We talked to Gregor Duda of orbnet about tools for accounting, appointment scheduling and customer management, and he had the following to say:-
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Gregor Duda: My family is doing well under the circumstances. Germany is relatively strict in dealing with Corona; accordingly, there are numerous lockdowns, which are sometimes more or less long. I think the biggest challenge for my family and I is not Corona, but the consequences of it.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded orbnet.
Gregor Duda: My business partner and I used to work in consulting and were already interested in automation and digitization back then, and in some cases, implemented them in companies. At some point, we saw that there was a gap between different tools from accounting, appointment scheduling and customer management. That was the starting signal for orbnet.
How does orbnet innovate?
Gregor Duda: I think what makes orbnet really good, in contrast to other software, is the combination and unification of the three subareas of appointment scheduling, customer management and accounting. In addition, our focus is clearly on coaching and consulting. There are numerous functions that are cleverly intertwined and really make life easier for the customer.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Gregor Duda: Corona is hitting our industry particularly hard. Before Corona, our customers spent a lot of time on-site with their customers. They gave training sessions there, took care of employee development and occasionally gave online coaching sessions.
Corona has moved everything and more to the online world. The customers who didn’t think about this transformation before Corona, or at least didn’t start gradually, were overrun by Corona. Unfortunately, many of these coaches did not stick it out and had to give up their business. Those that did, however, benefit even more from the opportunities our software offers. For us, Corona was, on the one hand, difficult due to various losses we had to record in the customer area, thus also financial setbacks, but on the other hand, gave us many new opportunities to work with focused online customers. It is still an exciting time for us, and it is not over yet.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Gregor Duda: The biggest challenge for us was the question “how can we support our customers in the best possible way without jeopardizing our own business”.
We decided to offer orbnet completely free of charge in March 2020, so that our customers can at least straighten out their own business without having to worry about monthly fees for tens of other software, including orbnet.
Of course, this was financially difficult for us, but marketing-wise it was one of the best decisions we could have made. Customers loved this kind of support, told about it on social media, told about it in their network, and as a result, we were able to have a lot of signups in the system. Of course, when we got “paid” again, that put it into perspective a bit, but the positive connection to orbnet continued to this day. We were able to generate not only customers but actually fans who support us loyally. We are very grateful for that.
On the other hand, we also had to make cuts on our side due to the financial restrictions. Fortunately, we didn’t have to cut back on our employees. We were able to take everyone through the crisis and even hire new ones.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Gregor Duda: Since we come from a consulting background, stress is rather positive for us. We can give 110% and are extremely focused. Stress is not a blockade for us, rather the opposite; we are “more productive”.
Of course, you reach your limits here and there and are sometimes very irritated and tense, especially when many end customers lose their own business, and you can’t support them. But at the same time, you experience an enormous strength that gives you hope. This also transfers to the employees, and every single one gives their best and also gives 110%. We are incredibly proud to have such a motivated team and grateful that they are walking this difficult path with us.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Gregor Duda: Our competitors are essentially all providers from the individual areas that we automate. In other words, all providers from the CRM area, from the area of appointment setting and from the accounting area.
Of course, we do not compete with the largest providers on the market. For example, we don’t try to play on the same level as Salesforce, but rather with companies that have 1-20 employees.
Your final thoughts?
Gregor Duda: At the end of the day, in such a far-reaching special social situation, the individual’s self-centeredness does not apply. Only together as a society can we grow out of this difficult situation if we stick together.
I don’t know if you want to call it karma, or “higher power”, but I firmly believe that when good is scattered, it comes back a thousand fold. The most difficult thing is not to try and rely only on yourself in this situation.