Firmology’s Meet & Greet series takes an inside look at the technology available to small business owners and startup entrepreneurs, straight from the founders who built them.
Tell us about yourself and your background.
I’m a father, an employer, and a designer who has cofounded three companies in Chicago: We Are Mammoth, DoneDone, and Kin. I grew up in music, fell in love, moved to Germany, found programming, and ever since then I’ve been entrenched in software and the problems it solves (and creates!) for companies big and small.
What does your company do and what problem does it solve for businesses?
Kin is a beautiful, cloud-based application that helps small companies manage new hire onboarding, employee data and files, and company time-off.
For founders, it frees up time to focus on products and services. For employees, it provides transparency and a sense of confidence in the company their employer is building.
How did you come up with the idea for your company?
At We Are Mammoth, our software consulting business, we didn’t do a good job onboarding our new hires. So we improved that process and, needless to say, it made a dramatic improvement on our team’s productivity.
More important though, was that our new hires had a profoundly better experience getting started. They’d walk into the office on day one with paperwork complete, computer/phone/network ready to go, aware of who their new team is, and what to expect in their first days. That caused an a-ha moment for us, which sparked the idea to share what we’d learned with other small companies.
What makes your company different from your competitors?
We focus on employee experience above all else. That means we build fewer features but better UI. We spend less time shooting upstream at big markets, and more time working with companies our size with similar principles and values. I like to think that we’re workplace software for the people by the people.
What are the most important considerations businesses should have when choosing technology to help them power their business?
First, good technology is invisible. What I mean by that is that a tool shouldn’t get in the way of humans doing their thing. So, when we evaluate whether a technology fits into our workplace, we have to consider the human impact it’ll have. Is it adding a layer of opaqueness between people who are just trying to work productively? Or is it bringing us closer together to solve problems and communicate better? Technology should make us better coworkers.
Second, beware the shallow promises of marketing. In the B2B world, software isn’t always the solution, it’s just the medium. Always consider the team and values of the company building a product and how you feel about them. Include those insights in your decision making process. That sounds quaint and old-fashioned, but don’t let consumerism get the best of you … your team, data security, and productivity will suffer.
What other companies or entrepreneurs within the technology space do you admire and think businesses should know about?
I’m really digging the product, team, and insights of Intercom.io. They’re doing an awesome job with their product and education. I also dig the teams at Zapier and GrooveHQ for the transparency and value they provide to the community. They share the stuff the rest of us are always too protective or self-conscious to discuss in the open.
Anything else Firmology readers and business owners should know?
The economy is stabilizing, and so is the jobs market. That means competition for talent is getting even hotter. Startups and entrenched entrepreneurs: remember that it’s easy for talented folks to uproot and switch jobs, so build a good company to work at. Give your team room to breathe, grow, and contribute. That all starts with great workplace operations.
Firmology Readers: Let’s hear your thoughts!
1) Have a question or comment about Kin? Drop Craig a note in the comments below.
2) Who would you like to see on Firmology’s Meet & Greet series? Are there other questions we should be asking? Are any of the questions above unclear or could be asked in a better way? Let us know in the comments below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org