Praveen Kanyadi serves as Cofounder and VP Products at Groupe.io, a productivity platform that delivers real-time communication, automation and specialized apps for frontline workers in the hotel sector and in multiple other industries, as well.Follow Follow
Welcome to the Use Case Podcast with William Tincup, episode 125. This week we have storytelling about Groupe.io with Praveen Kanyadi. During this episode, Praveen and I talk about how practitioners make the business case or the use case for purchasing Groupe.io.
Praveen is an expert in all things non-desk and productivity. His passion for helping organizations and frontline workers stay connected and collaborate productively really comes through during the podcast.
Give the show a listen and please let me know what you think.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is William Tincup and you are listening to the Use Case Podcast today. We have Praveen from Groupe.io, and we’re going to be learning all about his firms and the business case, or the Use Case for how and why people buy his application. So without any further ado, Praveen, would you do us a favor and introduce both yourself and your company?
Thank you, William. First of all, thanks for having me today. So I’m Praveen Kanyadi, the co-founder of Groupe.io. Groupe.io is essentially a solution that’s specifically designed for frontline employees in organizations such as retail, hospitality, construction, manufacturing. What Groupe.io does is that it helps organization connect, engage, and motivate different employees, and also helps them leverage technology to improve productivity of these frontline workers. So essentially, the whole platform is designed specifically for this targeted audience.
What I love about this is there’s not a lot of technology that’s built for high volume. There’s a whole lot of technology in our space, HR and TA Tech that’s built for the corporate world. A lot of these are kind of blended workforces so I get that too. But, hospitality, retail, food, service, convenience stores, hourly healthcare, there’s just not as many applications to pick from as a CHRO Global Head of Talent. So I love that you’re kind of focused on that group.
And then I’m assuming over the pandemic, we learned a whole lot about that group. So there’s a lot of learning that went on there. So, first things first, why did you decide to start Groupe.io?
Back in the basement, Yammer was new in the market. There was this whole new concept of Enterprise Social Network, where organizations started to realize the importance of having social media kind of an experience for employees. We built a platform called Yap. We built a product called Context which competed with Yammer and it got acquired by Autodesk. So we actually started with a communication platform for corporate employees. During that time…
So we learned a lot about the needs of corporate employees, the likes of collaboration platforms and all of that. But what we realized was that, 80% of the workforce, so if you deployed that solution to a large retail organization with 10,000 employees, only 2000 employees were using that solution because the solution wasn’t addressing 8,000 frontline employees. So a large majority of workforce could not use the solution because it did not eat into the unique needs of these frontline employees. So that’s what we realized, that there’s a huge opportunity for a segment that’s completely, as you mentioned, it is underserved from a technology perspective. That’s where we started the journey of Groupe.io.
I love that. First of all, what part of the features and functionalities did you start with when once you identified the market it’s underserved, et cetera? Communications can be difficult, et cetera, especially things like shift change, not easy, or at least historically… What was the nucleus of where you wanted to start with a product and then build around it?
The most important aspect was onboarding these frontline employees. Most of the frontline employees do not have a corporate email address, unlike corporate employees. The other big challenge is that, there’s a very high churn. If you look at retail, hospitality, healthcare, the churn is as much as 50 to 65%.
Also, there are a lot of contingent workforce, temporary workforce, and all of that stuff. So provisioning email addresses, managing that workforce, is a huge challenge. As a result of that… And the cost of provisioning an email for frontline employees. As a result of that, it was very, very challenging to onboard them to traditional solutions, which are made for desk-based users. So the first thing that we focused was, how do we onboard these employees without requiring a corporate email address?
Yeah. So one of the things that obviously was important is being mobile friendly or mobile first.
Correct. Okay. So what we did was, we designed it in a way where we could onboard them using just their mobile number. So that was the first task, the onboarding. It had to be based on this… We all tried to make it in a way be self serve. So employees are able to scan a QR code, enter the mobile number and they’re into the network.
There’s obviously authentication, those kind of things, built in. But the whole idea was, how do you make it really frictionless and really easy and simple, straightforward for these frontline employees to onboard into this platform.
The second aspect is that, they’re not as tech-savvy as the corporate employees. So we had to make sure that the user experience had to be designed in a way which is really simple, intuitive, and matches a ZoomerMedia application, because everybody’s used to the likes of Facebook, Instagram, and all of that. So we had to bring our experience closer to that.
So there’s minimum learning curve. And third aspect is what you mentioned, which is making it modern centric, because these are non-desk workers. They do not sit in front of a computer. So we had to make sure that the design is mobile first. So these were some of the crucial aspects while designing the platform for them.
One of the things that I heard recently, which I want to get your take on, from your customers, is what’s happening in high volume. Again, when someone applies to an hourly job, let’s say it’s at McDonald’s, they’re also applying at Walmart, they’re also applying it somewhere in the mall, et cetera. So they’re applying in a lot of different things, not necessarily by industry. Sometimes they are, but more often than not, they’re just applying wherever they think they can get a job.
But what this person was telling me is that, once they’ve accepted the job, so they went through the application process, you accept them, they accept the job, half of those people are actually showing up. The other half that said yes to the job, aren’t showing up. And then once they go through onboarding, half of those people are bowing out. And again, I mean, that’s just crazy to me, but again, knowing what happens in the corporate world, that doesn’t happen as frequently and not like that. What are you seeing? What are your customers seeing?
One of the things that we’ve seen consistently is that, one of the key drivers why people want to onboard a solution like ours is to reduce churn because there’re a couple of aspects to it. The first thing is, the employees don’t feel connected and motivated because there’s hardly any communication. And communication is a very, very good aspect in being able to keep your employees motivated. And because of the reasons that we mentioned, there’s absolutely no communication.
And that is the reason why once they’re onboarded, they do not feel… In a corporate world what happens is that employee onboarding is a very involved process. You come in, there’s a training period, buddies take you out for lunch, you get assimilated to the culture, there is a lot of videos explaining what the company culture is… The whole thing you’re being hand-holded into the company.
But if you look at the frontline counterpart, because of the lack of tools and technology, you can’t provide that kind of an experience and that contributes to this churn. And also over a period of time, it’s not just the onboarding, what you see is that this high churn is also as a result of not feeling valued, not understanding their role in the larger picture of the organization. So what we’ve seen is that organizations that have done really well in terms of communication, in terms of motivating their workforce, engaging with them, they have seen a significant reduction in insurance.
I like that because it hits on two things. You said engagement, so it hits on that, but it also hits on the experience. So a candidate experience that we’re talking about on the front end, it’s communicating with them, it’s not leaving them in the dark as to where they are, it’s being supportive of them, and making sure that they really are excited about the opportunity, engaging them. And again, that doesn’t stop once they start and then they go through whatever onboarding process it is.
It’s how do you create a great experience for them? Because everyone wants to have… The irony is, it doesn’t matter where you kind of fall in society. You want to have a great experience. No one wants to have a terrible experience. So the difference between someone that makes $120,000 an hour in a salaried job, and someone that makes $12 an hour in an hourly job, they will both want to have a good experience both on the hiring side, but also on the employee side.
So I love that you brought up engagement because I wanted to get around to that anyhow, but it also brought me to experience. Let me ask you a question about customers, the folks that are using Groupe.io right now. And anonymize this, don’t tell us a company names or anything, but what’s your kind of favorite customer story right now? Of just people that are using it, you turned them on, they bought it and then boom, something happened and you’re like, “Wow, this is cool.”
Just to give an example, last month we onboarded a manufacturing company that manufactures bottles. And in the past, they had absolutely no ways of communicating with their front line employees. We talk about top-down communication, but we don’t usually talk about bottom up communication. In this specific example what happened was that we provide a piece of it. You can allow employees to give ideas on very, very specific issues. So they actually created a challenge at our own shop floor. So they had very specific ideas and suggestions on certain issues they were facing on shop floor. And what they realized was that the frontline employees were able to give them…
All those guys that were actually at the shop floor, they understand the problem very closely. And they got tons of ideas, which made a lot of sense. And these ideas were funneled back into management and they were able to take some very strategic decisions because of this. And they actually sent us an email saying that, if not for a platform like this, it would be impossible to funnel these ideas from our employees. So that is I think the power of a platform like this, because it’s not just about top-down communications by direction.
Well, what you’ve done with feedback is you’ve democratized it and said to everyone, “You’re important, your voice is important, your opinion is important, your feedback is important. We want you to feel like you’re a part of a team because you are a part of a team. And so we want your opinion.” And again, I think that lacking in a lot of different areas, but I love the fact that companies can now use Groupe.io and they can use it in a way to gather this information and then do something with it.
It isn’t just gathering it for gathering’ sake, but actually make the business better. It’s kind of a self fulfilling. So you get feedback from somebody, you change, you make that better, then you ask them for more feedback, and guess what? You’re going to get better ideas.
You going to get more ideas. So I love that you’re helping them pull that important feedback out, those ideas. Because I think you’re right. I think this is true in restaurants and food service. I think it’s true with people that clean hotels. If you just ask them how to something better and you’re real specific about it, they’ll tell you. It’s just, we haven’t historically asked. So I love that. Let me ask you about… Oh, go ahead.
Yeah. Just to tie one piece back there. What’s also very important is that when you democratize it, we talked about John and all of those kinds of things, not feeling valued, you have a way for people to voice their concerns and share ideas. And when they see that these ideas get institutionalized into some form, you get a buy-in form… Your employee, they feel valued. So it kind of goes back and ties into that broader engagement, motivation kind of thing as well.
Yeah. Everybody wants to be heard. Everyone’s supposed to feel like their input and opinion is both respected and they’re heard. Again, that’s kind of humanity in general. We want to have a great experience, we also want to be heard. And it’s frustrating when we’re not heard. That’s probably another reason for… Several things are baked into turnover and churn. But one of them has to be that people just kind of felt like no one was listening to them. So I love that you’re, that’s just one of the things that you’re solving, but you’re solving that problem. Features and functionality that’s on your roadmap, how do you make decisions on what’s next for the product?
Right. So essentially what happens is we have a way to collect feedback and ideas from our customers and that sort of gives us a pattern. What we’ve realized is that, like before pandemic, the kind of future requests that we would get from our customers. Customers are looking for… They’re asking you specific features. But from our perspective, we understand the business need behind it. And we understand that if 10 or 15 customers are asking for it, it kind of shows a pattern. For instance, after pandemic, we saw a lot of requests around being able to have like, for example, a survey where people could fill out if they’re feeling well, health and wellness check and those kinds of things.
And then we started to see these patterns in terms of having a way forward, crisis communication, having a way for people to provide feedback in terms of health and those kinds of parameters, contact tracing, those kinds of things. So just to summarize, what we do is essentially look at… We have a sense for where the industry’s moving based on exports in analysts, but we also get real tangible feedback from customers that are using it. And we formulate that into a roadmap based on that.
What’s great is that you’re using your own product in a way that you want your clients to use it. So you ask people, specific, what about this? What about that? And then you care enough to ask them, they care enough to give you feedback, and then you then can then sort through that, and see the patterns and where there’s density around a particular idea or feature, or functionality or something… some type of connectivity, et cetera. I love that by the way because it’s-
Just to add to that, we also do a lot of things on analytics. So everything that happens on the platform, we track that, we track user behavior, we track customer adoption. We look at which features are getting adoption-
Oh, smart. And so,
… and why they’re getting adopted. We actually then do a lot of… we constantly talk to our customers, understand why a certain feature is not being used. So those kinds of things educate us about some of the unique nuances of each industry. There are certain nuances of retail, which is very different from hospitality, different from construction. So that’s how we pulling that information.
You’d be surprised how many software companies don’t look at that data. I studied user adoption for about five years of my life. And you have it, most software firms have access to that data, they just don’t look at it. And one of the things that’s really fascinating about that is they’ll release new features, but they will roll back features that aren’t being used.
And all of a sudden they wake up one day and it’s feature bloat. Like it’s an application that has a hundred features, but people use five of them. I love that you all both have visibility and insight into it, but you action it. You’re doing something with that. That’s genius. Go to market. So you’ve gotten the demos and you’ve gotten sales, what’s been your caviar? What’s worked for you so far and your go to market strategy?
Right. So we being very focused on understand our target persona. Primarily there are two kinds of personas for our product. We have the HR and leadership that is looking to connect and motivate their frontline employees. And then we have the operational folks who worked with frontline employees and looking to automate their business processes. So our go to market strategy has been really to build, like I said, the onboarding experience from a product standpoint, it has been very, very laser focused on not trying to sort of have the product address all use cases, but go and provide that in terms of how we cater disparate for frontline employees.
From a product go to market, that has been our strategy. And generally in terms of the market, we’ve heavily focused on being [inaudible 00:21:30] leadership forums, events, where we find our target audience. We’ve done a lot of thought leadership kind of contributions, webinars, all of that to educate. Have you participated in forums? We’ve gone and showcase our [inaudible 00:21:52] events, those kinds of things, to drive awareness and introduction for our platform.
What’s great about the industry is that you’re targeting is, let’s just say restaurants for just a second, you have 10 clients that are restaurants, the 11th is easy. Because hospitality operates the same way, so does retail, big box, small box, they operate same way. Once you have some density around them, they already know that you know how they operate. And there’s no weirdness. Like in the corporate world, there’s weirdness.
Like if you want to do business, let’s say you want to do a TA play for a baseball team, it’s very hard to get another baseball team because they think of it as competitive. Whereas in the industries that you serve, they don’t. They’re like, “Oh, you get us, fantastic. Good. We won’t have to have a bunch of conversations around stuff that you already get. Great.” So I love that. I love the industries that you serve and the way that you’re serving them. Two final questions. One is pricing. And again, not down to the dollars and cents, but just kind of your model or your philosophy around how you price Groupe.io.
So as a standard, SaaS based pricing, which is a user-based subscription model. We do have different dealers. So we have a tier which is specifically focused on communication. We also have a tier where you can… So we’ve built the platform in such a way that customers can pick and choose. If they just specifically want to focus on automation, they can pick that deal. If they want to introduce automation, take the next level into this automation.
And then we have some purpose-built apps. And one of the things as part of go-to-market is that we’ve built industry specific apps, templates, and all of those kinds of things. So it’s a per-user model and then there are specific tiers. So depending upon the tier that you pick, it’s a different subscription model.
I love that. One of the things we didn’t touch on with go-to-market, but it’s there, both with retail and with food service is franchisors and franchisees and people that own… I think [Shaq 00:24:21] owns 150… I can’t remember what type of restaurant it is right now, but multi location. So that’s also yet another kind of interesting complexity when a business owns 14 restaurants and they’re all different. There’s three Taco Bells, seven McDonald’s, et cetera. They’re different and all by the way, they’ve got to have platform that goes across all of those and that they can manage in multiple locations. Which is a complexity that corporate doesn’t have, by the way, just FYI.
Right. In fact we’ve dealt with customers that… I mean, there are property management companies which have like 20, 25 different properties across different locations. Five mattered franchisees and five holidays in franchises. So what we’ve done is we’ve actually also in this case, created individual networks for each of these franchises.
Like Uber franchisee where there is collaboration between departments. So you can have general managers of each of these properties talk to each other, and those kinds of things.
That’s just great learning right there. I mean, a store manager talks to a store manager. And again, one could be in Topeka, one could be in San Francisco and they’re learning from each other and you’re that conduit for them to learn. And that stickiness too, I mean, it’s in your best interest too because it gets them into the product, keeps them in the product, et cetera. Last question. When you demo the software, when you show this for the first time to somebody, what do they latch onto? What do they fall in love with? or you can just tell they love this, what is that for you all?
So for us, it has been the user experience and the ease of onboarding. The moment they look at our product, being rated really high on our user experience, this is simple. I think our employees can use this and that’s very important to them.
100%. So that’s what we get. And one of the reasons why we’ve got this reduction and traction in the market is primarily because of that. What we do is we give them a demo environment to play around with, and we don’t even give them any training. And that is a testimony to the fact that, if you can do it, you just get the employees to start using it without any more training.
I love that. And secretly, what you’ve combated is, it’s the number one thing that keeps HR and TA up at night, is like fall in love with the demo. And then the next thing is, will my people use it? And you’ve already scratched that itch for them. And again, just by creating a great UI, UX, et cetera, and making it very intuitive, now they know that you’ve gone a long way to proving that their people are going to use it. It’s one of those deals, if you can use it, your people are going to be able to use it. So I love that. Thank you so much Praveen for coming on the show and really talking to us about Groupe.io. I love it. And I love the industries that you serve, and I just love the way that you’re going about business. So thank you.
Thank you so much for having me today. It was a pleasure. Thank you.
Absolutely. And thanks for everyone listening to the Use Case Podcast. Until next time.
William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.