What’s your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I’m a three-time former CFO and two-time former COO. I’ve spent the last 20 years managing finance and HR in growing companies and got a front row seat to watch the way compensation for employees has changed. Candidates can Google what their appropriate salary range would be, and health insurance is an expectation (in certain sectors of the workforce). That represents about 80% of an employee’s compensation – but it’s that last 20% that companies use to really attract the best talent and retain their team. This is where employee perks live.
Having spent my career buying and implementing perks for the team, I knew the traditional approach was really expensive and had low employee engagement. I wanted to build software that would make this easy to administer, tax compliant (I was still a CFO, after all), but also really drove employee engagement up. That led me to start Compt in 2018.
Describe the process of launching the business.
I had the idea for Compt for about three years before I decided to start the company. I was watching the market shift and needed a new tool to support the needs and expectations of employees in the changing market. I waited for a few years as I thought someone would build the platform of my dreams. All my fellow HR and Finance people were asking for the same thing, after all. When no one did, I decided to start a company to build the platform because it was an urgent need and I couldn’t imagine trying to scale yet another team without a solution in place.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
We have experimented with lots of approaches in attracting customers. HR is a unique and often very misunderstood buyer. Traditional sales approaches just aren’t going to work. What we have found works the best is being a trusted partner for them so that when they are ready to implement a new solution, they are top of mind.
Retaining customers hasn’t been a challenge for us; we have 124% annual revenue retention. Not only do our customers stay with us, they also grow with us. In fact, we still have our first customer from January 2018 on the platform. If you build the right things for a team, there is no impetus for them to make a change.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
We have a tremendous tailwind in the market with the move to remote work and the need for companies to find a way to create a much more inclusive approach to employee perks. We grew about 350% in 2020 and are on track to grow by at least that amount in 2021.
We foresee a future where every employee is supported in a way that is personalized to their individual needs. We are here to support that!
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
There have been many, many learnings along the way. One of the things that I’ve found so critical is the importance of taking time to recharge. Founders frequently work insane and unsustainable hours – but that only leads to burnout. Knowing that you need to take time to recharge, and then forcing your team to do the same has helped us actually grow more quickly. The team and I are much more likely to come up with creative solutions to problems or think about new approaches when we have the mental space to spend on them rather than continually fighting fire after fire. There will always be more work to do. Taking time to go for a hike, a vacation, to stare at a wall – honestly – it all is incredibly important as you build and scale a company.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
It is such an amazing time to start a company. There are so many tools that can make a team work so much more efficiently. Now that we are committed to being fully remote, the value of some tools has grown exponentially. We love Slack, Zoom, and Kahoot. All are great, in different ways, for engaging employees, prospects, and teams.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
I’m a big fan of the Talent Code, Work Rules!, and the Challenger Sale for business books. That said – I find so much inspiration – for supporting my own team, for scaling the business, for supporting the diversity of employees across our customers – comes from reading non-business related books. Learning more about other’s perspectives is critical to building a platform that is meant to support essentially all working humans. So I try to mix in a variety of authors from Ijeoma Oluo to Keith Foskett to Colson Whitehead.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Figure out what you are great at, and find help or advisors with everything else. You can’t do everything yourself – nor are you going to be great at everything. Know your own limitations and seek advice from people who are great in those areas. And definitely make time to take a break! As hard as it can be to do that, taking some time for yourself will make you a better founder, a better partner, and a better teammate.