First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Sam Dolbel: My family and I have been living as “digital nomads” for the last few years and are fairly location independent. When we saw the first wave of lockdowns coming, we decided to fly to Spain and wait it out in Ibiza, where we went through one of the strictest lockdowns for a couple of months, flowing into a once in a lifetime opportunity to enjoy the island summer without tourist. Once their emergency state ended and tourists started to return, we repatriated to our family home in Thailand, where the virus is not an issue. All being said and done, the pandemic has not changed much for us as a family.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded SINC Workforce.
Sam Dolbel: I left school at 16 to start my first business and have worked for myself ever since, mostly in construction. While running one of these companies, my now business partner and I decided to build our own workforce management software (SINC) because we could not find a solution that we liked. We used that system ourselves for a few months internally and then sold that business to focus on SINC full time.
How does the SINC Workforce innovate?
Sam Dolbel: By listing to our target customers and focusing not on feature requests but the underlying problems behind them. One example of that was we were getting a lot of requests to be able to send a notification to the whole team through the app, but instead, we spent the 2nd quarter of 2020 building in a “blue-collar Slack” chat system that we plan to add voice calls to in the mid-term.
Our philosophy is to take complex business software and deliver it in a simplified way. Your average small business can just pick up and intuitively make their way through the product without too much need for customer support.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Sam Dolbel: We have a large exposure to the US SME market, and our clients have certainly been affected by the pandemic. We have found that SINC is such an integral part of our clients’ day-to-day business operations that it is last on the chopping block when it comes to reducing costs. We have been lucky enough to have grown our revenue by 350% in 2020, with over 5000 companies using the system daily.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Sam Dolbel: While SINC is a distributed organization, we have half the team working from one central office. In February, we decided to move everyone from that team home, and this came with its own set of challenges, especially when it came to onboarding new engineers.
I think moving to a work from home model really showed us who was productive and who was not, and we do have a couple of team members who are no longer with us but overall, productivity was stable. We were able to keep pushing out features for our users and continue around the clock support.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and SINC Workforce in the future?
Sam Dolbel: I think we all have this feeling of uncertainty around what the future holds, which obviously comes with a lot of stress and anxiety. I try to stay as disconnected from the pandemic as possible and do everything I can in my power to decrease the chances of a negative outcome in the case my family or I contract the virus, such as moving to a plant-based diet and increasing our daily exercise.
SINC as a company is now moving out of that risky start-up phase and into a post-product-market-fit mode. We have found scalable growth channels that we can reliably allocate add dollars to, and the knowledge is spread throughout the company and not just sitting with the founders. I expect 2021 to big a big year for growth with business confidence returning and small business entrepreneurs around the world who may have been in industries like hospitality pivoting into new ventures that fit in this new post-Covid world.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Sam Dolbel: It depends on what the definition of a competitor is. There are dozens if not hundreds of time tracking solutions out there, but time and attendance is just one aspect of what we do. We are feature agnostic because if enough people have pain in their business that we can solve with software, we will consider it.
Our approach is super simple and effective. We just take the painful tasks of running a business and solve them with simple, affordable software that is low touch and self-service.
Your final thoughts?
Sam Dolbel: Covid looks to have propelled us a decade into the future in terms of how we live our lives. Entrepreneurs need to think about their companies in terms of creating value for their customers that is an order of magnitude more than what they are charging if they want to stay relevant.