— You've mentioned $6 000 in the first months, and what was the average check?
— Oh, I think the average seat count was probably three people, so approximately 30 dollars per user per company per month.
We had thousands of companies that were using us for free. And the fear was that we were going to lose all of them. I would suggest that if you're going to build a product now, tell people "Pay me a dollar and I will give you free Beta to access for the next six months as an example." Just whatever the minimum amount of money, but they must open up their wallet. You'll get that feedback, and you'll get people that will stop using it. Just do whatever you need to do to be able to trigger the hate mail.
That's another thing that we do inside of the company as well (for anyone that uses TimeDoctor, I apologize for this), we will remove features randomly from the software simply to measure how many people send us hate mail in support. We used to have a project management feature inside of TimeDoctor, and we didn't remove this feature, but we removed access on our toolbar for that feature, we just deleted that link on our UI, and we measured how many people would send us really angry letters saying, "Hey, what happened to this feature?" And we got 6 emails out of 6 000 clients. So, we realized this was not something that we should invest more energy into.
If you ask someone for a feature edition, everyone will say, yes, they want it. If I said, I would like to add a purple elephant icon optimizer in the top left-hand corner of my UI. People will say, "Oh, that sounds good." But how many people are willing to pay for it? And how many people are going to use it effectively to either expand your revenue or reduce your churn rate? That's what you need to focus on. So randomly removing those features and getting that emotional state from people saying, "Why did you take this feature? I was using it every day!" is absolutely critical, in my opinion.
— Well, it's exciting!
I want to move to your team. And as I see on your LinkedIn page, the TimeDoctor team is worldwide: from the Philippines, India, United States, Canada, Argentina, Canada, Nigeria, Australia, Colombia, Pakistan, Melbourne, Australia. Why do you hire globally? How do you manage it?
— Very, very carefully:)
We're a remote-first company, and we have remote-first work philosophy. We believe that talent shouldn't necessarily be connected to a particular geographic area. That's our generalized thesis in terms of managing talent realistically.
If you have one to two hours of overlap time to communicate synchronously, you can work with anyone, anywhere. You need to be able to take all of your company's processes and digitize them and put them up on some type of cloud service to allow all of your employees to have access to that information effectively. So, that they can manage themselves as opposed to you managing them.
A fantastic example is GitLab. GitLab has all of their processes in their company online and for free. And you can just do your own repo of that document (Handbook) and edit it for your purposes and use it.
So, those are two critical parts: сommunication & documentation. If you've got those, then you can manage teams without any problem.
— It's interesting that you hire in low-income regions like Colombia, Pakistan or India, and high-income regions. How do you pay? Do you pay equally or you just pay a salary, which is good for this area?
— We set the salary, and we don't set the geography. As an example, let's say that we have $70 000 to pay for a developer. Well, then we just look everywhere. We probably wouldn't be able to afford San Francisco or New York, but we would be able to afford the Midwest United States, parts of Canada, a big part of Europe, Africa, Asia. And then we just say anyone that wants to apply from those locations can and we just go through the process.
It's interesting when you don't bias yourself by location; the tunnel almost always ends up not being located in the places you think.
And we have employees inside the company that are paid hundreds of thousands of dollars per year because that was the requirement we had and we couldn't find that talent for a lower price point. And then we have people that are paid tens of thousands of dollars per year because that was the most effective price for us to accomplish the task.
Just recently, Facebook announced they would lower the salaries of remote workers that leave San Francisco. And I think this is such a huge opportunity for developers that are not located in San Francisco or New York. We're going to start to see the disconnection of salary with geography, which I think is a bad correlation, because it has no impact on whether or not you can do the job effectively.
Our product manager is located in Canada; we have a whole bunch of people in Kyiv, Ukraine, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Turkey, just everywhere on planet Earth. We have an office in Egypt. The north of Egypt, next to Alexandria, is a perfect location for fantastic developers.