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CTX is a Sheffield startup with a tool for searching multiple services

We speak to founder Rory Gibson, who is looking for feedback and offering a huge discount.

CTX is a search tool that allows you to scan a number of services at once, including Slack, Google Drive and GitHub. Its founder is Rory Gibson, software developer and member of Sheffield Digital, who is looking for feedback and offering a big discount.

Rory worked at Technophobia for several years before heading to London to ‘do the startup thing’. He’s now back up north and consulting in Sheffield while trying to launch CTX. We asked Rory a few questions to give you a bit of background to the tool and the kind of help he’s looking for.

What is CTX?

CTX is a cloud-based search engine for your team’s apps. You can plug it into services like Slack, Trello, JIRA, Google Drive and email, then you can search everything in those tools from one search box.

It’s built for people like me who work in digital teams. It helps you quickly find conversations, files, tickets and data.

Recently, it’s become clear that with new regulations around how companies manage their data – like GDPR – having a clear understanding of what you’ve got isn’t just a nice-to-have any more. I think that CTX has some definite uses in this area too.

How did it get started?

CTX started when I finally became tired of dealing with the pain of finding information about the projects I was managing and participating in.

I was using multiple tools, like Slack, Trello, Google Drive and so on. Every day, it felt like I spent time just trying to remember which tool contained a key fact or conversation.

I thought about building a tool – maybe a wiki or knowledge management system – to try and categorise the data. But it just felt wrong, and I realised that I’d rather have the flexibility to use whichever tools I wanted, but have a slick way of searching all of them.

I started CTX in February 2017. After a few weeks of spare-time hacking, I had something I could use on my own. A working prototype that I felt comfortable letting others use took a bit longer. And a fully marketable commercial version was a bigger job than I expected!

I launched the public version with a free trial and three price plans in early March 2018. It’s now used by several organisations and I’m looking for more!

What challenges do you face?

Technically, there have been a few challenges. Search is actually quite a hard problem.

CTX integrates with lots of third party tools – they are all powerful and they are all different. Even keeping up with changes to APIs is a regular background task!

Security is a primary concern. I’ve always been reasonably knowledgeable in this area, but since CTX deals with other people’s data, I’ve made extra effort to learn more. This has meant getting out and seeking advice from experts, particularly in the Security Ops field. I’ve also done things like Threat Modelling exercises in addition to strictly technical measures. It’s fascinating stuff but takes a lot of time.

It’s been 14 months of hard work, especially as I’m bootstrapping alongside a full-time consultancy workload. CTX takes up about 20–25 hours a week, which has made it a significant commitment for me and my family.

How can companies get hold of CTX?

The next – and most important – challenge for CTX is finding that initial little bit of growth. I’m always looking to speak to more potential customers so that I can continue to learn what makes CTX valuable to other people.

One thing I’d really like to do is get more local companies on board. I’m working with Sheffield Digital to give the community a free instance of CTX to search Slack with. And I’d love to talk with companies, especially those in Sheffield, about whether CTX could be a useful tool for their teams.

If you’re a Sheffield Digital member, or if you’re not but you’d be willing to give me some feedback on CTX, I’m offering a 50% discount for the first year of your company’s subscription – plans start at £20 a month for small teams.

Where can we find out more?

I’m often to be found at local meetups, especially Sheffield DevOps (where I’ve spoken), Agile Sheffield and the ExpertTalks events.

You can email to get in touch and I am @rorygibson on Sheffield Digital’s Slack community and @rorygibson on Twitter too. The Twitter account for CTX is @getctx and you can visit the CTX site itself to learn more and sign up.