We talked to Annil Chandel of Wurkr about the SaaS model allows users just to sign up and get going, and he had the following to say:-
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Annil Chandel: Having my daughter back from University, schools in lockdown and my wife working from home, it’s been a full house, but we have coped well, and our Cockapoo Buddy has been keeping us busy and entertained with walks.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Wurkr.
Annil Chandel: I’m a computer science graduate and have spent the last two decades in the global recruitment industry. My career has taken me across three continents in leading companies, including PLCs and fast-growing staffing companies, as well as a ten-year entrepreneurial stint launching my own company in the UK. Following which, together with my wife and two children, I relocated to India to follow the ‘rising sun’ economy.
Music has always been a passion, from my days as a DJ to my claim to fame launching a music single, leading me to TV, radio and a top 40 position in the UK indie charts.
In 2015, after a corporate career, I embarked on a new entrepreneurial journey with Tim Lloyd and the late John Pullan, launching a remote-first recruitment company called KnownFour. Having realised that the feeling of connection between distributed teams often gets lost, in early 2017, we started building a virtual office platform for our own use to stay connected. This quickly gathered momentum and took the shape of Wurkr in 2018.
How does Wurkr innovate?
Annil Chandel: Apart from the usual staying agile and free, we found that welcoming motivated interns and giving them free reign to research and design innovative ideas was a very successful approach for us. We then guide the innovations into MVPs and, with the support of existing users, fast-track the developments into live products and solutions.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Annil Chandel: As with all companies, we have felt the financial pinch and being a start-up, government support and funding has been slim, so we have continued to self-fund. We were in the middle of going live with a paid product in July 2020; however, we took the active decision to keep our product free for all – our way of giving back to companies who needed to work from home. We have recently completed seed funding which was also impacted and took much longer than anticipated due to the pandemic.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Annil Chandel: As we are still a young start-up, we have been fairly lean with hiring, and as such have not faced any major challenges. We do use interns on a regular basis which helps us to attract some great talent. In addition, we have outsourced certain functions to ramp up our technical development captive teams.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Annil Chandel: As a tech company, tools have always been key, and we have invested in Hubspot for our customer engagement and CRM, which has worked well for us. We are constantly researching new solutions to improve this even further. Hubspot has allowed us to scale up our support and for customer engagement teams to be more responsive. Although our SaaS model allows users just to sign up and get going, we follow up every single customer with a personal approach too.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Annil Chandel: We’ve kept the business going without additional funding or grants.
Your final thoughts?
Annil Chandel: As a rising start-up during the Covid-19 crisis, we can share our first-hand knowledge on how companies – particularly small businesses, which are the lifeblood of the economy – can make themselves more resilient and crisis-ready. Caught unawares by the pandemic, many small companies may not know where to start to stay afloat and may also find it difficult to find relevant information on strategies that they can adopt to grow post-pandemic. My biggest tip is that one of their first priorities should be to create a digitally-led strategy that allows a seamless shift between in-office and remote working, focusing on enhancing employee wellbeing and customer satisfaction.
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