-Fi portals, and guest services. On one ship alone, we pull and push data to over 20 subsystems and make the whole experience seamless, even when there isn’t a stable web connection.”
Once all the data from disparate systems is streamlined through Sourcetoad’s Cruise Director system, the company then helps their clients use it in powering other applications.
“The most exciting aspect of Cruise Director for me is that we can add custom modules to it,” says Justin Weber, CTO and partner at Sourcetoad. “We’ve built modules to allow our clients to run their digital signage systems, interactive TV interfaces, and mobile apps. With everything streamlined, we can build apps that would have normally taken a year to make and launched them in three months.”
Sourcetoad celebrated its ten-year anniversary in 2018. During the last few years, the company has gone from being a relatively small consultancy to being ranked number 1,523 on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing companies. They are now a 30-employee organization, with an additional office in Perth, Australia. But Sourcetoad has no intention of moving their Tampa headquarters.
“Tampa is an exciting hub for startups and small businesses like Sourcetoad to thrive,” says Nick DeMelas, a Sourcetoad partner and the Director of Projects. “Tampa offers a convenient airport, a supportive community, great weather, and traffic that you don’t want to commit suicide in – those are all contributing factors as to why Sourcetoad can attract such good talent.”
Ross-Munro adds: “Also, there are a ton of people who have a computer science degree and impressive technical backgrounds, who don’t want to work in a cubicle for a huge company, cranking out disembodied code every day for the rest of their lives. They want to work for a company of maybe smaller repute, but one that encourages them to think critically, to solve real-world problems, and to contribute meaningful work toward true innovation – and that’s what Sourcetoad is about.”