What does it take to start a successful business?
Joel Beverley is one of the co-founders of RotaCloud. The two other co-founders are David Brandon and James Lintern.
Companies from 4 to 200+ employees use RotaCloud, to manage their workforce.
The original idea for RotaCloud came from the founders’ own experiences working with staff rotas.
RotaCloud is based in Yorkshire, UK.
In the following interview will cover a variety of topics from starting, marketing, and working with challenges in the business.
Success Harbor: What is your business background?
Joel Beverley: Before RotaCloud I had little in the way of business experience. Fresh from graduating from Durham University (UK) after studying law for three years, I decided that working in the legal industry wasn’t for me. I always wanted to work for myself, and it wasn’t too long before the opportunity to start my own company presented itself.
Success Harbor: How did the three co-founders meet?
Joel Beverley: The three of us have been friends since our school days. After finishing school, we each went our separate ways; James and I to university with David starting his own successful web development business. We kept in touch during that period, and when James and I finished our studies, the three of us started sharing a house together. Over the years we had always talked about starting a business together but had never quite had the idea to make it happen, until RotaCloud came along.
Success Harbor: What were the greatest challenges starting RotaCloud?
Joel Beverley: Starting out our biggest issues were planning and time-management.
When we first had the idea, we naively jumped in two footed without a properly formulated business plan.
A couple of months down the line things got tricky, development of the software stagnated, and we struggled to move forward without having a clear business plan. After collectively taking some time off from the company we restarted work again in the New Year.
Refreshed and not wanting to make the same mistakes twice we knuckled down and started meticulously planning out what we were going to do, where we were going and how we were getting there. Thankfully, we haven’t looked back since.
Success Harbor: How did you validate your idea and did you learn anything surprising?
Joel Beverley: The idea for RotaCloud came from my experiences working part-time. I had encountered several issues with the staff schedule where I worked at the time and felt there must be a better way. Discussing these problems with David and James, I discovered that they too had each had similar experiences from working various part-time jobs growing up.
From pubs to care homes, dental practices to hotels we realized that the major issues caused by staff rotas were common to all. We put our heads together, and RotaCloud was born. We contacted some local businesses to sound out whether the idea was a viable solution and was simply taken aback by the positive reaction.
Success Harbor: How would a business use RotaCloud?
Joel Beverley: RotaCloud is online staff scheduling software that allows businesses of any size to build and manage their rotas online. They simply sign up through our website, add their employees and then customize their account to suit how their business operates. Once set up they can build and publish their staff schedules online for all their employees to see. Automatic email and text notifications make communicating with staff easy and ensure that everyone always knows when and where they are meant to be.
Success Harbor: How is RotaCloud differentiated in the marketplace?
Joel Beverley: There is no shortage of competition in this industry, but we’ve found that the majority of other staff scheduling platforms out there are clunky, over complicated and are frustrating to use on a day-to-day basis.
At RotaCloud we focus on keeping things straightforward, streamlined and user-friendly. We also like to work with our customers, creating and developing new features based on demand, so that the software meets our clients needs in the most efficient way possible.
Success Harbor: What marketing channels are the most effective?
Joel Beverley: For us, SEM and SEO have been very effective right from the start, and have enabled us to tap into a segment of customers who are actively searching for a solution to the problem we solve. However, there is a relatively low ceiling on the number of these types of people (because the majority of our market is not solution-aware), so we use other channels like content marketing and display advertising to increase awareness and attract people higher up in the sales funnel.
Success Harbor: What are your goals for the 12-months, and what is your strategy to get there?
Joel Beverley: Over the next twelve months we will continue to grow and evolve the software, adding and improving features to meet the demand of our clients. We have a timeline for the next 7-8 months of what we want to develop, with a series of deadlines to keep us on target. By the end of the year, we will also be looking to introduce a mobile app.
Success Harbor: What are some of your favorite books that have helped you?
Joel Beverley: Here are three that we think are essential for any budding entrepreneur:
Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity – David Allen
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion – Robert Cialdini
The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses – Eric Ries
Success Harbor: If you could train someone to be a successful entrepreneur what would be the first thing you’d teach that person?
Joel Beverley: Don’t be afraid to be wrong.