We spoke to Joe Chin of SourcePad on how the firm is helping startups build their ideas.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Joe Chin: Everything is going well. Everybody is healthy. My daughter is in school and still playing sports, believe it or not. Outdoor sports, of course, so it’s somewhat on the safe side. So, all good.
How does SourcePad innovate?
Joe Chin: We believe innovation can come from any one of our 50+ employees. So, we try to encourage a lot of creative, innovative thinking. In fact, we do a metrics call every week where the entire team is on the call, and we go over how the company has performed in different areas. As part of that call, we have people shout out to people who have come up with creative, innovative thought (or “CIT”), which sparks people to think about innovation. The other thing we always talk about is the company’s overall goal, which is to become one of the best development shops in the world. Having that goal, along with one of our core values, which is to get better every day – I think all of those things work together to spark a lot of outside the box thinking.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Joe Chin: Luckily, our company was built on working remotely. We already had processes in place, like doing calls by video, doing scrum calls (which are like daily check-ins for whatever group or whatever project you’re a part of), and having virtual team-building exercises, So, COVID didn’t impact us too much from a business standpoint. That said, I think we have been very cognizant that it has been stressful with everyone in the company on lockdown.
We’ve tried to put forth more services on our company’s HR side, so if anyone is feeling down because of COVID, or anything of the like, that they can reach out to the company, and we can help with those situations. We also did something recently where we had a surprise pizza delivered to every person in the company. Just, once again, something to break up the monotony, because we know it is a bit more difficult for people to exist and work productively during COVID.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Joe Chin: Yes, one of the things that help us with difficult choices is one of our core values, and that is to be fair and empathetic. And so, I think we always feel like our company, and our existence in society is sort of like an ecosystem, so we often look at decisions in that vein. It just becomes clearer as to the pros and cons of the company, or maybe for the employees, or for the clients, which are really the three main entities here at play. Having those three different perspectives often makes it clearer to make a decision.
There is also a more formal decision-making process that we use as well, where we create “decision grids” – where we write down all the different options that we can take, or paths that we can go down, and the pros and cons of each. That’s actually a more formalized way of doing it. And that often helps with the thinking – that everybody’s on the same page because everybody can contribute to this grid. And once we all agree on the grid, then often the decision becomes more obvious.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and SourcePad in the future?
Joe Chin: That’s a great question because, yes, certainly being the CEO of a company is stressful, as I explain to people who have never been in that situation. Basically, everything comes back to you. You’re responsible for everything that goes on in the company, ultimately. So, it is a little bit stressful. How do I deal with it? Well, I try to enjoy the journey of growing a company, along with thinking about it as a responsibility. I think that balance helps. Because if you aren’t enjoying what you are doing, certainly you’re not going to last very long in terms of the stressors generated. So, that’s one aspect of it.
Secondly, I share a lot about the company’s mission to everybody in the company. I try to be extremely transparent about what we’re looking to accomplish and what the challenges are.
And thirdly, just on a personal level, I like to do certain things that destress me – I might pull out a guitar and strum on it for a while. So, that really helps, and I also exercise every day in the morning time, religiously. Pushups, situps, squats. That usually gets me off to a good start, gets the blood moving, and also gets out a lot of the anxiety.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Joe Chin: In our particular field, meaning applications and apps for startups, there aren’t that many companies that do it well. It’s quite a challenging niche. To build applications and apps for startups, you have to be really good at technology. Most of the time, your clients rely on what you’re building to be everything for the company – meaning it is the marketing, it is the customer acquisition, it is the product or service. So, it is revenue. It comprises a large part of each client that we work with. So, you have to be really good at that, and you have to be really good at marketing because startups inherently are always cash-constrained. So, it’s a bit of skill or ability to be able to market really well. Luckily, we’ve had some really high-profile clients, ones that have been bought by Time, Inc., or Twitter (for $30 million), or one that’s worth three billion dollars today, so I think it really helps with the company.
But in terms of who our competitors are, I struggle to even name one that even seems like even a close competitor to SourcePad. There are tons of companies that build apps and applications, but none that are kind of in our niche, I would say, that build really high-end stuff for companies that want to be the next Instagram or the next Airbnb, or the next Facebook. There aren’t that many companies that, I think, target that specific niche, if that makes sense.
Your final thoughts?
Joe Chin: Pandemics are a tough time for everybody, from service companies, startups, big companies, and entrepreneurs generally, which is our client base. But a lot of great companies were born in the toughest times. And we can think of the typical examples (AirBnB, Instagram, WhatsApp, etc.), but we’ve already seen a number of really exciting companies come through our client base during this pandemic (like SkillCite and TaxCure), so I would say that at the end of the day, it’s always the entrepreneurial spirit and innovation that wins the day in the end.
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