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One Decision Changed the Path of RotaGeek, a Growing Start Up

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Written by Alex Holderness

July 12, 2016

Just two years ago Nick Mann was working as a Solutions Architect in the travel industry.

He now leads a team of 15 people.

His start-up is RotaGeek, at its core streamlines staff scheduling – using data to generate staff schedules that matches staff with customer demand.

Nick traces the change back to one key point in 2013. The founding team began work on RotaGeek in early 2009 with a focus on the UK healthcare sector. It was a tough slog for Nick and Chris McCullough, who was working as a doctor at the time whilst trying to build, maintain and sell cloud software into the NHS. “We wanted to make a real difference to staff in the NHS, but the appetite for working with small business was not there” he explains.

By 2013 and now living in Melbourne, Nick had begun to receive enquiries from retailers. Sensing an opportunity Nick and Chris decided it was time to chat options. If they were to succeed, they would need to take everything they had learnt in the previous 4 years and rebuild the project again from scratch.

The Melbourne Rotageek team with Nick (Centre)

“Whether we were brave or stupid, we went for it” explains Nick. That chat changed the whole direction of the company.

By early 2014 Nick has built the initial product and acquired their first two customers.

Around the same time, a chance conversation with a neighbour led to the duo being introduced to Wayra, the Telefonica start up accelerator in London. One month and three pitches later, the team won a place on the prestigious programme.

Within 24 hours, the team had secured a proof of concept trial with the UK telecoms giant O2.

“It was a big moment for us,” says Nick. “Until that day, we’d been working on small businesses. We were now looking at an organisation with nearly 3,000 staff..

The pilot was successful, and a contract quickly followed. RotaGeek has delivered big results for O2. Within the first year, using data from 270 O2 retail stores to better match 6,300 staff hours to when and where people were most needed, the team delivered a staggering £2.5 million in savings.

“They are a great company to work with” says Nick, “And the project shows the amazing results that can be achieved when big businesses work with small start ups”.

Success has continued for the RotaGeek team who have won multiple awards, incluiding being one of the 14 Tech City News Elevator Pitch winners in 2015 from an entry pool of thousands.

The pair have also raised nearly $1M to allow them to expand the team.

Scaling Out

The team has grown in London and Melbourne. London, acting as a base for operations and finance, also soon to be home to the sales team. Melbourne hosts the tech side of the business with Nick now taking a leadership role with the technical team as CTO.

The UK team with Co Founder Chris (Centre)

The transition from sole-coder to team leader was a quick one for Nick.

“It’s a weird feeling handing your code over to the development team” he explains “We didn’t expect it to move so quickly.

“Growing the development team was a tough adjustment. I deliberately hired people better than me which means that my work quickly got refined and improved. It’s great to see such a small team achieving so much.”

RotaGeek involve the team in business decisions. “I like the involvement in investor meetings and making business decisions together.”

“From coding to leading was a quick transition. I enjoy it, but it’s different!

Accelerating Growth

The business has grown 4-fold year on year, but has big plans for the year ahead.

The guys are really excited about the automated side of scheduling, and looking at how they can build algorithms that save costs or improve working preferences.

“It’s how we want to set ourselves apart from the competition – being super smart with automation and creating an algorithm.” He explains.

To help in the quest, the team have an in-house data scientist who has a Ph.D. in scheduling.

“It’s going to be a big three months from here; we’ve three large accounts that will fuel our growth. The focus is on getting the big trials underway and making them perfectly.

The team will also be bringing more sales people into the business and building the mobile app having just brought a mobile dev in-house.

“Our focus is building out our sales capacity now. Our product is there and scalable, and we’re going through an investment round – then it’s a big push for growth.

“I just want to see us get out there as a brand now. We have a great product that we know can deliver huge savings. We are on our way to being the number one scheduling company.”

Each week we share fresh insights on people, tech and culture in Australia. Follow the stories or start interviewing with 100+ of the most innovative Australian employers today. 

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Written by Alex Holderness

July 12, 2016

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