14 Minutes of SaaS

14 Minutes of SaaS

E60: Bridget Harris, Co-founder and CEO of YouCanBook.me – 2 of 2, Nailing a Remote Culture

Bridget Harris, CEO & Co-founder of YouCanBook.me in conversation with Stephen Cummins for the 14 Minutes of SaaS podcast. Part 2 of 2. #14MoS

E60: Bridget Harris, Co-founder and CEO of YouCanBook.me – 2 of 2, Nailing a Remote Culture

Episode 60: Bridget Harris, Co-founder and CEO of YouCanBook.Me interviewed by Stephen Cummins. Bridget Harris digs a little bit more into her experiences and knowledge around building, empowering and motivating distributed teams. She explains how YouCanBook.me got into some of their growth verticals and marquee customers. She described Brexit wonderfully as ‘What kind of a circus are you running here’ and since I interviewed her the UK has certainly found a clown to run that circus. Bridget also uses her academic background in what we refer to as the classical world to beautifully illustrate a point about how entrepreneurs need to keep moving forward with positive intent – and not get distracted by past failures or current laurels.

Transcript: Bridget Harris part 2 – SaaStock 2018 14MoS – 14 Minutes of SaaS

Bridget Harris

In the early days when we were growing YouCanBook.me and it was happening really fast, my analogy was that it was like landing a plane in the dark every six months. I think you’ve kinda basically managed to predict it right. You know, get used to the journey … because actually most of your experience building this tool or business or product is, and it’s a cliché, but it is about that journey. It’s not about landing on the ground. It’s not about the massive exit. Or about some kind of ‘I succeeded!’. How your journey ends is not necessarily your experience halfway through. And I think that for any entrepreneur you need to be alive and intentional about every week and everything that you do. You need to be able to say ‘Yes, I’m enjoying this. This is good.’ rather than I’m sacrificing for the sake of something I think I’m going to get. Because you might not get it. Or even if you do get it, it might take 20 years. So I think you need to be prepared to invest.

Nailing your culture, knowing who you are, and making sure that when people join you that remote company isn’t the same as working from home. What it is …. is actually a way of working which requires autonomy and trust and to get on with it. If you love bouncing around an office chatting to a million people all the day – and being an extrovert and that’s how you love to work … probably remote working is not going to suit you. So when we hire, we hire for a remote first person. And so remote changes an awful lot about the way we choose to grow our company.

Stephen Cummins

Welcome to 14 minutes of SaaS, the show where you can listen to the stories and opinions of founders of the world’s most remarkable ScaleUps.

In this our 60th episode of 14 minutes of SaaS, the conclusion of our chat with Brigitte Harris, she digs a little bit more into her experiences and knowledge around building, empowering and motivating distributed teams. She explains how you can book me got into some of their growth verticals and marquee customers. Brigid also uses her academic background in classical antiquity to beautifully illustrate a point about how entrepreneurs need to stay in the moment and keep moving forward with positive intent – and not get too distracted by past failures, current laurels or future possibilities.

Stephen Cummins

Now you hire remote employees .. which brings its own challenges. What’s the one or two top tips you’d give to companies doing that these days.

Bridget Harris

So the top tips would be that remote isn’t just like an afterthought. It’s not like a convenient thing to do – to just to hire better people. You actually hire different kinds of workers who want to work for a remote company. And again we’ve been having some really good conversations with huge remote teams here …. like I was talking to David from Hotjar yesterday.

Stephen Cummins

I interviewed him today.

Bridget Harris

Oh fabulous. There’s 40 of them now. And one of the things I’m really interested in is … YouCanBook.me is 15 people. How are we going to grow to 40 people. How do you get to … you know someone like Automattic … you know WordPress’s parent company. They have about 500 people and you have to go all in. And me and David were agreeing … you can’t do hybrid. You can’t have a mothership and then some peripatetic people around.

Stephen Cummins

He has an incredible focus on culture. And he spoke highly of you as well actually.

Bridget Harris

Nailing your culture, knowing who you are, and making sure that when people join you that remote company isn’t the same as working from home. What it is …. is actually a way of working which requires autonomy and trust and to get on with it. If you love bouncing around an office chatting to a million people all the day – and being an extrovert and that’s how you love to work … probably remote working is not going to suit you. So when we hire, we hire for a remote first person. And so remote changes an awful lot about the way we choose to grow our company.

Stephen Cummins

You are in the top right hand corner of G2 crowds’ online appointment scheduling quadrant. that’s one. It’s one of the selectors I use – amongst many when when I when I look for the valuable time from amazing founders. Now … you’re number one for satisfaction. The most important thing really. YouCanBook.me versus Calendly. Which on is better? And why?

Bridget Harris

Yes controversial either way. I’m sure a Calendly is better than you can book me on on many things actually. One of the things you get used to in the online appointment scheduling world is there’s like one hundred and fifty of us. And often people will come to us from calendars because we do something that Calendly don’t. Equally somebody will say ‘well I’m leaving YouCanBook.me because I’m going to schedule once or I’m going to a pointless or I’m going to …. ‘ … you know all of these other great tools, because there’ll be something very specific about the way they like to manage their schedule that we do … or that they don’t or whatever.

In terms of Calendly what they’ve done for the whole sort of group of software tools … if you like … because they’ve done a really great job in spreading the word about the utility or online scheduling. Yesterday was talking about the fact that we’re proud of the fact that we’re top of the tree on G2 crowd and I think the reasons why people love YouCanBook.me is because we’re very customizable … we’re very, very personal and customisable experience for the customer. And you know I’m sure you can do something like that with Calendly – but I know that’s why people love YouCanBook.me.

Stephen Cummins

Now you’ve got marquee customers like Box, Insightly, Shopify and Rovio … amazing customers … but how did you initially get traction presumably with smaller guys.

Bridget Harris

Yes. That’s a very good question. Well actually … we sort of thought of a bit of a sneaky way of doing it really. I’m not saying necessarily this is repeatable, but we actually built another tool called ‘When is good?’ …  which is an aggregate scheduler. Which I know sounds ridiculous, but it’s a bit like a Doodle or something …  One of those kinds of tools that finds a time when a group of people can meet. We built When is Good. And still there today people love ‘When is good?’ … but it’s a free tool. Wasn’t making us any money. And what we found was that people were trying to use ‘When is good?’ slots for mutually exclusive times. So they’re basically trying to use it as a scheduler – as a booking tool. So eight years ago we built a booking tool on top of Google Calendar – which looked a bit like ‘When is good?’ … but essentially it was doing the job that YouCanBook.me does today. And so we were able to market YouCanBook.me off the back of what was already …. you know … hundreds of thousands of people that were using When is Good. So we did have a bit of a bouncy start – essentially to propel us. And then of course as I said before – online scheduling begets booking – bookings beget bookings – so we’re in a nice world.

Stephen Cummins

So it’s a very horizontal application which means you’ve got a big market and everyone can benefit from it. But nevertheless, a vertical focus is usually a good thing to build a bridgehead at the beginning. I noticed you’re quite big in the education space. Did that just happen or did you design that?

Bridget Harris

So it sort of just happened in the sense that when we built the bookings too, we imagined it was going to be used for small businesses. That was originally what we thought, because that’s where our revenue was coming from. And what actually happened was we benefited a huge amount from Google Apps for Education that all the school districts in America and universities have been adopting. And still do. So in the university education sector in schools in America, they would use YouCanBook.me for parent teacher conferences – which was a massive growth channel for us. They would use us for you know professor – student bookings, that kind of thing. So we used to give that software away for free to everybody. And that helped us grow. So it was one of our growth channels, our marketing channels.

I think about a third of people who YouCanBook.me are in the university sector. And again they absolutely love YouCanBook.me. And it’s one of those things where we get a lot of love from you know school district secretaries in Wisconsin or something who use YouCanBook.me – and we’re very proud of that. But our kind of major vertical sector that we focus on are the Box … Shopify …these big companies which I would call B2B2B – so their customers are also business customers – and they’re using us for customer success, onboarding, sales, recruitment – that kind of B2B interaction where you’re not charging for your time but you just where time is precious basically – and you just need to get the scheduling in the diary as quickly as possible.

Stephen Cummins

Describe Brexit in less than 10 words. Oh my goodness that’s just too depressing. Stephen what kind of a circus are you running here.

Bridget Harris

Oh my goodness that’s just too depressing Stephen … What kind of a circus are you running here?

Stephen Cummins

Okay it’s a great way one. Linkedin Co-founder Reid Hoffman once said an entrepreneur is someone who jumps off a cliff and builds a plane on the way down. If you can pass on one piece of advice, or two pieces of advice, to someone looking to become an entrepreneur … What would you say to them?

Bridget Harris

I think yeah … that’s a funny analogy. In the early days when we were growing YouCanBook.me – it was happening really fast – my analogy was it was like landing a plane in the dark every six months hoping that you’ve basically managed … to predict it right. I think that a misconstrued assumption is that you think its all gonna be over in two years. You know when people would buy two year upgrades on YouCanBook.me I just could not believe you know that they would have that much trust in my tool. That they seemed to be thinking longer term than I was thinking about my tool – because somehow we would pivot or flip or sell or you know move to Tanzania before then. I just couldn’t think long term. Because you’re stuck in the weeds. And in the day to day. I think I would say to any entrepreneur this is thinking about jumping out of the plane … that’s great but make sure you have a parachute, make sure you packed lunch, make sure you ordered food for next week … you know basically it’s a long way down. You know …. get used to the journey …. because actually most of your experience of building this tool or business or product is about that journey. It’s not about landing on the ground. It’s not about the massive exit. Or about some kind of ‘I succeeded’.

And Solon has this … Solon in ancient history. He was saying to Croesus, the king of Lydia, who was asking .. ‘Now who’s the happiest? Who’s the most successful person?’ And Solon refused to say it was Croesus because he was still alive … and he hadn’t finished his journey. Obviously we have this expression ‘As rich as Croesus’ … but of course after Solon went off, the Persians came and invaded Lydia … and Croesus was nearly burned at the stake. And at the end of that, Croesus said ‘Oh I know Croesus meant now’. How your journey ends is not necessarily your experience halfway through … and I think that for any entrepreneur you need to be alive and intentional about every week, and everything that you do. You need to be able to say ‘Yes, I’m enjoying this. This is good.’ rather than I’m sacrificing for the sake of something I think I’m going to get. Because you might not get it. Or even if you do get it, it might take 20 years. So I think you need to be prepared to invest.

Stephen Cummins

Great advice. Be in the moment. It’s more sustainable and embrace what you’re doing.
Final question for you Bridget. What’s the one quality that you have … do you believe … that’s helped you succeed in politics, and now as an entrepreneur?

Bridget Harris

Anybody who knows me and listening to this will laugh because I think this is true …  which is I think I’m a very strategic thinker. And so I think I’m you know … I’m good at a lot of things, but I think the things where I can see success … on any of the careers I’ve done … is because I’ve been able to think strategically and understand where I’m trying to get to. And then work out the tactics of how to get there. And I think that’s really, really helped me. And I think that that’s again helped me think more about a more longer term vision for YoiuCanBook.me … because of that ability. And there’s great strategic thinkers out there that can also help you get better at thinking strategically. But I think you have to be able to think strategically to do what I do.

Stephen Cummins

Bridget Harris. Listening to is like a breath of fresh air. Thank you so much for giving us an interview for 14 Minutes of SaaS here in SaaStock.

Bridget Harris

Thank you Stephen. It’s been a pleasure.

Stephen Cummins

In the next episode we meet Martin Hanke. He grew up in a small place in Estonia and ultimately became co-founder and former CPO chief product officer of a certain well-known rocket ship known as pipe drive. He talks about the importance of product validation as early as possible and about how entrepreneurs and product builders need to stay focused.

Stephen Cummins

In the next episode we meet Martin Henk. He grew up in a small place in Estonia and ultimately became Co-founder and former CPO (Chief Product Officer) of a certain well known rocket-ship known as PipeDrive. He talks about the importance of product validation as early as possible. And about how entrepreneurs and product builders need to stay focused and clear, and avoid distractions.

You’ve been listening to 14 minutes of SaaS. Thanks to Mike Quill for his creativity and problem solving skills. And to Ketsu for the music. This episode was brought to you by me, Stephen Cummins. If you enjoyed the podcast, please don’t forget to share it with your network, subscribe to the series and give the show a rating.

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