We talked to Nathan Svirsky, CEO and Co-Founder of HomeWerk, an Instant virtual team building platform that offers weekly virtual team building activities to help staff members working remotely cultivate long term friendships at work, no matter where they are. This is what he said:
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Nathan Svirsky: All good, thanks – everyone is safe and healthy.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded HomeWerk.
Nathan Svirsky: Over the last 5 years, I’ve worked for a tech scale-up that provided experiential marketing technology for the biggest brands in the world. I lead the UK and RoW teams to help grow the business to over £3m in annual sales and loved every minute of it…
However, last March, we went from £2m in Q1 bookings to £0 in the space of 4 weeks because of the disruption caused to the events industry due to COVID-19. It was an absolutely devastating blow for all of us who invested so much time, energy, and emotion into the company – it was especially bitter because 2020 was on track to be the year it all finally paid off.
But as we know, when one opportunity disappears, there’s normally another one just around the corner.
The idea for HomeWerk is something that we’ve been thinking about for a while. One of the challenges we faced whilst scaling up our old business was that our remote teams were expanding rapidly, and it was important to keep up employee happiness initiatives.
However, even with all the best intentions, we weren’t able to do that when things got busy due to a lack of resources, energy…and laziness, to be honest.
We always thought there was a better and easier way to automate these tasks.
The real opportunity presented itself when Facebook, who was an existing client of ours, got in touch and said, “Hey, you guys come up with great ways to connect people at live events, is there something you can do virtually now that we’ll be working from home!?”
That was really the lightbulb moment because we realized that if our small company in comparison, and Facebook, one of the biggest companies in the world, both had this problem…then there are probably a thousand more businesses that will need a solution!
And thus, HomeWerk was created.
How does HomeWerk innovate?
Nathan Svirsky: HomeWerk offers short, weekly sessions, which are designed to help facilitate team building and spark new conversations between colleagues. We do this through an easy to use web app, which can be accessed via desktop or mobile.
Each week the teams sign into the platform where they can take part in a collaborative activity whilst chatting to their colleagues via our integrated video and text chat. We also automate all the calendar invites, email reminders and take care of all troubleshooting through our live chat.
We provide teams with a varied suite of digital activities that crossover many different themes and interesting points so there’s something for everyone – and they’ll actually enjoy playing each week.
The activities are designed to be funny, light-hearted, and guarantee laughs.
The whole experience is gamified and underpinned by a weekly, monthly, and all-time leaderboard. Users can earn house points, badges, and streaks for different actions taken within the platform – similar to Duolingo and Strava.
We’ve found that adding a competitive element to the engagement goes a long way to improving retention and friendly competition between colleagues.
CEO’s need our platform to help facilitate convenient, imaginative, and authentic solutions to keep their remote teams connected and unified. Remote staff need our platform to help make friends at work through shared experiences, to reduce feelings of isolation, and ultimately avoid burnout.
HomeWerk will become the best solution for any forward-thinking business with a majority remote workforce that understands the value and importance of friendships at work.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Nathan Svirsky: “You merely adopted the pandemic. We were born in it, molded by it. I didn’t see the light until lockdown #3, by then, it was nothing to me but blinding!” –
Blane from Batman Nathan from HomeWerk.
If you’ve never seen Batman: The Dark Rises, then you probably won’t get that reference!
But back to the question, obviously, the pandemic has had an effect on our finances, but actually, it has been more positive than negative.
For example, we’ve been able to maximise our small investment and not spend on things like offices, equipment, travel, and other expenses, which most startups need to factor into their initial operating costs.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Nathan Svirsky: Thankfully, we’ve not had any problems at HomeWerk because we formed it during the pandemic.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Nathan Svirsky: Although our business wasn’t negatively impacted – we are very conscious that the same may not be true for a lot of clients and partners.
Kindness is the most important tool.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Nathan Svirsky: Frustratingly, we didn’t get any support. A lot of what was on offer was, understandably, for existing businesses that were established before the pandemic.
Your final thoughts?
Nathan Svirsky: As the saying goes, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.”
The world is changing quicker than ever, and necessity drives innovation!
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