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The CompanyCam Founder Story

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You’ve known CompanyCam to be a leading tool for job site communication and photo documentation for years. But you might not know how it came to be.

It all started with three brothers, their dad, and a roofing business in the smack-dab middle of the United States.

From the (Clean) Ground Up

Michael Hansen co-founded White Castle Roofing in the mid-80s. At the start, it was a lot of hard work and long hours.

That’s a core memory for me. Dad would come home drenched in sweat. Then he’d still play baseball with us and do all the extra stuff,” Luke remembered.

When the brothers were old enough, they were up on roofs and walking jobs making sure the ground was clear of nails and trash.

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As they got more involved, their skills and interests started shaping their roles within the growing roofing company. Dane’s focus on processes and numbers led to him becoming the CEO; Jake’s focus on quality control steered him toward a spot as COO; and Luke (CompanyCam’s CEO) headed up marketing and sales.

But from the beginning, Luke wasn’t particularly motivated” by his day-to-day work.

Luke had a lot of good ideas — you just had to push him to finish,” Dane said.

Too Many Photos, Not Enough Organization

White Castle knew early on that it could scale its operations if it focused on adopting technology that helped it work smarter. Dane developed a cost calculator to help them estimate shingle and labor costs and build more accurate bids with less waste.

The crew understood how essential photos were for their work, from liability, progress, and inspections to marketing and insurance claims.

Jake used a DSLR to capture before-and-after photos to create performance reports, measure performance, and ensure crews were doing quality installs. However, using those photos in other areas of the business was a mess.

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For example, Luke wanted to categorize all of their photos into a Shingle Finder” widget on their site (which kind of became CompanyCam Showcases) so that they could quickly show customers what the different products looked like installed on different house types.

Looking at a screen full of IMG_0420.jpg and a mountain of zip drives made it nearly impossible. They wanted to organize their photos by time, date, and, most importantly, address.

They knew there had to be a better way, and Luke got to work researching a solution — surely, if Fruit Ninja and YouTube existed, there was already an app out there that could do this.

But after hours of research and some extreme internet sleuthing, he couldn’t find anything. So they decided to build something themself.

If it works for us… then it might work for other people.”

None of them had built an app before, so they worked with a local app development shop to prove the concept. They knew they had something after testing with the White Castle team and a local foundation repair partner. But to move from prototype to market, they knew it needed to be its own thing with people dedicated to its success.

Luke pitched his photo organization app to Chad (CompanyCam employee number 1). He somehow convinced him to trade his job as a developer at a growing sports tech startup for the windowless backroom of White Castle Roofing.

The companycam founders story chad wilken

Here is where the work really began.

Like any new business, especially software, it can take a while to start seeing the fruits of your labor. They took a future-oriented approach to building CompanyCam that mirrored how they built the roofing business: If you do a good job now, you’ll get more jobs in the future.

They found an office in downtown Lincoln, Nebraska, brought on more team members, and built more functionality and reliability into the app, which White Castle employees and its customers began to notice. This reliable, instant photo documentation helped them build trust quicker with their customers because they could show them what was happening on their roof and how they fixed it.

We had a lady write us a note that said, You guys did excellent quality work and had even better customer service.’” Jake said.

They knew they needed to invest in this idea because if it helped them solve issues their business was having — communicating across language, reducing errors, and working efficiently — it would certainly help other contractors.

Photo Organization is Just the Beginning

More and more pros in and outside of roofing who were looking to solve their core problem of documentation, communication, and transparency and build trust with their customers found a fit with CompanyCam.

Fun fact: More than 1 billion photos have been captured and stored with CompanyCam.

CompanyCam continues to add more features and functionality around the core idea of job site capture. Since those early days, features like reports, checklists, tags, and labels have been born from the feedback from White Castle and the thousands of businesses using the app daily.

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Luke, Dane, and Jake have plenty of conversations (i.e., arguments) about what features and functionality should be added to the app and which ones are best left to our integration partners.

New AI tools, like AI Notes and Quick Caption, are enhancing the capture process by automatically organizing photos as they’re captured into easy-to-follow outlines that can be shared with teammates and customers.

But regardless of what’s added to CompanyCam in the future, it will always tie into the core idea that started the app: Make it simple for contractors to document what’s going on at their jobs so that they can build trust with their customers.

If you do it based on the right reasons… you’re going to do the right thing. That’s all there is to it.” - Mike Hansen

Christian is known round these parts as the silent wizard — whipping out editing, researching, and strategizing skills like it’s nobody’s biz. As a Content Strategist, he stays busy assisting our Product and Activation/​Retention teams with all their content needs — all while staying as quiet as possible. (Heaven forbid he’d talk too much.) 

After work, Christian can be found hanging out with his beautiful wife Ruth, playing catch with his dog Sunday, rewatching that one Indian reality TV episode he starred in (#famous), or making dumb vides on his fine. Go on, Christian. Share your work with the class.

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