Our today`s guest is Josh Pines – co-founder of Sirenum – the SaaS company which helps organizations gain efficiencies across the entire staff management lifecycle. Let`s learn more how the idea of the platform for transforming the way organizations connect with their staff was developed by people from absolutely different professional spheres.
Before joining Sirenum, Josh (who holds a BA from Brandeis University and an MBA from the University of Miami) received an impressive experience working the software strategy marketing for 6.5 years at IBM; and was a member of Korn Ferry International – one of the world’s leading executive search firms. That’s when Josh pointed out the shortcomings in HR management.
Having other plans for his future life and career, different from being “chief marketing officer”, Josh Pines did “what would a good MBA does”. In 2004 he met Benjamin – CEO of a staffing business in the rail industry in London. Together they tried to fix the problem many local workers faced with: the need to be managed on an hourly basis. After half a year of fruitful teamwork, Josh became a co-founder of Sirenum.
The idea of Sirenum was born when Josh and Benjamin realized that technology was going to be the tool to help their business grow efficiently. They started to provide technology to sort the process either for payroll or health and safety perspective. An attempt to improve staff management within the firm resulted in a project that helps today to increase the engagement of part-time, temporary and mobile workers, and improve health and safety compliance in highly regulated industries for other companies.
The scale and success of this startup amaze: from the bland online brochure Sirenum turned into popular SaaS platform which successfully serviced the Olympics and provided staff for the ticket taping at large events. Sirenum platform is now used to manage more than 100,000 workers across tens of thousands of sites around the globe and is adding thousands of workers every month.
So, this story shows us, how two people, who come together from different areas of practice can build a socially-oriented business together with the set of unique skills and experience and get something really mature and strong to help others to grow.
[00:00:09] Katia Myroniuk: Welcome to Saas for starters podcast. This is Katia Myroniuk Myroniuk and it is a show where I interviewed SaaS company owners marketers and those have something to say about software making process. Together we identify ideas, pitfalls, marketing activities and other actions that lead to success. Interested? Keep listening!
[00:00:41] Katia Myroniuk: Today’s guest is the co-founder of Sirenum company that allows organizations to manage their over the world works better. In 2011 the platform that would become smaller and was able to beat the competition for the rights to stem the 2012 London Olympics established in 2013 this Sirenum platform is now used to manage more than hundred thousand workers across the tens of thousands of sites around the globe and has added thousands of workers every month. Our guest has nearly 20 years of experience in technology marketing and strategy. So today I’d like to welcome Josh Pines Pines. Josh Pines welcome to the show!
[00:01:20] Josh Pines Pines: Thanks so much, Katia Myroniuk.
[00:01:21] Katia Myroniuk: Thank you for coming. So let’s start with the roots. So where you wereborn and raised.
[00:01:27] Josh Pines: I’m originally I spent most of my childhood there though did live. My parents divorced when I was young and I spent a lot of time in California which is where my mother moved for a certain time. I went to University in Boston which is where I met my wife and stayed in Boston work for a startup there for a while after university in sort of the first dot com era and dot com boom and bust.
[00:01:57] Josh Pines: Got myself an MBA degree after that and I really wasn’t sure what was going to happen after the dot com bust. Passionate about technology passive about what the Internet was going to do to business but I felt that the MBA would really be a solid understanding of business operations and it did. I’m gone to IBM where I work the software strategy marketing for 6 1/2 years after business low and during business why they worked for us offer startups that made Web portals. And I also worked for a company of Korn Ferry International which is one of the world’s world’s leading executive search firms which is where my kind of interesting bug around vitrine H.R. was it was planted.
[00:02:38] Katia Myroniuk: Wow. So you`re were on the Internet from the beginning.
[00:02:42] Josh Pines: Yeah I started working on my first start out was I joined the very beginning in 1997 so really just when and monetization of Internet businesses was starting to kick off you know other than Netscape. I don’t think anybody was really making money of the Internet at that point or prior to that point. So it was pretty exciting heady times. Boston was one of the key hubs you know with Cisco obviously with centrist Bay area the way but it was really exciting and learnt learned a time when I was employee number two and you know basically broke everything and get everything wrong and then learned learn how to do it a little bit more right. So it was a great experience to sort of get me the bug where new technology helped me understand that startled a bit and also just kind of you know care about my career having not really done anything in that before it didn’t really exist.
[00:03:41] Katia Myroniuk: But Sirenum is the company you`re co-founder in now is the first company You are co-founder not main executive or manager.
[00:03:51] Josh Pines: Yeah that’s true. So after my time at IBM I spent some time at the boys as a strategy consultant. I worked for a couple of mid-sized technology businesses as a marketing executive and then I made my way to London where I was BTD European marketing Vishy for a software company and was looking at my career and trying to figure out what I want to do next and I knew that passion about technology. I knew women had a burgeoning startup ecosystem and I wasn’t really sure if for the rest of my career I wanted to have my title as something of marketing vice president or or whatever chief marketing officer. It wasn’t a negative thing about marketing. I just wasn’t sure if I was ready to kind of say that’s where I want to be the rest of my life. And you know so I did what would a good MBA does. I networked and RGU contacts I met a friend at I met a friend of a friend through the venture capital network who introduced me to the founder s room and as mentioned we sort of were the initial sort of embryo’s around them started in the era about 6 6 years ago when vision rooms our CEO and founder was managing a staffing business focused on the rail industry here in London and realized that technology was going to be the tool to help his business grow efficiently. So they were a very menial business stating for too long people were getting lost in information was getting lost in a very simple level they didn’t even go who for them.
[00:05:40] Josh Pines: So you know he started to sketch out the platform used it to win that business for the Olympics as you mentioned in the business grew tenfold within four months every three months. At that point after successfully servicing the Olympics and providing staff for the ticket taping at large events over the over the fortnight and getting feedback from their existing customers that their service had sort of shot through the roof. How are you doing it. BENJAMIN It is seems that you know maybe maybe the software is where the future is not just the staffing or the end of 2013 separating the two businesses and started to go about privatizing and it wasn’t long after that that Benjamin and I were introduced as I started to tell my networking. He certainly understands staffing better than I [parrot and just about anybody out there and was looking for someone who had experience in the SAAS world and software particularly around the commercialization. So obviously his background as an operations and on the staffing side. And so you know it was it was a very natural fit. Were very complementary and I think also personality wise quite complimentary. So you know [00:06:57] I started working with Benjamin early on in 2014 and the summer has really just a consultant just [9.0] kind of whispered in his ear him whispering in mine and sharing and messages in a way to sort of say how how how can I help you grow this business.
[00:07:15] Josh Pines: And as time went [00:07:16] on it was clear that we were a good pair and that the business was moving in the right direction and by the end by the end 2014 Benjamin had convinced me to join or I had been convinced to join board and joined him as a co-founder. I [17.3] was really excited about the challenge and like I said kind of excited to have my hands on things beyond just you know marketing campaigns again not to not to disrespect that at all. It’s still a core part of my business but you know to really build something and be a part of how we build a culture how we build relationships with our clients that reflect that culture and how we develop a team that reflects their culture. I think both Benjamin and I are passionate about that regardless about what our operational skills are. Those are definitely things that we we value and then you know we’re excited to be working on here at CNN.
[00:08:15] Katia Myroniuk: That’s great. [00:08:15] I think you’ve got a strong union around. Two people come together from different areas of practice to build something together with their experience and you can get something really mature and stronger and in terms of SaaS business than most I think a majority of businesses took co-founders from different areas so they bring something unique to such a union. [25.3] And so for people and audience can you to tell a little bit about why did you get started with this company and [00:08:54] more about those who hear about Sirenum for the first time. [3.6]
[00:08:58] Josh Pines: Yes so getting started was interesting. I mean we you know Bajamin was focused on productizing and finding I suppose what amounts to Alpha customers. And you know I was sort of like how are we talking about this how we’re talking about it to two partners or potential partners at a time. Are we talking about a potential investors. How are we talking about it to our prospects are we talking about our team. What are we doing. Who are we. And those were things that you know only so much a person can do with it in a day and it is also something that was you know kind of caught my interest and background. So as Benjamin and the development and implementation team set about you know really productizing and… You know working with some of the existing products and customers in the ecosystem. So we’re in our sort of network you know one of the things that spun out of a now the business is you have as a starting point from a network perspective so we had a few customers to kind of battle ideas off of them and send over features to including the original staffing business for us is now we’re separate businesses. They are our client and they were then at early adopter worse. But some of the other businesses in the network became very valuable points of feedback for us.
[00:10:20] Josh Pines: So you know that was that was kind of the core like we didn’t have a hitch that really we didn’t have a you know sort of substantial amount of marketing materials made a very basic Web site that had no top leadership or really awful marketing with as a kind of a brochure online which is not uncommon and you know it’s not a criticism of Benjamin and his team before I joined it was a natural progression of kind of where we needed to go as a business at that point.
[00:10:55] Katia Myroniuk: How did you get your first customers after the Olympics and Basically what are your target customers?
[00:11:01] Josh Pines: Right. So as an mentioned you know we have this kind of existing network of customers that Benjamin was helping and they had their own workers who for one reason or another needed to be managed on an hourly basis whether that means they need the skedaddled sort of at the beginning of the process or their time needs to be captured. At the end of the process either for payroll or health and safety perspective you know we’re kind of indifferent. We provide technology to sort of both parts of that process. So there were a few clients on Benjamin survey and it was serving with the staffing agency. And you know asked to use the tool for them and really you know our core market to start was just transportation businesses that Benjamin was helping. And so that included business like West railways which is part of the first one of the largest transportation businesses in the world. But we just had a single department knows very sort of class as classic said story where you’re selling to. You know the apartment and hoping to expand with the bit within the business. So you are which remains a client for us was using it primarily to attract the team(?). That is how many hours over which health and safety threshold their workers were were doing that was introducing risk to the business in the transportation industry in the UK is very highly regulated around 50 for obvious reasons and it’s the most regulated among the Western world’s countries in the world. So we always knew that as front of our new york new york challengingly we can make it work there you know we can make it work anywhere.
[00:12:34] Josh Pines: So we were really glad to have an early beta customer that was challenging us so much in terms of building those capabilities around managing fatigue building in the capabilities around communicating with both the highly diverse highly mobile what we call a dynamic workforce people who don’t sit behind a desk and people who need to be managed on an hourly basis. Our other early customers were friends of friends you know other transportation related businesses. Eventually we started to realize that transportation isn’t really the isn’t the only space we can go to actually other staffing agencies would benefit from this because they similarly have the challenge of a dynamic workforce. People who work multiple jobs in multiple locations, multiple pay rates, multiple end clients, variable compliance and health and safety requirements.
[00:13:30] Josh Pines: And as a result we started to evolve our our target markets to include the original kind of business we are spun out of a temporary staffing agency. To this day or markets are the transportation and logistics industry and the staffing the recruitment industry number of clients and other industries that have similar challenges. Healthcare is a great example where you know whether it’s hospitals or home care agencies or care homes. There is populated primarily by these dynamic workers and these dynamic workers are operational in nature. In other words if they’re not in the right place at the right time the business doesn’t operate well. So we become very much a mission critical. I mean a perfect example is again with GM you are now we manage their entire network of engineers the UK that’s over 2000 workers plus we work with First Bus which is also part of the first group. Similarly supplying technology to help manage the works. And I want to be clear by the way we’re just a technology product we’re not supplying the workers it is to manage the pools of workers that already exist but in the case of GFUR (abberviation?) you are you know the engineers are maintaining the trains in their depots right. So a lot of stuff happens when you’re not paying attention you get on a train to your morning commute you know 730 in platform get on it’s there you get to work great but a lot of stuff happens overnight in the day for make sure that train is in you know tip top shape. And without our platform that that whole process starts to fall apart. And that’s really start to see things like delays in the training or problems with health and safety or trains being cancelled. And so that’s where I get back to my point about our our being operational in nature so these businesses don’t operate well without you know what we bring to the table.
[00:15:33] Katia Myroniuk: That’s really interesting I’d like to know that your product brings value to such a big companies I think. Can you [00:15:40] explain what’s your product does and basically like how it works on cantare to other natural ways of stuff managment? [6.8]
[00:15:47] Josh Pines: Sure Katia Myroniuk. Your workforce management and broadly see in each technology is the role of the biggest areas of investment since the Y2K era. I think after Martek age our tech is the second biggest area in security. And you know one of the reasons why is we’ve started to learn so much more about the way people work want to work need to be managed. You know there’s going to be fits and starts and mistakes along the way. But generally speaking we’ve seen just an immense amount of development and innovation and investment both from investors and from businesses who are investing in their own business in our technology since the Y2K era. But it’s almost entirely been focused on white collar workers or perhaps even more specifically desk workers. You know you were I most of the people who are going to listen to this podcast, you know we’ve seen these benefits whether it’s being able to file you know file expenses or submit receipts from your phone or you know get information on your reviews via your tablet and it’s you know even just being able to work from home when you’ve got a delivery coming. The technology the intersection of web Tuhoe of the cloud of mobile and of software and hardware and infrastructure that that’s based on that takes advantage of that has made that you know just an absolutely part of the furniture for most desk workers are information workers. But what hasn’t happened until very recently is figuring out how to bring similar or I should say analogous benefits to these dynamic workers people who don’t sit behind a desk and need to be managed hourly and that that could be everything from pickers and packers/ cleaners and pagers but also nurses doctors and engineers. Again think of a day to day of a nurse. They’re not sitting in front of a laptop or a tablet and able to operate the technology needed to manage their their day to day function. And if the person works more than a certain number hours he or she may enter a new news set of parameters around availability for the next potential shift. Most technology on the market doesn’t really pair those two things. And so you don’t understand that someone has now crossed the 50 threshold and actually can’t take the next shift and then our system would then automatically trigger the need to find another person. So a nurse A) has already worked over there were the minimum or the or I should say the maximum amount of hours for the day of the week. And you’re going to need to find a replacement right now. Too many businesses are bogged down by the administration administrative challenges of managing these kinds of workers and it’s and it’s and it’s shocking to hear and say it’s almost all manual at this point Katia Myroniuk they are literally on notepads keeping track of someone who’s crossed thresholds. Next time you walk past that construction site look and see if they’ve got a man will sign in for you know so. So there’s just there’s just a ton of lost time in that part of the process. But it doesn’t really stop there because you also need to do a good job of communicating to the workers as well as commuting catering to other systems in the in the sort of broader age our tech infrastructure. So when someone has crossed a certain threshold that might change their work scenario or their or their work situation they might be quoted a different kind of worker and then afforded different rights and then the last part of the puzzle where I would say the second last puzzle is get into payroll because if you think that there’s a lot of wasted time and the administrative challenges I mentioned get you to payroll which is primarily a data cleanliness and kind of handoff process is really bogging down businesses and that’s particularly true with the staff because their payroll process also includes the invoicing process because if you calculate how much as someone is supposed to get paid you’re also going to be calculating how much you’re going to be invoiced in the endpoint. So again if you’re a staffing agency and you’re applying to a hospital for example you’re supplying a certain number of workers they work a certain number of hours they might be working at one hospital today in a different hospital tomorrow. You’ve got to accurately pay the person for the different roles. There might be different rates across those hospitals but then you also get it accurately invoice(?). each hospital separately. And so you’ve got a sort of omni directional or omni variable challenge there. And currently you know the vast vast majority of staff agencies are extremely manual this process.
[00:20:52] Josh Pines: And I my my previous business was a clinical technology business so the process of developing drugs and getting them approved by regulatory authorities and the the one of the things that has revolutionized that business is this idea of risk based monitoring where you’re only observing the parts of the process where there’s likely to be a challenge. There’s likely to be an issue with data or or something of that sort. So or exception management you might you might call it. And that’s exactly what we’re trying to bring to the payroll process exception management rather than having to capture literally every single data point of the payroll development and Timesheet development process. In other words I work five five days each day I have two shifts you know each one has a certain variable I’m much and getting paid depending on whether it’s overnight. And so on and so forth. What we’re trying to do is only identify the ones where there’s likely to be a problem. I didn’t use them our mobile app or some other technology that we use to capture the time or comparing it to the schedule to get the accuracy right because if you follow your schedule you know what the person worked. Right so we have a number of triggers and thresholds when someone has worked more or less than the required hours. And if you’re within within those thresholds you don’t really need to be reviewing their payroll at the same level the same sort of extent and dragging you down and we’ve seen some of our clients save as much as 75 percent off the payroll process of getting essentially from the end of the workers shift or week of shifts and handing it off to the net pay providers. So to be clear we only calculate what’s called Roaf payroll which is what you should be getting ready for things like health insurance deductions or pension deductions or tax deductions. Because that is all very low and we intend to be a global business. So then we work with and we develop relationships with net pay providers and a number of geographies to be able to expedite that. But generally businesses have an existing relationship and we’re happy to sort of plug in and actually the plug in part is an interesting thing that are an important thing. I want to add Katia Myroniuk we build our platform very much understanding that for the last 15 or so years age our tech broadly speaking has been a big investment area and we have no desire if the business doesn’t have a desire to you know disrupt that existing infrastructure. They’re happy with it if they’re not. That’s fine. We can make you know we can make do. But if they are so we very much build it based on you know as much kind of open API web service driven, cloud mobile friendly in a way that easily plugs in and isn’t in it in a modular fashion to what our clients need most. So we provide all we can provide all of what I just described or just bits and pieces that they’re lacking. Sometimes they might have a time intended tool that captures their workers time and attendance that they’re very happy with. I would almost always say you know if you’re in the right environment our mobile app is going to be better but sometimes you know manufacturing construction sites mobile apps not a great way to do it. You know we’re happy to work with their existing thinks that that’s the core of our vision for the for the for the marketplace.
[00:24:27] Katia Myroniuk: So just to clarify like your Sorento works like you install the app on a mobile phone of the user and the process all his work truck is truck automatically when he enters the building or the construction area and when he lives it stops working. Or how does it work?
[00:24:51] Josh Pines: We do allow for passive but the vast majority of our clients choose to choose a more active. So we have the ability for workers to start and stop their shifts on their mobile apps. We only track the location as a default based on that start and stop rather than constantly. However because again that sort of new york new york challenge. We’ve also built into our product some features and functions for very specific kinds of work that are common in this space like a lone worker or a patrol person where that worker’s whereabouts need to be tracked constantly for health and safety perspective and also for the operation of that rule or the completion of that role. But you know on the on the other side on the inside the operations management inside you know they’ve got a whole suite of tools via the browser or or or tablet to be able to see where the workers checked in how late they were report everything in our system is fully auditable so you can report on literally every step of the process to understand how much lateness you have how much an employee engagement is based on a few different factors client satisfaction with the workers and uncovered shifts lost revenue. If you’re a savvy agency you know every uncovered shift that is every time someone doesn’t show up or shipped is lost of revenue. And then and then you know the last thing one thing that you know on the flip side of the the mobile app tool is we do have some really cool geolocation stuff that helps you keep track of the health of your network. So you think of like a big I.T. environment where they’ve got 3-D panels on the walls that show all of the servers and the health of their servers right from an ICU manager perspective. Well we’ve got something analogous for workers in some of our clients that build remote monitoring offices with again big you know black panels on the wall that show maps of world their sites are and the pings identify the sites and the health of the worker sites and other literal help they help the ships. So if there’s a yellow that means there might be a shift at risk someone’s running late or someone has you know that they’re expecting 10 people and only nine have confirmed. If it’s if it’s been great. Everybody’s working then fine. And you can sort of connect the dots there. So it is really powerful. Very different from anything on the market right now.
[00:27:24] Katia Myroniuk: And for such a huge product that is being used across the globe with so many users. So how do you work out pricing for your SAAS product and the like as I know you use pricing model per user and how you tried other pricing models. Or is this is the one that works better for you.
[00:27:48] Josh Pines: Yeah you know it was an interesting journey along the way that Benjamin and I went through. We price per worker per worker managed. And there’s a few different ways that we calculate it as some businesses are very seasonal or variable for one reason or another. Typically we’ll do a three month trailing median for the number of workers that have gone through payroll and the price there is their volume discounts per worker. As you cross various thresholds you asked if we tried other pricing. We have because the traditional pricing model for staffing agencies has been priced her sort of add millions or well and it’s not really the best term but if you think of most software sold there many agencies say this is primarily aimed at people placing permanent workers for long term place so that we focused on a temporary our market in our space where the ratio of workers recruitment consultants is high and really should be much higher for businesses so we help them create a higher ratio that is more leverage per operational person within the staffing agency. That’s why we knew we had a hard worker because otherwise as these businesses benefit greatly from our technology we’re not going to see. We’re yet to see that in other words we bring value the more workers you can manage. So a lot of a lot of temp agencies have a ratio of about 15 workers in the field to one worker in the in the office maybe 20 to 1. Slightly better more efficient ones are 30 to when we really try to get businesses to either one. And what that usually means is that they then sell more business right. So honest stuffing agency my product is my people. And if I can only sell if you know 20 people or every one person in the office I’m not I’m not I’m not maximizing my potential but if I can sell 50 then I can I can you know recruit more people and grow more quickly. So just a little bit more on the pricing. Roughly speaking. And like I said there’s volume discounts and also the product is fully modular. You can get bits and pieces but roughly speaking on the on the on the high end. In other words for the smallest customers don’t get much volume discount. It’s about five pounds per worker per month. On the low end for our largest clients that are you know global and again we want to see them grow. So we will reward them with lower prices for us as they grow. It’s about a pound fifty two pounds depending on a few different factors. And you know and where they are now I think you were also getting some of the challenges of pricing internationally which is something that our international clients tend to be large global agencies. So are less price sensitive around that by international standards. On the smaller end we have you know we haven’t really hit that challenge. We’re very much an enterprise tool we’re very much need the larger businesses a kind of a premium product and you know we do what we can from a marketing perspective and a customer care perspective to you know sort of further that that that that brand image as a premium product. But these large agencies you might have five six hundred thousand workers working for them and we’ll get there. You know they they are the pricing across their various countries are a little less price sensitive around it because there’s a benefit across the whole business.
[00:31:34] Katia Myroniuk: I see. So yeah in terms of growth so for your specific company in the last 4 years or since your announced it as a product on the market. Have you used to any investors took for growth or are your self-founded from the beginning?
[00:31:53] Josh Pines: So we’ve been mostly self funded. We did the UK as a couple of really good investment schemes. One is called the SEIU scheme and that that allows angel investors to.. Well. For all intensive purposes from a tax perspective get 50 percent of their investment back regardless of what happens to the business. By the way as it stands for Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme that’s available to businesses in their first couple years of business and as long as they haven’t raised more than 250000 pounds maybe 150000 pounds. So we did raise a very small SJS(?) Round once we learned about it. You have to do before your two year or two year mark and we did it. So our two year mark was October of 2015. So once we discovered it we we you know we get 150000 MXR just there. So we we we we found an angel investor who was an enterprise software sales export for many years in this space. So we knew we’d get some value out of the relationship. You know I had plenty of experience on product on marketing strategy not on sales. And so it was it was good to bring Steve into the fold. But just a small amount really to kind of for him you know to get on board and then mostly from friends and family and bootstrapping today but that’s changing because we started to reach a different threshold of business and are really proud to point out that we’re going across a million dollars in revenue this year just short of a million pounds. First time that’s about its root affix growth over last year and it represents about an 8 X rules in terms of the number of workers on our platform. So you know we’re very excited about that and see that there’s the potential it is starting to be realized. So we’ve been getting more interest from investors and now we’re pursuing our first sort of probably around and from a UK or from a UK perspective that qualifies as a nice investment which is the next year. You can it’s a slightly older business is there’s a higher threshold. It’s a little bit less of a tax rate scheme and so we’re raising one and a half million pounds this year. We’ll get started in October. We’re about a third of the way there with with our current investors that we’ve we’ve lined up and talked with a bunch of other ones we should teach investors and not just venture capital firms but other businesses in our ecosystem or in our industry broadly speaking who see what we’re doing and see how we’re doing something that very few people or virtually nobody has done before in our space. And you know see that see the potential that that is great and unusual. Those kind of relationships pay off in other ways different from different from a from the word Foxton. And as you know Katia Myroniuk when you when you’re in the software business that you started raising that’s really just the beginning of another race because you know as you grow and if you have your eyes on the prize of real growth you’ve got to be thinking OK well this is kind of our first real race let’s call it. I don’t know a graduate see a little bit bigger than seat race. That means you’ve got to be thinking about or a race. So you know I spend plenty of time on the phone with venture capital firms who would not be phoning around but need to know where we are because in 12 months we’ll be talking about going a round. And it’s very exciting. Lots of stuff going on and it’s just a really interesting point of business.
[00:35:46] Katia Myroniuk: That’s great. So congrats on reaching this point in 4 years. And so so far it’s been 4 years things the start (?) and I want to ask you about your main obstacles you faced on the way to creating and establishing Sirenum as a brand on the market. And is there any mistakes you could or maybe avoid when establishing it, if in your case 20 years knowledge in this market if you had more experience maybe as a co-founder or with SaaS businesses.
[00:36:27] Josh Pines: Yeah I agree it’s a great question Katia Myroniuk. It is the first part of the question sort of the main obstacles. I mean there’s there’s an awful every every hour. And you know what. The main ones are. I mean at the end of the day it’s primarily about balance balancing the money in with the money out balancing and balancing the you know the sort of investment within that business vs. holding and figuring that balance out as it does it comes naturally to some people of course. But I think the vast majority of founders learned a lot on the fly. I’ve been very lucky. I think we’ve been very lucky that the pension is very good about looking like that. It really is a sign of flight training. Is a biologist by training. And one of the things that you know good scientists do is always learn from from their experience. So we very much early on and I very much agree with his philosophy. BENJAMIN I are really honored to read that there will be an overriding principle for having me. How many Rosarno. So every every effort whether it is commercial products, human resources. We do is an experiment and you know it’s very very much in line with the sort of fail fast mentality or at least started mentality between the start up and the great. I think you know virtually all of our sort of philosophies are covered but basically you know every time we introduce a new feature we are willing to say that’s not working. And I think you know I think what that does is it helps you keep the obstacles low and also helps you kind of get around the next time you see that obstacle or something like that. But you know at the end of the day I mean like most businesses the obstacles are around them. You know having enough money to do what you want to do. Finding customers are going to give you that money and motivating the team that that everything is moving in the right direction. And those are those are challenges whether you’re a 40000 person company like when I was at IBM or a four person company like when I joined joints around them. Yeah. Your second question about mistakes along the way. I mean I think one of the great things about keeping this mentality to sort of experiment scientific mentality is you don’t you don’t sort of wallow in your mistakes very much. But we made some mistakes. And one of the things that’s been our strategy has been building partnerships partnership with existing software businesses in our space partnership with existing consulting businesses in our space and services providers in our space because we knew that we had an enterprise level product that needed the kinds of conversations that sea level conversations that are very hard for you know 10 person company working in a small office in the suburbs. So building partnerships help us help us significantly get down the you know sort of the funnel to these having the right conversations. But we made some mistakes along the way you know in terms of not asking for the right stuff in relationships not pursuing the right you know persons within the organizations and wasting a lot of time on that. But that sort of scientific method mentality (?) that he has made it so that you know again we don’t wallow on it. We learn from it and we move to the next stage with more knowledge and experience based on what what we went through. I think one other thing that we made a big mistake on was very early on we didn’t really appreciate how much of an enterprise tool we had and we sort of thought well it can be a little bit more of a SLB oriented tool. So why don’t we put it on the Internet and see who gets it. You know there was a little bit of that oh it’s the Internet everybody buys it the Internet. You know I think I would remember my first experience with with with a startup in the dot com boom of the late 90s and just you know if you build it they will convert it on the Internet. And so we waste a lot of time giving away free trials and trying to self rule the web before we realize well not a lot of time but we wasted some time and made some mistakes trying to sell directly through the web. When our product is not really suited for that is to directly involved with hoarfrost easily mission critical processes with operational challenges and requires too much kind of you know headspace space on behalf of the business to make it part of the that the existing infrastructure to be modular web sales. We do have a vision to make it make it better in the in the future in that department and expand our sort of flexibility Downs down market. But once we learn that you know we’ve really put more emphasis. We’ve hired a direct sales team. We put more emphasis on the kind of thought leadership and partnerships that establish us as an enterprise brand and again that’s what that’s very much in line with our mentality.
[00:41:56] Katia Myroniuk: I see I can totally agree with you on a matter of when you don’t put any emphasis or much of expectation expectations on your activities. You are in the end if you fail you don’t get upset and if you succeed you can be happy about that organically without a loss of hopes. I can say one of the last questions is how big is your company now. I mean how many employees do you have?
[00:42:34] Josh Pines: So we just crossed that 20 percent threshold which was a really exciting step for us. We hired our first product person which is great which allows Benjamin to actually be a CEO which is kind of nice and not not just be a product of product focused person and obviously you know it’s very common for SAAS businesses that the CEO and the founder is very involved with the product. But there’s many other things that a CEO of needed for so sure it’s been great to onboard a new product person someone who brings you know 20 plus years in the workforce management scheduling space product and marketing. So we’re very excited about that we are very very focused as a team on getting really relevant experience. And so it’s been exciting to grow to grow to 20 people and you know as we raised this round we have really high hopes for Parady (?) another 10 to 15 people on the team and I fully aware and very excited about that challenge of kind of how you manage growth growing the business you know 50 50 plus percent terms of the number of people on the team to date it’s been a very steady growth and that we’ve sort of added as we’ve got customers. So you know that will be things that will be that’ll be next. The next step for us.
[00:43:52] Katia Myroniuk: That’s great. And in the end what is your vision for Sirenum for Sirenum as a company as a SAAS company? Four or five years from today and I think for industry in general do you think that there would be more processes that can be optimized. And what is better to do by a human audience in your company and in the industry and what else would lean towards artificial intelligence?
[00:44:24] Josh Pines: Yes. It’s a couple of great questions Katia Myroniuk, so the our vision for five years from today we’ll fire is a long time that world especially one that in our particular markets where our technology there’s been so much consolidation I don’t see that ending anytime soon. But you know we we feel that the dynamic workforce is really just kind of getting started. As the as you know the world is continuing to change cultural norms evolve. The number of workers who are working hourly whether they’re freelance developers or someone who in a van who works as a cleaner in the mornings you know regardless across profitable spectrum but particularly in areas like nursing like education which I haven’t spent any time talking about it is a big market for us already and has huge opportunity like doctors like engineers the the ability of technology to facilitate their working in a more dynamic fashion. We’ll just continue to drive that growth and is right out the fastest growing part of the work market in the entire Western world. And we don’t see that ending anytime soon. So what that means is if five years from today there’s not just going to be you know 80 to 100 million dynamic workers. There’s going to be 500 million in a ceiling for us to be able to help the businesses who are managing them and by the way that includes the end clients of businesses who are employees that can use these to manage the workers as well. We do have features and functions to help them. I really just touched on some of our features and functions.
[00:46:10] So our vision is really to be that kind of aging to manage those workers. You know we we see ourselves whether we’re providing it directly or whether there’s a kind of Intel Inside powered by model and we do have some relationships that cellotape. You know we want our tools to be the engine on the worker side on the agency side and on the client side to make that process easier. I have to do your question about automation. So we we do have some machine learning or semantic capabilities within the product already. We’re firm believers because this is a people business right. I mean the whole point of having human relations or human resources I should say is that human part right. So we like our tools to be the kinds of tools that automate the processes that are not humans do not add value but facilities that processes for humans do have value. That is we help those people make more informed decisions about how to manage their workers whether it’s where they put them how much to pay them how do we engage them how to communicate with them. And then you know how to sort of report on the business. And it raises the value that that that the the management brings to the table by leveraging our tools. So there’s always going to be a role for machine learning to automate and add efficiency. But in the relationship part and in the recruitment part and the engagement part any ongoing communication part. There’s always going to be a role as well for the management side. You know that’s not to say we have we have ongoing talks both internally and externally to increase the role of intelligence learning into our product because you know there are so many things that can be done that aren’t at all be done by the current workforce. So it’s about additive rather than replacement. In many cases for example for example you know down the road we see the ability to use chat bots to communicate with with your workers at a level of granularity that you know time operational teams. There’s just no way they could have the time but then interpret that information and altering work plans or relationships or even clients based on that is where the role of the operational team really starts that bad business.
[00:48:43] Katia Myroniuk: I see.
[00:48:44] Josh Pines: And I think by the way I just had one last thing about it Katia Myroniuk. I mean I think that that that mentality applies to a lot SAAS businesses. Obviously we’re focused on each our technology operationally and our technology. So there’s a role of people by definition but I think SAAS can play a role not just in fully automating but in making both the people who are using it and the end product sees it impacted better for the people who are part of that whole ecosystem rather than just replacing them.
[00:49:16] Katia Myroniuk: Yeah I think it’s a good idea idea for another talk. I think
[00:49:23] Josh Pines: Absolutely I’d be I’d be glad to have it but that’s definitely a longer conversation.
[00:49:27] Katia Myroniuk: All right so Josh Pines. Thank you. I really really appreciate you making the time to join me and share your story. So if listeners want to get more information about Sirenum they can go to Sirenum.com right?
[00:49:39] Josh Pines: That’s called right. Yes it`s Sirenum.com they can follow us on Twitter it’s Rainham. And you know we love to hear from people who are interested in the business. One of the things about working in a worker focused business is basically everybody has been at work or you know we had a we had a campaign on our blog. My first job was based that we interviewed all our workers and partners about their first job which typically is a dynamic job. You worked in a pizza shop you were there car wash you worked as you know as a as a kind of a mechanic. And so you can relate to the challenges of being a being an hourly worker being a dynamic worker so we always love to hear from here from folks about that
[00:50:22] Katia Myroniuk: Wonderful. So thank you Josh Pines it’s been a pleasure to talk to you.
[00:50:25] Josh Pines: Thank you so much Katia Myroniuk. Have a great day.
[00:50:35] Katia Myroniuk: Thank you for listening. If you want to get more information related to SAAS go to a SearchEva.org In my dot org where you will find other informative podcasts and useful content on SAAS promotions. Don’t forget to subscribe and please show try and read through the like. It will help us a lot to promote this noncommercial project. And stay tuned.