Welcome to the third post in this series of entrepreneur interviews, where successful tech company founders will be sharing their experiences, guidance, and lessons learned.
The legendary Herb Kelleher, founder of Southwest Airlines, famously stated, “Your employees come first…If the employees come first, then they’re happy. A motivated employee treats the customer well. The customer is happy so they keep coming back, which pleases the shareholders.”
Many of today’s entrepreneurs got their start in the working world as hourly employees in the service industry. This entrepreneur used that experience to launch a business that’s improving operations for big companies by addressing a common frustration of their front-line, hourly workers.
Atif Siddiqi, founder and CEO at Branch, clearly took Kelleher’s message to heart in launching his company. Here’s his story.
Branch is the only mobile-first technology that provides schedule and financial flexibility for hourly employees. Branch addresses the needs of the deskless workforce — a 2.7 billion-person strong portion of the global working population that makes up about 80% of the overall workforce.
Empowering large enterprises with the ability to attract and retain the best hourly talent, our configurable platform offers a seamless way to significantly reduce employee absenteeism, staffing costs, and management time.
Year founded: 2015
Funding rounds: $10.4 Series A
Current size: 50+ employees
Webbiquity: What inspired you to work on a solution to this particular problem?
Atif Siddiqi: The vast majority of the workforce is hourly and despite the number of new technologies, remain in very traditional, inefficient processes. From my own experience in working retail, I had to switch shifts manually through paper schedules; and nearly a decade later, I realized retail workers were still using these same paper-heavy, older tools to manage shifts.
Especially at large companies with thousands hourly workers, there’s even less flexibility with scheduling changes and management communication, which can lead to employee absenteeism and turnover. We started Branch as an app to address communication inefficiencies and have since become a holistic platform for the hourly workforce.
Branch is featured in:
Webbiquity: What were the most effective channels or methods for you to get the word out to prospective customers when you first launched your product?
Atif Siddiqi: Our initial organic users played an instrumental role in spreading the word. They were and continue to be great advocates of the app. They were able to spread the word throughout their networks so that we could establish a strong base of users across a number of well-known companies.
Showing how much traction the app was gaining among employees organically helped us start conversations and make inroads with a range of retailers.
Webbiquity: Finish this sentence: “Knowing what I know now, if I were starting over today, what I would do differently is…”
Atif Siddiqi: I actually don’t think we’d do anything differently, because one of the things that allowed us to grow is making mistakes. Persistence is a core value of our company culture, so we encourage employees to not fear failure but respond quickly to it.
Webbiquity: What’s the most important advice you could offer to an entrepreneur starting out today?
Atif Siddiqi: Get out and talk to customers. You can plan and research all day, but those activities are pretty insular and won’t necessarily get you the insights you need to grow. Some of our most important company decisions have stemmed from direct conversations with hourly workers and enterprise executives.