Deputy: Nathan Brumby Q&A

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by Denis Semchenko
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First up, can you tell us about yourself, your background and your role as Deputy CEO, Nathan?

For as long as I can remember, my career has been defined by the software industry. I have always had a passion for technology, especially software applications that enhance the human experience, simplify arduous processes and improve people’s lives. Prior to joining Deputy earlier this year, I have held CXO roles for public and private companies – most notably as the Head of Product Strategy and Management for EMC’s Management Software business. In my current role as CEO, I am charged with helping take what is a revolutionary product to a marketplace that has for too long been restricted to choosing business solutions which are Band-Aid fixes, not problem solvers.

We are currently in the process of releasing a major update to our existing solution – an update that will well and truly make the lives of many thousands of business owners and managers much easier and without the overheads.

How did the idea of Deputy appear in the first place?

In previous life, the two co-founders of Deputy worked together for Australia’s largest independent aviation ground handling business. During this time, they realised there had to be a better way to manage a decentralised workforce in terms of timely communications, creating and sharing work schedules and doing timesheets amongst other things.

Fast forward to Deputy today – which exists to show that businesses can be excelled and simplified through compelling connectivity, simplified business processes and integration with existing systems such as payroll.

How many people do Deputy currently employ?

Deputy has a full-time staff list of 17 people. We are proud of the fact that we are Australian-owned and operated and are pleased to be able to say that all staff work out of our head office in Waterloo in Sydney. Because we use Deputy ourselves, we have no problem with the team working off-site if they need to.

As one of the key figures at Deputy, what does your average working day normally involve?

For me, a day at Deputy covers everything from what is happening in the technology market related to Deputy to overseeing product strategy, what we are currently building, our branding and marketing plans and sales activity through to ensuring we have a very content customer base.

We pride ourselves as a company on being very agile, highly communicative (utilising Deputy internally) and pushing the boundaries on what is possible. As our CTO proudly states, if it is within the laws of physics, we will make it happen.

How long did it take to develop the Deputy iPhone/iPad app?

The development of the app was a labour of love, truth be told. Everyone in the office was super-eager to see it done and help develop it. Overall, from spec phase through to development and UI, the process took about two months.

What do you think is Deputy’s key difference from scheduling apps like Teux Deux?

Teux Deux has a pretty slick interface and works really nicely for people looking to create easy-to-use to-do lists. We, however, go beyond this. Not only can managers and owners create to do lists – we call them tasks – but we allow them to create shift schedules (rosters to some) for their teams, publish these to staff via the app, communicate changes via our intuitive comments wall and allow staff to check in and out of work on their mobile device or via a device at work.

What we are very proud of is the geolocation feature which lets managers see where staff are checking in from – it really helps eliminate time theft, which owners love – and our integration of timesheet data straight into various payroll platforms.

I understand Deputy have been operating for three years, but have something exciting coming up. Can you tell us about it?

Quite simply, we are launching Deputy v.2. This release is going to make everything else in the market seem old and clunky by comparison. After looking at how our clients used the product, we have taken all the good points out of our previous iteration and improved the interface, enhanced the product so that it is easier to use, added the geolocation feature and developed a mobile browser version as well.

But perhaps most excitingly, we are releasing most of the product to the market for free. This will allow companies to schedule shifts for all their employees across all their sites, manage communications, set tasks for individuals, monitor employee performance in terms of what tasks are completed, how punctual they are and have the information available to them from anywhere, anytime. No longer must they be on-site to get the visibility they need to make business operate smoothly – now the information is available to them. That’s the beauty of the cloud!

Are there currently any plans for expansion into other cities/overseas?

We recognise that Deputy has great application for any decentralised business where shift work is predominant. America has well-documented reports of a movement to more part-time and shift work, so this is a market we are actively investigating. We already have a number of clients overseas, but active expansion is on the cards.

In your opinion, what has been the Australian startup success story of 2012?

I think every startup’s success story is a long time in the making. By far, the benchmark in Australia is Atlassian. Great revenue, great geographical reach, great funders and really great products and management team. To see more examples of this would be good news for Australia.

What’s your long-term vision for Deputy?

We believe a better solution exists for business. Many aspects of business have evolved with technology, but the performance management, communication and time-rostering equation have largely been neglected. We are looking to redefine this aspect of business and are looking to supply a solution that becomes the norm, not the exception.

And lastly, do you have any words of advice for young Australian startups with exciting ideas?

Never believe you have the best product or that someone else has not thought of it. In today’s world, conceiving, designing and delivering a product is relatively easy and inexpensive. The size of your addressable market will decide your possible growth, but execution will decide any growth at all.

Wise words indeed – thanks Nathan!

by Denis Semchenko
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