Earlier this year we reached a milestone - 100,000 onboarding experiences have been powered by our platform. Those experiences represent 100,000 people starting new jobs, returning from extended leave, or off-boarding from a business, and we were able to make that process more personal and more engaging for them and their managers.
Our Founder and CEO Brent Pearson took the opportunity to reflect on our journey so far.
While 100k is a nice round number and a substantial number at that, I see this as just the beginning point in our journey. I don’t think it will be long before we are celebrating the 1M milestone, and THAT will be a huge achievement for us. That said, reaching the 100k milestone is a great opportunity to stop and reflect on how we reached this point.
The journey to 100k has been better than I initially expected. I’ve read stats that only 6% of startups succeed. I felt my chances were quite good because I'm no spring chicken and I'd had experience in quite a few of the key functions (raising capital, product management, sales, customer success, technology), but still, anyone that starts a company is taking risk... for sure. Here are a few of the lessons I’ve learned along the journey...
Lesson #1 - Listen to the ‘buts’
My initial idea was actually quite different to what Enboarder eventually became. I built a low-fidelity prototype of the first idea, took it out to my network and did some validation testing - but I kept hearing ‘buts’ and so realised it wasn’t quite right. Those early testers did, however, gravitate towards the onboarding element within that first prototype - it was clearly hitting a pain point with them.
I accepted that feedback, took a step back, did some intense research and realised that I was drawn to the idea of reinventing onboarding from a human experience perspective.
The important lesson I learnt there was - your first idea might not be the right one. I think there are some founders that mentally disregard the ‘buts’ during the initial phase and only focus on the positive feedback. Positivity in an entrepreneur is very important, but you need to be willing to step back and listen to what your testers are telling you.
Lesson #2 - Validate, validate, validate
When I took the revised concept, which would eventually become Enboarder, back to the testers I knew I had something - they didn’t just like it, they wanted to buy it.
When I officially founded Enboarder in 2015, I was betting on the premise that given the chance, the market would embrace experience-driven onboarding rather than sticking with the ‘tasks and paperwork’ status quo. And that bet has proved accurate.
One of our first customers - oOh!media got it from the beginning. Alana Bennett immediately got excited - she knew she had a problem that needed addressing and had been waiting for the right tech solution to come along. This experience, and those with similar customers was further powerful validation that we were on the right track.
Lesson #3 - Hire well, and invest in marketing early
As I think back on the critical decisions that were made early on, I am reminded of how important it is to choose the right new hires. I was lucky in that I got some great talent onboard at the beginning who really shaped the product. Although given my time again I would have hired a Marketing team much earlier on!
Lesson #4 - Pick investors that have the same values/principles as you
I’ve found that early investors make a huge difference, and I was lucky to cross paths with Our Innovation Fund (OIF) who have been fantastic. The impact of early investors cannot be understated - the right ones have the experience to really guide you. I call it ‘smart money’. Anyone can write you a cheque but not everyone will be actively and positively involved in the business, helping us avoid potholes and achieve healthy growth. OIF had, and still have, the right principles that make them a good fit for our business.
So what’s next? Our team is preparing to put the accelerator down and really dominate the category. We are focused on major growth over the coming year, including expanding our international presence.