By: Dan Teran
When we started building Managed by Q in early 2014, we had a vision to build the operating system for offices. Over the years, we’ve been fortunate to partner with some of the hardest working and most innovative workplace teams out there, and have had the privilege of learning from them and building products and services to make their lives easier.
Four years later, our vision hasn’t changed. We’re focused on solving the same problem for the same user, although we have a lot more users today, and I think they’d tell you we’re doing a much better job today than those first few weeks after launch.
Building something great takes time, focus, and persistence, and doing things you’re proud of is worth the wait. It’s easy to forget that Amazon sold nothing but books in its first four years, and that it didn’t enter cloud computing with AWS until year 11. Uber didn’t make its first food delivery until year five.
Halfway through our fourth full year of operations, we are fortunate to count both Amazon and Uber as clients. However, it’s much easier to proclaim yourself the platform for something than to build a platform for something. As we continue our work to build the first platform specific to workplace teams, we have to remind ourselves that realizing a big vision means a lot of small steps. Last year, that meant completing 169 customer interviews, deploying to production over 5,000 times, and writing 42 product launch announcements. I’m excited to share some of the strides we made at Q in 2018.
1. Expanding our Network
In the beginning of 2016, we launched our services marketplace in beta, forging partnerships with vetted third party vendors to help office teams accomplish more projects in their workplace. Today, we have a network of thousands of commercial vendors across the country that provide hundreds of services.
In preparing to build our marketplace, I met with Jeff Jordan at A16Z years ago and asked him what metrics he paid attention to in marketplace businesses. He pointed to some charts on the wall of his results at eBay and OpenTable and said “a marketplace is either on fire or it’s dead.” I never got a definition of what “on fire” means, but we’ve got a few charts of our own (with a lot fewer zeros). As we continue to invest in onboarding the best service providers and forming lasting relationships with them, we’ve paid close attention to Gross Merchandise Volume, the total value of merchandise sold over a given period of time.
Managed by Q’s Partner Network is comprised of hundreds of locally owned small businesses. Among them, 40% have fewer than 10 employees, while more than 20% are woman-, veteran-, or minority-owned businesses. While we take pride in empowering a diverse community of entrepreneurs, our partners take pride in delivering a great experience to our shared clients, creating meaningful jobs for their employees. Our top 5 partners have done over $1M in business on our platform, and more than 30 partners will earn over $100,000 on the Managed by Q platform in 2018 alone.
One of my favorite partner stories is that of Brandi Poulsen. Brandi started her career with Managed by Q as our first female Maintenance Operator for Q Services in Los Angeles. She told us that her goal was to eventually leave Q Services to start her own business, and we supported her to do so. Today she has celebrated the one-year anniversary of FIXED, a residential and commercial repair and maintenance service company, where she is the Founder and CEO. FIXED has already served hundreds of clients on our platform, and Brandi is able to pursue her dream of running her own business.
We are proud to call these businesses our partners, and work hard to earn their trust and respect. Fortunately, our partners like us too! They’ve given us a net promoter score of 76, considered excellent in any industry. By building a thriving partner network, we’re able to not only grow our marketplace, but deliver more workplace solutions to our clients.
2. More Than Just Cleaning
We also undertook initiatives this year to deliver value to our clients outside of our initial facilities management product. We partnered with top staffing agencies to meet our client’s administrative staffing needs, while also acquiring our way into project management for design, build, and relocation projects.
In building a workplace staffing business, we are able to give our clients access to the best candidates from the biggest talent pool possible for short or long term administrative staffing needs, eliminating the need for exclusive contracts with a single agency. The results have been incredible—we’ve staffed over 500 office managers, receptionists, facility managers, and other administrative professionals at amazing companies like Zendesk, Asana, and TheSkimm.
When we realized our clients needed more than vendors to handle complex projects like major office relocations, design, or office renovations, we acquired NVS to enhance our project management capabilities. In our first year of project management operations, we executed dozens of projects, helping companies like Justworks and Glossier build new headquarters, and companies like Bark & Co and Splice expand their workplace operations nationally. Along the way we built a basketball court, a professional music studio, and the most dog friendly offices on earth (or maybe people friendly dog parks).
Rather than stay in our comfort zone of facilities services, we’ve taken our “operating system for offices” vision seriously and expanded our offerings to support our clients in realizing a holistic workplace vision that works for them.
3. Connecting the Whole Office
What we knew, and what was underscored through this year’s research, is that workplace teams are unique. They sit at the intersection of internal employee requests and external vendor management and they rely heavily on collaboration to get their jobs done—yet there is no collaboration tool specifically for them. At least there wasn’t before Q.
Our team has built a lot of features that support vendor collaboration, and we will continue to do so. However, the importance of internal communication hadn’t been addressed until we acquired Hivy in 2017—a task management platform to help office teams keep track of employee requests.
Since then, we’ve seen the weekly ticket volume on Hivy grow by 500%. The Hivy task management platform is used on every continent but Antarctica, and we are thrilled to power the global workplace operations of companies like Slack, Flexport, Andela, Artsy and more. Nothing makes us happier than being a small part of the success of companies with such amazing and ambitious missions.
Our platform now reaches over 30,000 employees in our clients workplaces through Hivy, which integrates directly with Slack, which is a critical part of many of our clients workflow. Pauline Tordeur (Founder of Hivy) represented Q on the mainstage at the Slack Frontiers conference in London. Our task management capabilities turn employees into the eyes and ears of the workplace team, and helps them get their issues resolved in record time on our platform.
4. Getting Sh*t Done
But understanding problems in the office isn’t enough—they also need to be solved efficiently. One major learning in 2018 was that there really isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to workplace problem solving, so we invested in building a flexible service request flow to accommodate our clients' unique needs.
Instant booking allows Managed by Q to instantly dispatch requests for urgent needs to nearby vendors for the most common office needs—like changing a tube light bulb, assembling a desk, or the dreaded overflowing toilet. By leveraging data from thousands of jobs to predict the price up front, and the density of our partner network to dispatch the job to a nearby, available technician, we’re getting sh*t done fast. The median time for instant booking service confirmation is 21 minutes, with over 90% confirmed within 2 hours.
Fortunately for our clients, the job is not all firefighting. Many projects require thoughtful vendor evaluation, multiple options, and references from other facilities professionals—like installing a security system, selecting a managed IT provider, or setting up nightly cleaning. For these more complex projects, we’ve built a different set of tools to evaluate multiple vendors, allow for multiple service options from each vendor, collect thousands of expert reviews to help our clients make the right call, and easily get approval from internal stakeholders.
Whether a project is instantly booked or requires multiple quotes, we pride ourselves on making intelligent matches to the best fit vendor for the job. We’re leveraging the data from our partner network to inform our matchmaking logic and instant booking dispatching to continuously improve the quality of the matches we make for our clients.
5. Building Relationships
We learned that making good matches matters, because relationships matter. Across thousands of reviews this past year, our clients told us that 93% of the time they would hire their vendor again, so we’re building the tools that make it easy for teams to collaborate with their preferred vendors.
In 2018 we invested heavily in multi-party messaging—allowing internal workplace teams to collaborate seamlessly with all of their external vendors. Rather than relying on email, text message, or phone calls, office teams can do it all from their desk, and there are no more communication breakdowns. And of course, we appreciate a good emoji for a job well done.
The best vendors become an extension of their clients' workplace teams, so we’re building tools to empower them too. Today, our Partner Dashboard serves as the central hub for all of their business conducted with Q—they can review new requests, bid on new jobs, message with their existing clients, and manage all of their invoices and payments. By building great tools for our partners we’re making it easy for them to focus on delivering great service to Q clients.
6. The Human Side of Tech
Because we know that client experience is more than just a pretty interface, under the hood we are monitoring hundreds of thousands of conversations with natural language processing models that alert our client experience team should a client or partner need a helping hand.
When clients turn to Q for support via chat, they’re getting responses (from a human) in under two minutes and their issues resolved in less than one business day. 98% of our CX interactions are rated :star-struck: or :smiley:.
We think the human centered workplace is a trend to watch in 2019, so we’re building technology to elevate the human experience through Q.
One more thing...
I’m excited to share that earlier this year we completed our Series C financing to total over $55M in new investment, to continue to focus on our growth and product development.
I am grateful to our long term capital partners RRE and Google Ventures for their continued support, and excited to welcome new investors DivCo West and Oxford Properties who bring not only capital, but deep industry expertise to the table. I’m also grateful to some of our earliest investors, like Scott Belsky and David Stern, who have continued to bet on our ambitious vision in this financing.
Scott Silverberg will join our Board as an Observer, bringing a wealth of experience from his career at Brookfield, Tishman Speyer, and Nippon Life prior to joining Oxford Properties.
Also joining our board as an Independent Director is Thilo Semmelbauer, who has a rare combination of experience both at public companies and high growth startups, including Weight Watchers and Shutterstock, where he served as Chief Operating Officer and President at each.
We couldn’t be more excited for what lies ahead. To all of our clients, partners, operators and investors - thank you for your continued support, the best is yet to come.