Each week in the New Tech Newsletter we feature a Spotlight Q&A with founders, angels, New Tech alumni presenters, and other people or companies in our community we believe you’d like to learn about. Reach out if you’d like to recommend a startup, founder, angel, accelerator, or New Tech alumni presenter for us to spotlight for the PNW tech community!
This week we spoke with Samarth Mod and Rohit Boolchandani, founders of Freshworks Studio.
What is the most valuable thing you’ve learned since you first presented at NTNW?
BE prepared for a journey that will not always go according to plan. In entrepreneurship, you’ll have to constantly adapt, change, learn and move on. This is perhaps the toughest thing to learn right off the bat; it takes practice and time.
BE HUMBLE – One of the most underrated qualities of successful entrepreneurs is humility. You need to be humble enough to constantly learn from your market, customers, peers, and colleagues — to be a sponge — absorbing all the relevant knowledge while not taking failure personally.
BE STOIC – Stoicism is the ability to control your emotions when things don’t go according to plan. Be a thermostat, not a thermometer; take a step back to reflect and adjust. And ask, “How’s the current situation going to impact me in three to four years?”
BE FRIENDLY – At a time when everyone is trying to capture clients’ attention, friendly persistence, vulnerability, and humor are powerful traits. Treat everyone as unique, not as one-size-fits-all.
BE OPEN – Networking is immeasurably critical when you are starting out. You can waste a lot of time going to events that don’t add value, but once you find someone who trusts and believes in you, go above and beyond to maintain their trust. Make them look good and always express gratitude.
BE CONFIDENT – Once you are in front of a potential client, tap into your self-belief and remember, “You got this!”
Did the pandemic cause your company to change/pivot your business model or strategy?
During the past year (May 2020-August 2021), we have hired 48 new team members, officially growing our team to over 90 diverse individuals. This has included expanding our people operations team to better support all of our employees. We are targeting to reach 100 team members by the end of the year to keep up with the ongoing increase in demand for our services.
Along with many other companies, our team moved to be fully remote in March 2020. This meant virtual meetings, virtual interviews, and getting more comfortable than ever with our remote collaboration tools. It also gave us the opportunity to make all positions available for full-time remote candidates. This has opened us up to the labor market across Canada and even globally for some roles. We previously had a work from home policy that gave employees the option to work remotely, but not full-time. We have updated that policy to provide all team members the autonomy to decide what work environment is best for them. Everyone is now able to work fully remotely if they choose.
While we’ve always had an inclusive workplace, becoming 100% remote-friendly has made this more true than ever. To accommodate remote team members, we have updated a number of our tools, practices, and processes. This included updates to our company’s communication practices so that all the important information was delivered equally – we started doing things like pre-recorded announcement videos and added additional company-wide Slack channels. We also provided tip sheets and training for remote meeting etiquette and advanced features of remote meeting software such as Zoom and Google Hangouts.
We are learning faster than ever because we have more engaged people with diverse perspectives trying to find better ways to work together more cohesively, nimbly, and effectively.
What is the most innovative way your tech solves the problems of your customers?
We are working towards building the future of digital government here in Canada. A future where court costs and delays are drastically reduced through virtual hearings, and language interpreters are easily available for everyone. Where your identity as a Canadian citizen is verified digitally and trips into government offices or long lines have been eliminated. Publicly available property information from BC Assessment can be accessed by pointing your phone camera at a home and the information is displayed in augmented reality. Everywhere that efficiency can be increased means people can spend time on higher-value activities. This creates more knowledge workers, reduces administrative overhead, and allows the government to deliver better services to its citizens at a lower cost to taxpayers.
In the past year, we have been actively working to expand our operations in the Canadian public sector. Several times this year our client partners called on us for rapid response projects due to COVID-19. By helping unlock the power of open-source code for digital government, we were able to provide solutions to the governments of both BC and Alberta in a number of days or weeks. We helped build BC’s Traveller Screening System in just 5 days. This expansive platform dismantles the complexity surrounding self-isolation and gives travelers returning to British Columbia clear and simple guidance to implement their self-isolation plan. In a little less than 30 days, we also helped the Government of Alberta build a modern web-based traveller screening system for COVID-19. All travelers are required to complete the accessible and user-friendly self-isolation questionnaire and automated processing helps agents determine which travelers have appropriate measures planned to properly self-isolate upon arrival. We helped build an app to deliver digital health services to First Nations communities and created a place for health care workers to find mental health support and resources. Now more than ever, technology continues to transform our world. For us, that has meant the work we’re able to do is helping real people in our communities. And that feels pretty good.
What is something interesting and unexpected that people would be surprised to learn about your company?
Our company was founded by two people, Sam and Rohit, who immigrated to Canada in 2013. This is certainly a big part of why diversity has been baked into our culture. But the reason it is part of our foundation for success runs deeper than that. Diversity & Inclusion are not just buzzwords – we truly believe that once the concepts are fully embraced, an organization, a community and a society can reap the benefits of having different perspectives. There are many places where diversity and inclusion are integrated into our practices and thinking. Last year, we prepared our first diversity and inclusion report so that we could have a baseline to work from for improvement. One of our established goals for this coming year was to build on our report and turn it into our first formal equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) strategy. This year we achieved our goal and implemented our formal EDI Strategy into our overall company strategy and objectives.
Reach out if you’d like to recommend a startup, founder, angel, accelerator, or New Tech alumni presenter for us to spotlight for the PNW tech community!