First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID19 times?
Thibaut De Lataillade: We had nine family members at home in the first week of the lockdown, so it was a full house! We had five until the end of the lockdown working or studying in our home. We were able to share some good moments cooking, eating, and even debating.
It’s, of course, frustrating for teenagers and young adults to be locked down with no option to meet your friends or take advantage of the famous Barcelona nightlife, but our children accepted and respected all the restrictions.
I feel lucky to have a demanding job at GetApp. I have good working conditions at home and a great team, and the majority of our team had the benefit of already being used to working remotely.
Tell us about you, your career, how you joined GetApp?
Thibaut De Lataillade: I started in life sciences, moved to strategic consulting, and then created a website for physicians in 2000. I sold the company to a software service provider and decided to stay in the software industry, working for small, midsize, and large vendors.
I joined GetApp by chance, after meeting one of GetApp’s founders in a restaurant on the beach in Barcelona. He introduced me to Gartner, and here I am!
How are you helping your teams cope with stress and anxiety, and keeping them motivated in this remote work environment?
Thibaut De Lataillade: We’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the best way to manage this. In the beginning, we didn’t know how long the lockdown would last, but after a while, we realized it was going to be long-term. We had about nine weeks of strict lockdown, and we wanted to make sure we stayed connected to the team.
Besides traditional work meetings, we made sure we held skip-level meetings that were really informal. Of course, all associates were dealing with the anxiety of working remotely. We shared everything we knew about the situation and how our company was responding.
We also kept people motivated by sharing our vision, strengths, and long-term plan for the business. We have a team at GetApp called the Happiness Team, which is in charge of organizing fun activities. They have been quite involved in organizing virtual happy hours and masterclasses to make sure associates are still engaged and motivated and not falling into a routine of just work, work, work.
In which ways has the coronavirus pandemic impacted your business? How did you adapt?
Thibaut De Lataillade: Most of the small businesses we work with pivoted or shifted their business model. Small businesses suddenly had very different needs; Remote work-related software was top of mind, so we saw a shift in traffic and search intent.
When GetApp sees traffic changing, we know we need to adapt.
We saw this happen during the pandemic, so we created a page for COVID-19. We also pivoted our content strategy. Nothing in our content plan was going to be relevant, so we decided to completely change strategy to talk about remote work topics—like how to use VPNs to enhance security when employees are working from home, how to run your business from home with different tools, how to recruit and interview new candidates remotely, and more. We shared a lot of tips on how to be more effective while working remotely. Overall, we had to completely adapt our content strategy to this shift in the customer mindset.
How does GetApp keep innovating?
Thibaut De Lataillade: Innovation is in our DNA at GetApp. We’re a small team—super agile. Everyone has an innovation mindset. It’s not only the product and engineering team, but everyone working for GetApp. We ask them to seek outside-of-the-box solutions to challenge the status quo and make sure we’re always thinking about better ways to do our jobs. All these innovations are important.
I’m usually a big fan of whiteboarding, drawing ideas, or sticky notes and being in a room together. Obviously, this is super difficult to do remotely, but we found an app called Miro that’s really good for this purpose. It’s a board where you drop sticky notes, and we’ve hosted several productive brainstorming sessions with different teams on different topics.
When you see everyone playing with the sticky notes, people changing what they’re writing, everyone looking at everything at the same time, it’s super exciting for creativity and group dynamics. Not being able to collaborate creatively was one of my main fears during this remote work situation. Still, again and again, we’re finding having the right software in place is so important for your business.
What’s your advice for tech start-ups to stay competitive during the pandemic?
Thibaut De Lataillade: Stay laser-focused on your core business. Right now, we’re going through a period where you have limited resources, you’re most likely cutting spending or reducing headcount, so you need to be super focused. You need one objective, one core business model you go after, or you lose track of your efforts.
Another recommendation is to listen to customers, both by talking to them and also looking at the numbers/stats and what they tell you about your customers. To use my company as an example, even though we stayed true to our main goal, we used data to completely change our content plan (which is not easy to do when you have a large, cross-functional team). We’ve been able to identify statistics that there was a big change for our users on our site. Ultimately, you have to change how you operate to meet your customers where they are, but still, stay laser-focused on your core business.
What advice would you give to other small businesses and start-ups trying to thrive in uncertain times?
Thibaut De Lataillade: I’m glad you asked. GetApp recently published an interesting article on this very topic where we looked at how small businesses changed their business model. 92% of the small-business owners we surveyed did change their business model. For instance, they may have changed their pricing structure, or pivoted from a dine-in restaurant to a food delivery service.
What’s most important for this situation is to be able to adapt. Pivoting is most important if you are impacted during this time. Of course, not all businesses have been impacted negatively, as some industries have benefited from the crisis, but for all the others, pivoting means adapting.
As part of adapting, small businesses can gain an advantage by considering IT and software as a driver to implement their new business model. Many companies realized their business model had to be digitized to survive. Take restaurants, for instance. Except for online booking software, a lot of restaurants didn’t have much of their business online, but through this period—when you’re pivoting from being a brick-and-mortar business to an online delivery model—you have to change your mindset completely. Even though you’re selling food, the model is so different you really have to use the right software tools as your foundation.
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