Highlights of my conversation with Ryan Baker

  • Promoting Work Life balance with a 100% remote team
  • Scaling a business: insights from Fairfax, Trade Me group acquisition of previous business.
  • The Microsoft Bizspark programme for early start-ups
  • Increasing brand awareness via word of mouth
  • Developing an internationally accessible pricing strategy
  • Listening to clients, and planning and implementing improvements

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Heather:        Hello, it’s Heather Smith here. Welcome to Episode 16 of Cloud Stories. I’ve got a really interesting interview for you today. This week, the Queensland Writer’s Centre gave me a couple of tickets to go and see Russell Brand’s new movie which is called The Emperor’s New Clothes. I didn’t think I’d actually like the movie before I went along. I anticipated it might be a bit painful but I actually found it quite enjoyable … well not enjoyable but quite an interesting movie. It’s described as sort of a documentary film about the growing disparity between economic classes and it’s directed by Michael Winterbottom.

It’s kind of like the big companies are using tax havens and maximising their opportunities to minimise tax while the small businesses are struggling and the people are struggling and the disparity between wealth distribution. Yes, I found it quite interesting. Today our interview is with Ryan Baker who has a real wholesome view of both small business: how a small business should run, how a small business should treat its employees, its team and its customers, and while we didn’t get into his tax, I’m probably guessing that he doesn’t have an offshore haven in the Cayman Islands.

Back to our session today. Today I’m speaking with Ryan Baker. He is the cofounder and CEO of Timely Booking Software. Timely is a booking and scheduling platform used predominantly in the health and beauty industries. Launched in 2012, Timely is growing fast with customers in over 60 countries. Often described as a breath of fresh air, Timely is popular for its easy to use and affordable solution. Famous for listening to their customers and constantly improving the software based on customer feedback. Timely say they have the happiest customers in the world.

Of note there, I actually use Timely and have used it for over a year in my own business. Ryan is the CEO of Timely Booking Software. Prior to launching Timely, Ryan cofounded bookit.co.nz which was acquired by Fairfax Trade Me in 2010. He is the proud father of three boys and on a 17 year husbandry apprentice. He’s still waiting to be called up for the NBA.

The first question I asked Ryan was if he could bottle something from his childhood, what would it be?

Ryan:              That is a fantastic question. What would I bottle from my childhood? I think the thing I would bottle is the amount of time my family and I spent together. My mum and dad were both people that really cared about work/life balance. We spent heaps of time together. My dad was a high school teacher. He was home most of the time in the afternoon when we were coming home from school. He was the first person there on the sideline at our sports events.

Mum was there growing up the whole time we were as well and one of the things I really value as an adult now, having three kids of my own, is spending a lot of time with them as well. That’s actually part of the Timely story, is the way we value our work/life balance.

Heather:        That’s really lovely. I completely agree with that. It’s kind of what the cloud gives you, the opportunity to be present for your actual family and just constantly talking to your kids and stuff like that which is really good. Thank you for sharing that with us.

Ryan:              Yes.

Can you describe to our listeners what Timely does?

Ryan:              Sure. Timely is a cloud based appointment scheduling system. It’s used by any kind of small business that needs to run an appointment book. They tend to primarily be in the health and beauty industries so places like beauty clinics, hair salons and day spas. What we do is we provide them with a really simple to use system, something that they can get up and running quickly in their business and something that will scale with them as they grow.

So far we have about 12,000 users of the product in 62 countries around the world. It’s growing quickly and it’s very global as well. We’re finding a real demand for it everywhere around the world.

Why did you develop Timely?

Ryan:              Prior to Timely, we had a similar business that did booking software for the tourism industry. That was acquired by Fairfax in 2010 and became part of the Trade Me Group here in New Zealand. That was an awesome experience working with those guys and seeing how they’d scaled that business.

One of the really interesting things for us while we were working on the tourism booking system was that we got approached quite regularly by businesses outside of the tourism industry, those sorts of industries I mentioned before, the health clinics and the hair salons asking if they could use our system for that. That really intrigued us because we wondered why in a space that it would appear was well catered for by software solutions, small business owners were looking outside of what was available.

When we looked into it, we could really see why. There were a lot of outdated systems, very expensive software and we could see this big shift to cloud computing. We really felt one of the groups of people that really stood to benefit the most from the shift to cloud software was small businesses just in the way that it could put really high quality software into their toolkit in a way that was very affordable to them. We’d just spent seven years learning how to make online booking systems for small business owners and it made sense for us to stick to what we know.

Heather:        So you saw an opportunity. It wasn’t something you came from. You saw an opportunity and you had that knowledge behind you. The two met and you took that and went with it.

You mentioned the Trade Me acquisition and you mentioned that you saw them scale your business, are you talking about you saw them scale the previous business that you owned?

Ryan:              Yes, both. The way they took that product in-house, the way they wrapped a team around it, the way they developed a strategy for what it could be and what it could grow into. Being a part of that was great but just being there while they were doing that with the core business as well, the auctions business.

We joined Trade Me fairly late in their journey but they still grew from I think 120-300 odd staff while we were there, so being part of that expansion and watching how they approached that and how they valued culture within the business and values of the company and those sorts of things was an awesome experience for us.

Heather:        For our overseas listeners, Trade Me is … I describe is as sort of a New Zealand version of eBay. Is that correct?

Ryan:              Yes, I’ve used that line before as well.

Heather:        I know that when I visited New Zealand at Christmas time, I was walking down the street and someone had a Trade Me t-shirt on which I was quite surprised about. I think I even took a photo of it because I thought, “You don’t see people walking down the streets with an eBay t-shirt on. It obviously is a very much loved company in New Zealand.”

What programming language is Timely built on?

Ryan:              We’re a Microsoft shop. We’ve built the product on Microsoft Stack and we did with our prior business as well. We worked relatively closely with the crew at Microsoft for quite a long period of time now. It’s been really interesting to watch how that whole tech space has evolved during that time. We’ve had an awesome amount of support from Microsoft and the BizSpark Programme they have for early stage start-ups is a great thing.

When we started our last business, the first thing we did is try to find $5,000 to buy a server and then try and work out how we were going to find $5,000 a month to pay for the hosting of it and the software licensing and all those sorts of things. This is only 12 years ago.

It’s just amazing launching Timely, the difference in that landscape now. I think we were able to build a product, get it to market and get 100 paying customers without the hosting of it costing us anything, and probably more importantly without having to spend any time setting any of that up because we could partner with the cloud infrastructure team at Microsoft, that was all taken care of, and we could just focus on what we were doing which was building the product, making sure that it was going to be something that customers actually wanted to use and pay us for. That’s the sort of thing that flows on to benefit the small business owners.

Heather:        Absolutely.

Ryan:              Instead of us having to sit here and invest a huge amount of resource in setting up infrastructure and things, we can focus on the product, and it means that our price point that we pass onto our customers is so much more friendly to them and their business which is great.

So the Microsoft BizSpark Programme, I’ll leave links to that in the show notes, they’re not equity owners of you are they? They’re just in there supporting you, is that correct?

Ryan:              That’s right. you have a heavily subsidised subscription to Microsoft Azure which is their hosting platform. That’s normally enough to get you started. Like I said, I think we got the Timely Solution up and running in production and we were able to grow it to about 100 customers using the solution within the first year or so. Then after that once you need to start scaling it up to meet demands, then those subsidies start wearing off. There’s also subscription for a two maybe three year period, I’m a bit sketchy on the details but to the MSDN libraries as well. That’s all the licenses you need for developing the product and all the tools that you need locally to start your business.

Heather:        Excellent, thank you for sharing that with us. I think we have, in Brisbane, a Microsoft BizSpark Programme, so that’s going to be really useful for people to hear that.

What were the biggest challenges you faced in your business Ryan?

Ryan:              I think the biggest challenge is a challenge we’re still facing and we probably will for some time, which is just overcoming our obscurity. When you start out, nobody knows who you are. We’re pretty passionate about the product that we’ve built. We think we’ve built something pretty amazing, and the feedback we’ve got from the small number of customers we’ve got so far is pretty positive but there are hundreds and thousands of other small businesses all around the world that we’d love to be using Timely as well. That’s our daily challenge and that’s a really big one.

The three of us that started the business, we’re all tech cofounders. For the most part, most start-ups should be pretty confident that they’re going to be able to build a good product. That shouldn’t be your biggest challenge. But the biggest challenge that any new business will face is just awareness, getting your name out there and growing.

How are you then tackling that brand awareness?

Ryan:              We do a bunch of things in the early stages but the cool thing from my perspective is that increasingly we’re narrowing that down to the things that really work well for us. I guess the thing that doesn’t change is that we learn a lot every day. There’s not really one silver bullet. We’ve tried literally dozens of things. We’ve developed theories for channels that might work to reach our customers. We’ve invested time and energy to try those, measure them, keep doing the bits that work well, cut off the bits that don’t work well and we’re almost three years into it now. We’re starting to get into a really nice rhythm.

To give you one sort of pretty practical example for us: in the spaces we’re in, a lot of start-up founders talk about word of mouth and that they grow by word of mouth. Sometimes it’s a bit of an easy answer to give but particularly for us, our audience, our customers are sharing people. They’re people that do talk a lot to each other.

It’s really interesting for me comparing the types of customers we have today with the ones we had in the tourism space. The product was very similar but the customer is very different. You’d have two similar businesses in the same area and they would be arch enemies. They wouldn’t talk to each other and they’d be quite grumpy if you would work with both of them.

In the health/beauty/fitness space, it’s really different. They collaborate a lot. They talk to each other a lot. They’re not particularly cutthroat. You’ll have two salons on the same street, the owners will probably meet up once a week and have wines, and they probably send each other clients. When they have a good experience with software, they definitely talk about.

So we’ve put a lot of energy into tapping into that and making sure that we make it really easy for them to do that and rewarding them when they do that for us. About a third of all our customers now come through that word of mouth channel from our existing customer base which makes us feel pretty loved to be honest and really well supported by our customers which is nice.

Heather:        That’s really interesting that that group or industry group behave that way. I wonder if it’s perhaps that they have … they operate on a vision to improve people’s health rather than to make money in that that’s what they’re all doing. If it all works, they’re happy with it.

Ryan:              I think so. I think part of it as well is that a lot of them have chosen the industry they’re in because they care about their own lifestyle as well. You could probably loosely describe all of them as lifestyle businesses. They’re people that, like you say, they do what they do because they love it and they want to make other people feel beautiful and feel good about themselves. Like I said, they’re not particular cutthroat. That’s a great thing and they’re a nice bunch of people to work with and have as customers.

It lines up really nice with the culture that we have, that we’re building at Timely as well. One of the interesting things about the way that we’ve set the business up is we all work remotely. There are 25 of us now. That’s been something that we’ve worked hard on to make work well and it’s been something we’ve had to plan pretty carefully and approach in a pretty careful way. We’ve built a team of people that all buy into the idea that there’s something more important that they’re here for as well.

It’s unlikely that anyone is going to write that I made great booking systems on my gravestone when that time comes. We line up the way that we’re building the company and building our team at Timely with the way our customers … with the way they live and breathe as well. Being flexible with our working hours and those sorts of things is really important to us as well as our customers.

How do you encourage a work/life balance within your team? You’re flexible with working hours. How are you encouraging it and how can other people sort of take what you’re doing and implement it?

Ryan:              We’ve done it from the start which I think makes a big difference. I think it would be very hard for an established business, if you didn’t have a remote model, to try and move away from that. You’d be able to add elements of it but we’ve kind of gone all in from day one. I guess the word for me is trust. We place a lot of trust in the team we have around us and we’ve been careful to find other like-minded people to bring onto the team from the start.

That’s kind of one of the luxuries of founding a start-up, is being able to be a bit selective about the people that you have around you. They tend to be people that have worked in that environment before. Like yourself, getting yourself out of bed at 5:30 in the morning for an interview with someone in New York, it’s not something that you really know whether or not you’re cut out for unless you’ve done it before. Are you going to drag yourself out of bed that morning? Are you going to make that happen?

Heather:        I jumped out of bed.

Ryan:              Exactly, and probably more importantly what’s your mindset from that point on? You started work at 5:30 that morning, do you sit there till 5 o’clock all day because that’s what you would do in a normal work environment? Probably not. The members of our team certainly wouldn’t and they know that we encourage that as a company. So probably that afternoon, you might have something … one of your kids might be in a school play at 2 o’clock. It’s a no brainer. If you can make that work for you and your business and your work and your customers and your family, why wouldn’t you?

Heather:        Yes, absolutely.

You have 100% team of 25 people working remotely. On a day-to-day basis, what does that look like?

Ryan:              Pretty nerdy. We use a lot of tools to help us work together and collaborate.

Can you share with us, the listeners, what sort of tools you are using?

Ryan:              Yes, absolutely. It’s probably a nice surprise that it’s a heavily cloud based toolkit that we use. It’s one of the questions I get asked a lot about having a team set up that works remotely is, “How do we know what’s going on and how do we communicate because we’re kind of scattered around?”

Once you’ve done it for a while, the opposite is almost true. I probably feel more connected to a fully remote team than I did when I used to work in an office environment. I remember a job I had years ago where the chap I mainly worked with was in the office next to me. We would email each other and then maybe say cheerio at the end of the day.

We use Slack for our team chat. We use Yammer, so anything that needs to have slightly longer shelf life than a quick chat, we will pop on Yammer. That’s more of a noticeboard type tool. The list is long. We probably have about 30 or 35 different cloud based systems that string together to kind of shape what we do. We use Trello heavily as well. We use Trello. Most of the teams will use Trello as a way of managing projects and kind of daily tasks and that sort of thing. Then we obviously use file storage stuff like Google Drive and we use the Google Docs products pretty heavily in terms of the way we collaborate.

Like I say, once you’ve got that setup established, in terms of communication, I’m probably more connected and more over the top of everything that everyone is doing every day, every minute of every day because it’s all in writing.

One of the neat things about that is when you need to go out for a meeting or if you’re involved in something else for an afternoon, you can come back and catch up on every conversation that’s taken place because most of them have happened in writing and are kind of there for you to go back over, which does become quite a powerful thing. It becomes a valuable and useful thing.

Heather:        Very good.

What processes do you have in place to ensure it’s working? Do you have results orientated work? Are you setting goals to ensure people are doing the work? It sounds like you’re saying you don’t have to work eight hours a day, you just have to deliver this. Is that correct?

Ryan:              There’s a bunch of things that we’ve done and if I can answer your question with a really broad brush. The first thing that we’ve done is everybody that’s on the team today is a shareholder in the business. That’s something that we invested a bit of time and energy in at the start to get set up. We didn’t want 25 staff. We wanted 25 cofounders in the business with us. We’re quite passionate about the idea that in order to win, that kind of set up is going to work really well. To answer your question, for the most part we have a team of people that think about the business in the same way that we do. Most of the time that involves answering the question, “What’s best for our customers?”

Again, like you getting up early in the mornings to do an interview with someone in New York, quite often our team will schedule a Skype session to help somebody get Timely set up. It might be in the middle of the night. It might be first thing in the morning but they do it because they see the opportunity that we have in front of us and they care about the business.

Beyond that, we do a bunch of stuff like you mentioned. We’ve kind of jumped on the train with that … objectives (and Key Results) that are OKR’s processed … that became popular in the valley a while ago, places like Google use it, I know Vend use it here as well in New Zealand. That’s just a really light weight and simple quarterly objective setting process where we kind of throw a dart at a whiteboard of where we want to end up and we all spring for it as fast as we can. Then down to a day-to-day level, we do a bunch of pretty traditional stuff like sprints and those sorts of things, daily stand-ups. Does that answer your question?

Heather:        Yes, so you’ve got 25 cofounders and they’ve all got a vested interest in actually making the business successful. To get that ownership from employees or team members, team members seems to be the more favourable word there, is excellent.

Ryan:              Yes, unfortunately in New Zealand where we’ve established the business, setting that up has been more difficult than it really needs to be. The way our company and tax law are set up, it’s not really well structured for having employee equity programmes but the challenges we’ve had setting up have been well worth it.

If you compare it to the US markets where they have those kinds of share ownership programmes pretty well established and been around for a long time, it would be much easier to get set up. So in terms of anyone listening who’s in the early stages of a business and thinking of getting that set up, it does take time, it does take a bit of energy to kind of get your head around and get working but the best thing you can do is get people who’ve done it before.

If I can give one other recommendation for our lawyer we use in Auckland BuddleFindlay and Sacha Judd there, she’s been awesome getting that set up.

Heather:        Okay, thank you for that. I’ll get the details and make sure to leave them in the show notes because I’m sure a lot of people will find that very useful.

Ryan:              Cool.

Ryan, how do you develop an internationally accessible pricing strategy for Timely?

Ryan:              Yes, great question. Pricing is always a really tough one. We’ve been going for almost three years now. Pricing hasn’t changed a lot. We’ve made one round of changes to the way our pricing structure works. The main thing we’ve done is we want to make it work really well for our customers.

One of the things we’ve learnt about the customers we work with is the value they derive from the software is based a lot on the number of staff that they have using it, the number of staff they have making appointments, the number of bookable staff they have in the business. That was the big change we made to our pricing late last year. The way it works now is there’s a starting price of $19 a month for the product and then an additional amount for each staff member that you add on.

The good thing about that change is the software and the price of the software kind of grows with the business. They tend to be businesses that have … they start small but they can grow quickly. They can bring on staff, lots of staff, for short periods of time and then sometimes they have them go as well, so they can scale the price up and down as they need to. We tend to keep that structure pretty consistent. We obviously adjust it a bit with currencies and things.

We have pricing at the moment is available in New Zealand dollars, Australian dollars, US dollars and also pounds in the UK. In the UK I think it’s £15 pounds and then £5 pounds per staff after that.

Heather:        Yes, it’s quite hard even on a yearly basis, keeping on top of the exchange rates because I’m sure some months you’re making a lot of money and then other months it kind of drops down with the movements happening.

Ryan:              That’s right.

Heather:        I recommended your solution to an accountant with a small practise recently and she said after implementing it, she was saving herself two hours a week in administrative time. If you calculate that out over a year against her rate, it was saving her about $10,000 in unbillable time that she could obviously redirect into billable hours or leisure hours.

From your perspective, how is Timely helping small businesses master their own time?

Ryan:              First of all, thank you for recommending us to your accountant. That’s a fantastic story. I think maybe I need to record you saying that and perhaps have that on our website. That’s actually really pleasing to hear because as a team, that’s what we get together and talk about doing, and we have been for a few years now.

We really want to empower those small business owners. They’re very time sensitive people. A lot of times when you talk to them and spend time with them, particularly the owners, one of the ways they solve the challenges they have which is scheduling and their time management is they work longer hours. More often than not, that’s not a great thing. It’s like I say, they have families and they have other things in their lives that are important to them as well.

What we want to do with Timely is to really give them control of their schedule. As you say, make them masters of their time, give them more time in their day basically by making it easy for them to schedule appointments, making the software that they use smart so it schedules customers within the right time periods, and gives them really good visibility over their schedules.

There were some pretty basic things we saw happening in the industry that weren’t great for the owners of these types of businesses, installed software that they can’t access from outside of a salon. It’s just an insane thing to watch playing out. You’ll have a salon owner that shoots out for some supplies and meets a customer and the customer wants to make an appointment and they can’t do that.

Whereas with Timely, the kinds of stories we’re hearing, like the one you’ve just given, just open up and given them so much more control over how they can run their business onsite and offsite, checking their schedule when they’re at home or away on holiday or even when they’re just down the road. Like I say, they bump into a customer in the supermarket and they say, “Hey, you haven’t been in for a while. Why don’t I make that appointment for you right now.” They can do that. They can pull out their smart phone and do that in Timely, which is an empowering thing for those small business owners.

Heather:        Yes, definitely. If I wasn’t clear for our listeners, I’ve personally use Timely for about a year now. I’m just on the single user rate and I find it just an amazing tool. It’s actually that relief of not having to hold the calendar in your head all the time. You just say, “Look, book it there.” It’s not having to have the six emails back and forth saying, “Can you do this time? Can you do that time? Can you do this time?”

I’ve also found that it also … you’d have a time booked and then people would kind of flex around the time and go, “It was booked for 11 but I’ll turn up at 11:30 or something like that.” it’s like, “Well no because I’ve got another time booked at 11:30. It doesn’t work like that.” So it actually forced them to actually stick with the time.

The other thing is you get an email every morning telling you what your schedule is for the day which is kind of nice as well. You get this PDF … even though you can look at the calendar, you get this PDF printout of what you’ve got to do today which is kind of nice. You go, “Okay, fit that in.”

You don’t have that whole layer of stress is off your brain and you’ve got capacity, for myself, to just think about something else because I know that’s going to work, I know it’s there, the client knows it’s there, I know it’s there, it’s got addresses in it, I know I can just be on the road and look at it and see the address of where I should be going, etc.

Ryan:              Yes, it sounds like it’s kind of a PA for you.

Heather:        Yes.

Ryan:              A $19 a month PA.

Heather:        Yes, absolutely, and so worth it because even if it saves you, for me personally, it only needs to save me like 20 minutes in a month to make it worth it and it’s saving me a lot more time than that.

Ryan:              The other kind of really big and tangible benefit for small business owners as well in the space is reducing the number of no shows that they have. Somebody who doesn’t turn up for an appointment because they either forgot about it or they weren’t really that committed to coming in the first place. The Timely product provides a few different features that help them with that.

The visibility is one thing but we also send both email and SMS reminders of appointments and the business owner can choose when and how those are sent. But in terms of time saving and bottom line benefits to these types of businesses, that’s another one that we hear a lot as well. More often than not, saving one or two appointments in a week that otherwise wouldn’t have turned up, that pretty quickly pays for the cost of the software as well. We hear that pretty often.

Heather:        Definitely. It pays for itself within a day of using it I’m pretty sure.

Ryan:              There’s another great quote from you Heather to bottle and put on our website.

Heather:        The other thing there, as you mentioned, it sends texts and emails and you actually have the option whether you want to go with the texts or emails setting up. The other thing is when someone books, you have the option to force them to pay or not force them to pay, which again improves your cash flow. If it’s a set time and you know that’s what it is, that you actually get the payment out of them which is a good thing up front.

Ryan:              That’s right.

Heather:        So for years, businesses must have relied on paper diaries or the likes for their booking software. You’d think that once you built the structure of a booking software in place, it would be pretty straight forward and stagnant yet every time I log on, you seem to have brought out another update or a new feature I never realised I needed.

What process do you use to listen to your clients and how do you plan for the developments and improvements?

Ryan:              Good question and I’m glad you’re noticing all the work that the product team are doing. We ship a new version of Timely almost every other day, about three times a week we’re shipping some sort of changes to the software. That’s another thing that’s really changed in the landscape with cloud computing these days. It’s driven by a couple of things. One it’s driven by the fact that we can do that more easily, just by the way that type of platform works.

The other is that the expectation for software vendors to do that is there with the users, so the small business owners really expect the software that they use to keep improving and keep changing and keep evolving based on their feedback. It’s all of the big successful SASS businesses that have gone before us, things like Salesforce and MailChimp and those kinds of businesses but closer to home Xero, we’ve just seen them go over 500,000 users this week.

Heather:        Yes, very exciting for them.

Ryan:              They’ve done that from the start as well. We’ve been using Xero since 2007 as a customer and they’ve done that as well. It’s really just changed the mindset of what a small business owner expects with their software. That’s a big part of where the opportunity for us comes from as well.

We talked a bit earlier about why did we start Timely and there was a bunch of other systems in the market? Part of the opportunity that’s presented to us is that you now have hundreds of thousands of small business owners all around the world that expect software that improves and changes every day or every week at least. That’s hard for the incumbent providers to do overnight. We saw that as a pretty big opportunity in terms of the way that small business owners in this space would start to demand this sort of agility which is nice.

But to answer your question, the way we go about it is we pretty much run a democracy. We put our customers at the centre of that process. We have a product that we use called UserVoice which allows them to vote on features.

Heather:        That’s right, yes.

Ryan:              It’s quite neat because it pops up within the app. it’s not just a blank canvas type thing. One of the things that the tool does which is really neat is … and you’ve probably seen this using Timely, is it will pop up every now and then and it will let you know about two or three features that we’re thinking of building and it will ask you for your opinion on whether or not those would be a good idea, and invite you to give us some comments about what they might look like if we built them.

So we’re constantly gathering feedback from our customers about things they would like to see changed in the product, things they would like to see added. One of the things we’ve learnt by being involved in this space is that the list is never finished. In fact, it only ever gets bigger. Like you say, I guess from the outside in you think one day that this thing should be finished and it never is because there’s always something cool, something new, something better, some other way of working that we want to support within the product. I think we’re standing on about 1,000 open feature requests at the moment.

Heather:        Wow. That seems really overwhelming.

Ryan:              It is, although it’s quite easy to see the ones that have a lot of demand. We’ve been lucky to put together a really talented tech team. Our product and tech team are an amazing bunch of people. They just get up every day and just, like you say, they just smash features out. Our customers log into the product and they’re just delighted. I see it quite often in the feedback and reviews that we get, people asking if we’re somehow hacking their computer or reading their mind because quite often we’ll add a feature that they may be thinking about and before they’ve had time to ask us for it, it’s there.

Heather:        Excellent, that’s what you want to hear, isn’t it?

I should ask you. You’ve got your 25 people in your team, are they all based in New Zealand?

Ryan:              Most of them are. Yes, we have most of the team based here and then we have … we’ve just put a chap in London recently. The great thing about that is it gives us really good time zone coverage. So having customers in 62 countries now, we have to sleep sometimes …

Heather:        Yes, you definitely need that time zone coverage.

Ryan:              In New Zealand but we have customers who are still awake all around the world and they still want to find out about Timely and get help with stuff when they need it. It’s an exciting opportunity in that market as well. It’s a big place. The business owners there, they live and breathe and think in a very similar way that we do, so we’re finding the products are really resonating with them, and our company and our culture and the way we work with our customers is really resonating with them as well.           The growth in that UK market is pretty exciting too.

Heather:        Excellent, that’s really exciting to hear for you.

Ryan, what do you look forward to doing most in your business?

Ryan:              I guess the thing that’s exciting for me at the moment is the growth. Some days it feels a bit like having a tiger by the tail but the business is growing really quickly. There’s a bunch of things that come with that: reaching out to new markets, getting customers in all sorts of different industries. Like you said, the product is mainly used in those health/beauty/lifestyle type businesses but we have a real range of other sorts of businesses that are using it as well. It’s fun to watch. People come on and find creative ways to use the product.

But with the increasing appetite for customers to adopt the system, there’s just a heap of things that we need to do at our end to manage that. Those are things that I look forward to, so building a team of people, watching them kind of grab the baton of the business and run with it and do an amazing job of looking after our customers and building the product, watching that side of things scale is really fun. Like you said, you jump out of bed for it, that 5:30 interview. We jump out of bed to do that every day. It’s pretty awesome.

Heather:        Excellent. I put it to social media that I was interviewing you today and asked if there were any burning questions out there.

Ryan:              You didn’t get any. I’m sure you didn’t get any.

Heather:        Oh I did. Do you not want me to ask you it?

Ryan:              I’m just surprised if you got any to be honest.

Heather:        I did. I got one.

Ryan:              Okay.

Heather:        I got one from … I hope I’m pronouncing his name correctly, Jose Mathias, which is Twitter Handle @josemathiasnz and he said his question was for you, who is Ryan’s favourite employee.

Ryan:              Oh wow. That’s rough. I actually have a really answer to that question because one of the people that I started the business with was my wife. When your wife is on the payroll and someone asks you who your favourite employee, there’s really only one answer isn’t there?

Heather:        Very good. Take that Jose. Very good. Thank you for that. Do you have anything else you’d like to share with our listeners Ryan?

Ryan:              No, I don’t think so. I mean it would be remiss of me not to invite people to come and have a look at our website, www.getTimely.com, obviously if you’re interested in the product, for small business owners as well and people in that kind of wider network, any advisers, accountants, bookkeepers. There’s a bunch of resources on there that are useful for small business owners as well.

The site isn’t just about what’s Timely and using Timely. We’ve put a lot of effort in a similar way to Xero and Vend, to really become an information source for the types of businesses we have as customers. So there’s a range of good information on there. If you have people that you know or customers who are in those types of industries: health clinics, beauty salons, those sorts of businesses, there’s probably some stuff on there that they would find interesting to read.

Heather:        Brilliant. Thank you for that. I should also mention two things. You mentioned you have a Twitter handle … as well as the Timely Twitter handle, there’s @Timelylife #Timelylife which is …

Ryan:              We do, yes.

Heather:        A showcase of the work/life balance that Timely really has a good vision about. While you keep mentioning the health and beauty industry, I know that I’ve interviewed and spoken with another accountant who runs a big accounting practice, and he has Timely in place and it worked really well for him. He said it was massive for him too. So for the accountants, because I’m sure a lot of accountants and bookkeepers are listening into this, it works really well in your industry as well.

I only have a small number of bookings because of the way I work but it pays for itself in seconds. I’d encourage you to have a look into it. Thank you so much Ryan for speaking with us today and sharing your insights. People are really going to benefit from this session. Really appreciate you being on the show.

Ryan:              You’re welcome. Thank you very much for having me.


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