One reason workplaces will always need managers is that no one likes to manage. Employee monitoring, productivity monitoring – tedious. Ideally, good employees are entrusted to carry out work independently, project results are self-evident, and managers spend more time receiving praise than wrath from clients. Ideally.
Hubstaff is a SaaS solution for tracking time and gauging employee productivity. An automatic, silent, background manager if you will, that makes it easier for companies with virtual employees to communicate hours worked. Screenshot software randomly records employee activity. Employees have a handy clock to record how much time they invest in each project. And the application also makes it easy pay employees, through automated hour tracking and with convenient PayPal integration.
Co-founder and CMO of Hubstaff, Dave Nevogt, shares more about his efforts behind this tool for connecting a remote workforce:
Why did you become an entrepreneur?
I was stuck in a job that didn’t challenge me. I felt the need for more and to get ahead faster. So I started working on an internet company when I got home at night from my corporate job. It worked, and I never looked back.
What inspired your current startup?
I’ve been looking for similar software since 2008, but I didn’t have the ability to build it. As my career progressed more towards software over the years, building the remote team software became a reality, so that’s what I set out to do. The idea to start a company selling this software was born out of a need for an easier solution for managing my remote team of contractors.
What makes your startup so killer? How is it different from the competition?
We help management get better information about the way their virtual team is working so they can make better decisions. For example, take a young company that has hired a developer but they also have that person doing some technical support. A few months go by and their development projects are not moving as fast as they would like. The manager can login to Hubstaff, and learn at a glance that the developer has been working 4 hours a day on tech support and 4 hours a day on development. That’s a management issue, not a contractor issue. The contractor is doing what they were told, but the decision to have the developer doing tech support is not only holding up development, but also costing the company much more than needed. Hubstaff helps companies see this kind of data across all functions of business.
How do you motivate yourself and your team?
I’m self motivated by the need to win. For me, it’s much like a video game, but you measure winning by users coming into your platform, and the game is 100% open world. You point your focus at anything you want. Every second you are making a decision of where to focus your time based on the needs of your company. That’s exciting to me, because it’s what determines whether you win in the end.
If the Internet didn’t exist, what would you be doing?
I’d own a landscaping company.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs who are struggling to get their businesses off the ground?
Add a service component to your business if it’s currently 100% product based. The reason is that service based businesses have mostly a variable cost structure (only spend money on fulfillment after you make money) and they are quite a bit easier to sell. This will help “keep the lights on” while you develop your product out further.
What has been the biggest startup surprise for you (good or bad)? Have you had any incredible/funny/challenging experiences that you can share with us?
The most challenging aspect of the business is by far the development of the software / product. I’ve done a few of these now in software, and the story is always the same. The software / product takes thousands (hundreds of thousands) of dollars to develop, and a long time (we’ve been in development at Hubstaff for over 16 months now and we are not even half way done with the product. This turns into a very challenging situation, because you’re spending money without having revenue.
How do you handle frustration or disappointment?
Just have to move onto the next opportunity. I don’t let much at all if anything get me down. What’s done is done, and there’s always something new to get excited about.
What are the top 3 online tools/websites/devices that you couldn’t live without? (And why?)
- Google Drive – let’s my team work together on the same specs via comments. This really speeds up the planning process.
- Dropbox – The same thing that Drive does for communication, Dropbox does for files. I have 4 computers and I can pick up one computer and know with confidence that I will always have the most up-to-date versions of all my files.
- Pivotal Tracker – This allows me to assign priorities and manage workflow of our product.
If you had $1 million and one year off, what would you do? (Other than work on your current startup)
Either travel through Europe or try to get a non-profit off the ground.
How do you maintain work/life balance?
Having a young family pretty much requires that I am available for a decent part of the night, and also, I just know that my kids will not be small forever so I need to take advantage now before it’s gone. Before I had kids, it was a little harder.
Who would play you in the movie of your life, and what would be the theme song?
Robert Downey Jr. / Red Hot Chili Peppers “Hey”
How has being an entrepreneur changed you for the better? How has it enriched your life?
It’s forced me to learn a lot about all aspects of business and given me a deep understanding of what people want. It’s also given me a lot of confidence with the way I approach everything in my life, because I know that I can “figure it out” with enough hard work.
What is the tech scene like where you live?
Tech scene in Indianapolis is great. There are several start-up groups that meet on a monthly basis, and also tons of successful start-ups. It’s a very active community with 3 large universities funneling new talent to Indianapolis.
Where can our readers find you?
How can the KillerStartups community help YOU?
Try our software and give us feedback on what you’d like to see up build into it. I’m also going to look into the hour-long webinar. Thanks, you do a great job!
What’s the one thing that a start-up should do first in their business?
After you understand your customers, the best thing to do is to hire someone to make them happy and provide great responses. The reason is that this is a very time-consuming aspect of the business, and you need that time for other areas. You can also outsource this for a good rate, and you can find many very capable and friendly people to help.