We talked to Jason Cassidy of Shinydocs on how to develop innovative enterprise-class information management business solutions and this is what he had to say.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Jason Cassidy: The family is doing well, thanks. As for myself, I admit I am a little disappointed over my inability to play hockey regularly, not to mention personally interacting with our growing team. Since the beginning of the year, we have been growing aggressively, which means remotely onboarding a lot of staff that I have yet to meet personally. Weirdly, this is our new normal. Otherwise, I’m doing fine and excited for 2021.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Shinydocs.
Jason Cassidy: I have been in the information management space for my entire adult career, and somehow, after 30 years of digital transformation, the industry has only managed to implement it on 1% of our data. It isn’t delightful. That is the reason we started Shinydocs. We believe that all content should organize, classified, searchable, and disposed of according to policy and legal requirements. Everything should be searchable, not just what’s public on the web. Everything on my laptop shared drives in the organization, emails — every bit of data supports an asset, transactions, and required knowledge. Everyone deserves to understand all their data, and we are working to make that happen.
How does Shinydocs innovate?
Jason Cassidy: We are aware of what technology is capable of right now. We leverage the best in current technologies like high-speed content understanding, comprehensive search, and the ability to mobilize information without destroying the content ecosystem. We understand where the far edge of that technology exists, and we innovate to the very edge of that limit while bringing our customers along with us.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Jason Cassidy: Traditionally, our enterprise deals are global in scope and require getting on planes to work on-site with partners and customers to execute our projects. Transitioning to remote has given us the ability to transact without needing to be face to face. We are completing more deals and finding new opportunities as a result.
Internally, we’ve been aggressively growing our team during the pandemic and have been able to consider and hire remote candidates, which has been fantastic. Externally, conducting business can get a little clunky at times. Some customers have found themselves in challenging situations as they contend with layoffs and work-from-home productivity. But this is such an opportunity for us. Companies have to wrestle with this changing world, and we are sitting in the navigator seat giving directions, providing the strategy as to where they need to go. It’s exciting.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Jason Cassidy: The pandemic has made many choices for us, so it becomes more about how you choose to react to the new reality. For us, that has meant keeping staff connected. We have been using Discord, Slack, and Zoom to communicate, and I have been touching base with the team in a more intentional, purposeful way.
We are lucky in that we are entirely bootstrap. We are not at the mercy of the street, and we are not beholden to external capital. As a founder, I want to make a difference. I want to make an impact and grow our company. Other company’s arms-length investors foresee a 2-year slump and demand cuts. We have seen companies in town take that approach, which feels like a weakness, an easy way out.
The “difficult” or more challenging choice is choosing to do everything we can to keep our people. We tried to be resourceful and opened up our stock purchase plan to raise a ton of funds and offset a tiny bit of wages while keeping folks invested in the company. We diligently pursued funding available to us and ironically got less government funding as we were unwilling to cut jobs. But, making the “hard” decision not to let people go made things harder for us. That is just crazy. When a threat was looming on the horizon, we worked on a plan to get through it together. Bailing on people feels like taking the easy way out.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Jason Cassidy: First off, talk to your doctor and get medicated if you need to be. If you have a sore foot and need an anti-inflammatory, you take it, simple as that. Treat your mental wellbeing the same way.
Beyond that, the best remedy for anything intellectually anxiety-inducing is aggressively educating yourself. Collaborate with coworkers, customers, and peers to gain understanding. It is easy to fear the unknown, so work to eliminate the unknowns. That can mean being prepared to ask the hard questions and dealing with the potentially scary answers. Drive to clarity and be honest in your assessments.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Jason Cassidy: When you are innovating, and customers are looking to you for transformative solutions, your competitors aren’t the other people trying to transform the industry because there’s such a scarcity there. The real competition is the status quo. The existing integrators and the legacy workers do things the same way they have for years, working manually, and staying complacent. The challenge is not about out-muscling other innovative companies but in changing minds and opening opinions on digital transformation. We are pitching innovation, and that pits us against the status quo.
In a bit of luck, we’ve found that the pandemic helps destroy the status quo because companies have to change the way they are working. The conversations are more comfortable. Companies are seeing the benefit of automating as workers are offsite. They are open to changing how information handling is because they’ve adapted to the changing environment. If you are ready to change, you are free to innovate.
Your final thoughts?
Jason Cassidy: Humanity shouldn’t turtle when faced with new challenges. It’s OK to long for the old days. I know I wish I could be on a beach right now, but that isn’t going to happen. As things change, you have to adapt and bring others along with you. We are not just waiting for the world to go back to normal; we drive to what the new normal should be.