First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Zerzar Bukhari: We are doing well – lucky enough not to be impacted by the virus or the economic downturn, so we are very grateful for that. Our heart goes out to everyone that has been affected.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Zynq
Zerzar Bukhari: My co-founder and I both worked at Google building enterprise products and found that the physical office was still being managed with Excel sheets and mental maps despite all the software innovation. As remote work grew in popularity, it seemed inevitable that more and more employees would opt for a hybrid work from home/office model. It would become impossible to manage that complexity without software. Pretty soon, we quit our jobs, started building the company, went through Y Combinator, and onboarded some great companies like the LA Dodgers & MessageBird. Now we are more excited than ever to change how people work – giving them the tools to enable a flexible work environment where they can decide how to be most productive.
How does Zynq innovate?
Zerzar Bukhari: The two choices we have at any moment are: innovate or die. As an early-stage company growing during the pandemic, the market is changing even faster than usual, and we must use those changes as a tailwind to grow faster than incumbents if we want a chance at changing the world. Every day we reconsider the data we get from calls with existing customers, new customers, and market trends and decide whether what we are working on now still makes sense. We probably do mini-directional changes multiple times every week. Without this culture, we’d be dead months ago. This mentality has allowed us to create the exact features our customers need desperately – whether its automated contact tracing (with no hardware!), automated capacity management, or team-proximity based seating.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Zerzar Bukhari: When COVID first hit, we were very scared that the physical office would not exist for the foreseeable future. We lost a lot of customers and prospects, and things were not looking good. However, as weeks passed, it became obvious that a fully remote model would not be the answer for most companies, and those offices would certainly come back but differently than before. What looked like a curse ended up being a blessing in disguise. Because of the pandemic, many companies are now considering flexible offices as a core part of their culture from now on, so we are getting customers that would have never even given us a call if it were not for these unprecedented times.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Zerzar Bukhari: We did – we shut down products, chose to lose revenue over customers, and almost pivoted away entirely from this idea. That said, we don’t regret any of it. The best thing you can do as a founder is to listen to the market and change accordingly. Don’t give up on your dream, but be flexible about how you’ll get there. If we had not been listening to the market, we wouldn’t have been able to tailor the product to make it successful during the pandemic. If we were not convinced this was the future, we would have walked away from this idea without giving it a fair shot.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and Zynq in the future?
Zerzar Bukhari: Stress and anxiety is a necessary part of being a founder. The best thing you can do for yourself and your team is to make sure your culture is focused on balance. We like to encourage everyone on our team to invest their time in their personal life whenever possible, as it’s easy to let a startup consume all of your time if you are not careful. We’re trying to build this company for the long term, which doesn’t happen if you burn out in the first few months.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
We operate across multiple market segments – you could say we are carving out a new software segment, so we have many competitors on different fronts. Companies that are building COVID-specific office software are competitors, whereas real estate management SaaS tools are on the other side of the spectrum. We are the only tool on the market that gives you end-to-end utilization & management of your physical space, whether you work in facilities or HR. There is nothing quite like what we are building, and it will only become more important as the world shifts to an on-demand office.
Your final thoughts
Zerzar Bukhari: We’re really excited to pioneer the new normal of flexible, on-demand office spaces. If you or your company is considering this, please contact us, and we’d love to help you!
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