Gary Bury Talks Timetastic, Japan, And His Hobby Job
Keeping track of employee holiday leave can cause headaches for managers and HR alike. There are deadlines to meet and with team members vacationing and enjoying cocktails on the beach, it’s important for managers to know when key players are coming back. Gary Bury’s startup, Timetastic, makes this aspect of the office much easier.
Timetastic is a site and mobile app that simplifies this process by allowing employees to request time off via the web or mobile application. Managers are then able to see, in a straightforward manner, who is taking time off, who is currently on vacation, and who will be taking time off.
It’s an intuitive solution that makes the whole mess of organizing time off in the office environment much simpler.
We had a chance to speak to Gary Bury about Timetastic and here’s what he shared with us:
What were the early days of the company like?
Much more hectic and unstructured than they are now. We were the epitome of flexible trying to supply anything to anyone. We never said no, it was always yes yes yes, and as a consequence we were pulled from pillar to post. You wouldn’t know what you were doing from one day to the next, then a client would ring up with a new request and it would all change again. It can be exciting working like this, but it’s very destructive. You need focus and consistency if you are going to thrive.
Can you tell me about the early days of your company?
Although Timetastic is new, mediaburst is not, we’ve been around for over 10 years. We still think of ourselves as a start-up though, and we want to bring new apps and developments into the market. Starting out on Timetastic was very natural for us, everyone at mediaburst has an entrepreneurial spirit and when we first floated the idea it was a unanimous yes. The idea of creating something from scratch, using our technical and marketing skills on an entirely new product was very appealing.
Did you begin with funding or was it self funded?
How many people were involved when it began and who were they?
There are 8 of us at mediaburst and we’ve all been involved to some degree. James Inman has done most of the development work and we’ve used external designers for the website and video.
What new elements are planning on rolling out to improve your company?
We’re doing a lot of work on our websites at present to improve our marketing and make our products clearer. We’ll be running 4 different websites, getting them all designed and developed is a huge job. It’s also pushing a lot of back end development, improvements to our billing processes and administration. In the end we’ll be an easier company to deal with and our products will be much simpler to use.
How do you see your company in five years?
What lessons have you learned from running your own business?
I’ve learned that business doesn’t have to be so serious. I believe if you do one thing and do it well then you’ll find yourself working in a very comfortable place. You’ll be providing a service that is first rate, your customers will love you, they will pay you without question, recommend you to their friends, and you’ll sleep better at night.
What inspires you?
The feeling of providing a great place to work. A place where people genuinely enjoy their time. We all spend a lot of time at work, we should enjoy it.
What does being successful mean to you and do you believe that you’ve achieved this?
Being successful means running a profitable company where everyone is happy. The effect of the workplace is quite broad, it covers customers, shareholders, directors, staff, their families and friends. My friends say I have a “hobby” job, I love this description because they are right, work doesn’t feel like work, and that’s a great feeling.
What advice would you share with someone considering starting up their own business?
Stop reading this and get on with it. Oh, and stay true to your belief, don’t change direction for that customer because that’s a very slippery slope.
Do you have a favorite author?
With two young kids I don’t really find time to read anymore, I wish I did. I quite like books that challenge convention or take an sceptical view of life. Things like George Orwell and to the opposite extent observational comedy like Ben Elton.
How do you relax or unwind?
I spend time with my kids, snowboard, and occasionally play golf.
Are there any mobile apps that you find particularly useful for you and your business?
We use Zendesk for customer, and Zero for accounts. Both have apps that are very useful.
If and when you have time for a vacation, where do you like to go and with whom?
My next holiday is a week in Wales with my wife and kids, later in the year we’re off to Cyprus. I try go snowboarding to France at least once a year my brother is by far my favourite person to be with on a board.
What country would you like to visit that you’ve never been to and why?
Japan, I like places with a completely different culture, Japan would be a cool place to visit.
What languages do you speak and how did you learn them?
I’m terrible at languages, my French teacher at school once told me I was “shit at French,” so I dropped the subject. I spent three months in Indonesia and the language was very easy to pick up. They have no plurals or tenses, no masculine or feminine.
What trick or “life hack” have you learned that helps you balance your work with your personal life?
Leave work on time, just do it, the walls won’t fall in around you just because you left on time.
How do you handle frustration?
Frust-what? I’m actually quite impatient so frustration can creep in from time to time. It’s just part of normal work, if you know and understand what causes the frustration it shouldn’t be a problem to dwell on.
What’s your office environment like?
It’s nice, friendly, comfortable. There are 8 of us who work in open plan. We have once large central desk with two people on each side. We believe that our collective understanding and problem solving is better than any individual one, and with that we are happy to work in open plan where everyone can hear and see what’s going on and contribute where they feel they can add value. You can see our office here.
Can you tell me what your typical day entails?
I can’t function until I’ve had a shower and a cup of tea. I spend most days in the office and I’m in by 8:30. We’re a small company so I get involved in anything. You’ll find me responding to customer service emails and sales leads, I’ll be speaking to web designers and agencies. I’m not a developer but I’m a sounding board for many of the decisions made in our technical department. I’m generally away by 17:30. We don’t work late. We don’t have that kind of culture, and I don’t think it’s necessary if you get your priorities and strategy set right. That said I do a lot of web research at home in the evenings.
Do you feel like you’re always working or are you able to distance yourself from your startup?
There’s no doubt I’m always working, but that’s not a stressful thing to me. It’s part of my nature and I’m happy with it. There is one exception, when I’m snowboarding, there’s no room in my head for any work thoughts.