Brisbane startup Tanda says customers are the best investors

- April 15, 2015 3 MIN READ

Silicon Valley has glamorised capital raising to a point where the amount of money raised factors into how we measure a startup’s success. The greater the cash injection, the better the startup must be; the more likely they are going to be successful. But there are many startups that never raised a cent, are in no debt to investors, have full equity in their business, and are still managing to grow fast. These startups, for some reason, tend to fall under the radar. One such local startup is Tanda.

Founded in 2013 by Brisbane entrepreneurs Alex Ghiculescu, Jake Phillpot, Josh Cameron, and Tasmin Trezise, Tanda automates and systemises the process of tracking employee attendance. The founders realised that, although we’re quickly diverging into a digital world, many businesses were yet to eliminate paper timesheets once and for all.

Ghiculescu told Startup Daily previously that, prior to starting Tanda, they were running an organisation that had several commercial outlets, and over 100 staff spread across two sites. Every quarter, they would receive a report with staff costs and roster compliance which was “nuts”. Part of it was human error and part of it was probably employees fudging their hours. Either way, a startup-style intervention was needed.

In March, Tanda celebrated 1 million employee check-ins across its hundreds of customers. In case you were wondering how they celebrated this milestone, Phillpot went water-skating while processing payroll on a tablet using the Tanda app.

Tanda has users all over the country including Adelaide and Alice Springs, although Queensland and Victoria are the dominant markets. There are also few dozen overseas clients. Ghiculescu says the great thing about Tanda is that it isn’t exclusive to any one industry; the technology is highly scalable because it’s been built to fit with any business.

“We’ve got franchise clients like Red Rooster, all the way through to boutique shopfronts and manufacturing companies. At the moment our client base headcount stands at over a few hundred, but this number might be outdated by time you publish this. That’s how fast we seem to be growing,” said Ghiculescu.

“Most of our clientele still remain national. We’re working on picking a few strategic markets now to change that.”

Tanda costs $1 per employee per week and $25 per location per week. This includes a free time clock for each location, with its own 4G internet connection, supplied and maintained by Tanda. Let’s make a major underestimation, and say there are 100 subscribing companies with 25 employees in 1 location each. That would mean revenues of $5,000 per month. However, Red Rooster has multiple locations and manufacturing companies tend to have more than 25 employees. Also, Tanda has far more than 100 subscribers.

It’s worth noting that Tanda won the QUT Bluebox Innovation Challenge in October last year and was awarded $60,000. It also won Brisbane’s Award for High-Growth Startup at the Lord Mayor’s Business Awards last year. This has helped the startup speed up the launch of new features like ‘Real Wage Cost’, which shows business owners their total staff costs, including superannuation, workcover, leave, and accruals, as well as the Unavailability App that allows employees to opt out of days or times they can’t work and avoid roster dramas.

However, the startup was cashflow positive before it received any cash awards. Ghiculescu said “our customers are our best investors, and it’s really them that drives the product. I think our unique brand of customer recognition is what helps us stand out and drive our product to its full potential.”

Tanda has doubled its team in the last three months; now there’s more than two dozen staff working across multiple departments. Obviously, the founders outgrew their bedrooms and their first office in Henra, and moved into an office in Fortitude Valley in the heart of Brisbane. But the transition hasn’t been easy.

“The transition to our new office in Fortitude Valley wasn’t an easy feat. An office doesn’t just form itself, and there’s always unforeseen issues. But I love watching the team tackle problems together, and bounce off each other’s ideas,” said Ghiculescu.

In regards to the company’s success, Ghiculescu said the best way to comprehend it is by looking at a ‘before’ photo and an ‘after’ photo.

“You’d see it’s not just four guys working out of home. It’s now a full staff of friendly collaborators each with their own specific roles. In the After photo our office is open, bright, full of glass windows and phones ringing off the hook … I’m just incredibly proud of the whole team and how far we’ve come,” said Ghiculescu.

The accidental piece of advice for startup teams here is to actually take the time to look back at where you started. Sometimes you’re looking far ahead and getting frustrated at the distance between where you are now and where you want to be. Celebrate the progress you’ve made, and then carry on.

Featured image: Tanda team. Source: Provided.