Welcome to the Use Case Podcast, episode 203. Today we have Josh from SPOTLYFE about the use case or business case for why his customers use SPOTLYFE.
SPOTLYFE’s mission is to help people feel empowered to be their best in every facet of their lives, to celebrate the human in Human Resources, to help companies attract and retain the best people and to help managers provide the best support.
Show length: 23 minutes
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Music: Welcome to RecruitingDaily Use Case podcast, a show dedicated to the storytelling that happens or should happen when practitioners purchase technology. Each episode is designed to inspire new ways and ideas to make your business better. As we speak with the brightest minds in recruitment and HR tech, that’s what we do. Here’s your host, William Tincup.
William Tincup: Ladies and gentlemen, this is William Tincup and you’re listening to the Use Case podcast. Today we’re going to have Josh on from SPOTLYFE. We’re going to be talking all about the Use Case or business case for why people would use and procure SPOTLYFE. And I can’t wait to learn a little bit more about it and talk to Josh. Josh, would you do us a favor and introduce yourself and SPOTLYFE?
Josh Schwede: What’s up William? Yeah, this is Josh Schwede, co-founder and CEO of SPOTLYFE. I Have been in the HR tech, talent tech industry for almost two decades. It’s been a great run. This is my first company that I’ve co-founded, but have been a part of many venture backed companies in the space, multiple exits and excited to talk to you today.
SPOTLYFE, it’s a brand new solution, so we just launched on Groundhogs day. So 2/2/2022, and it’s a solution built for the workforce, for the people, from the ground up. And the use case for it is, we all live in an, always on, world that forces many of us to sometimes live on autopilot, which forces us to miss the moments that matter the most to us. And this leads to increased stress and it leads to increased burnout and ultimately being unfulfilled.
And we strongly believe people need solutions that will put them back in control of their most important and valuable assets, which is their time and their focus so they can find purpose, joy, and fulfillment in the work that they have and beyond that. So that’s why we built the company. That’s why we built SPOTLYFE. It helps people on a daily, and a weekly pause and reflect and ultimately live more intentionally, which will increase their quality of life, but also motivating them to leverage micro changes on a weekly basis to create really big changes over time, without feeling overwhelmed.
And we’re a people first solution provided by the work place. So we’re looking for CEOs and chief people, officers to work with us to provide this to their teammates and we’ll help those workplaces shift from a transactional culture where people burn out and tap out to a human culture where their people can thrive.
William Tincup: Followed you yesterday because I saw this on Twitter. I can’t attribute it to anyone because it was just a blur, but it was, everyone talks about work ethic, no one talks about rest ethic And I’m like, this is right up their alley. This is what they do. Let’s unpack this for the audience a little bit. So the solution takes the individual employee into their time. And again, now time is commingled with your work time, your personal time, your wellbeing time, all of the things that make you, you. And it’s trying to give you a little bit more of a clear insight or visibility into how you utilize your time.
Josh Schwede: A hundred percent. And really we’re building this really, really simple, right? So all we’re trying to do is get people on Monday morning, before they race into a fire or they race into meetings or slack or email, start your week with a pause, think intentionally about your week and write down what matters the most to you.
And we want to help hold people accountable to that so they’ll reflect on what they’ve done and then come up with a weekly intention. One small micro change or micro habit that they want to focus on for the week. And that can be a work habit. It can be a life habit. It can be a wellness habit or it can be a combination of any of those.
And so they’ll do that at the beginning of the week, it’ll take a couple minutes, we’ll do a quick life pulse on them. We’ll ask them to rate each of those three buckets of work, life and self, and then they’re off and running. And they can build sub-sets to that intention of what actions do I need to take to make sure that I fulfill that intention? And then also, let me peek around the corner and think about what detractors I might have that might prevent me from getting that done.
So then, that’s always on for them for the week. And then at the end of each day, they’ll do a really fast, like 60 second reflection on the day. Asking them a question like, “How did they do against that intention.” Right? “What worked, what didn’t work?” And we’ll collect some quantitative and qualitative data. So they’ll do that once a day at the end of the day, reflecting for the week.
And at the end of the week, we’ll do one big wrap up asking them a few questions about that, right? And then do they want to build on that intention, that micro change for the following week? Or do they feel like they’ve mastered it and they want to move on to a new one?
William Tincup: So two things that you’re asking the user to do, you’re asking me do many things, but two words that really kind of resonated with me was the intentionality and then the reflecting. So, again, everyone’s busy, blah, blah, blah, all that stuff, but how do we get folks to actually hit pause?
I mean, you’ve done this, so how do we actually get people to think of, okay, you’ve got to hit pause so that you can actually be intentional about what you’re trying to get done in any of those areas of your life or again, combination of those areas in your life. And then at the end of the day, the reflection. The book ends of those things are important. You can do one, not do the other and still not have the insight that you want.
Josh Schwede: Yeah, well, listen, we’ve done a bunch of research over the past six months. We’ve talked to hundreds and hundreds of people and they’ve ranged from CEOs and chief people officers all the way down to people that… You’ve seen these folks posting on LinkedIn who are saying they quit without having any other job because they just couldn’t do it anymore.
And the research that comes back is, people… They’re crying out for help and they just don’t know where to start. And so our ask is, for companies who want to transition to be people first, prove to them all the work that these companies are doing with their employee value propositions, saying they care about their people, prove to them that you care about them by giving them SPOTLYFE. Help them realize like, “Hey, it’s okay, I am not going to be productive at work if I’m not really aligned in my life or even my self care.”
So there’s a couple ways. One is the company can help provide this for the people, but also we’re going to build hooks in a SPOTLYFE that are going to keep people coming back. And we’ve designed this in a way William that’s consumer grade. So it behaves a lot like people’s personal apps that they use either for fitness, for mindfulness, for sleep, for diet.
We’re building in some hooks that keep them coming back. And our hope is that we’re not trying to change somebody’s life overnight. We’re just trying to build these weekly micro changes. So if you do that day over day, week over week, month over month, those turn into habits and those small changes can lead to really big changes in your life.
So that research, we just found people that are tired, they’re languishing. They don’t know where to start. And so this is just something simple, which you say, “Just do this one thing this week. If you do this one thing, is it going to make you feel better? Is it going to make you feel accomplished?” And the answer is, yes. And we’ve got some little coaching tips and hooks built into the platform to help them get there.
William Tincup: So you mentioned people first, a few times so far. Define that for the audience. Because, again, at one point we stopped saying how many years we’ve worked in an industry. We just say, “A lot of years.” But you’ve been in a lot of different places. You’ve seen a lot of things. And again, it’s sad, but true. There’s not a lot of HR tech work tech plays that are great at HR. That just is, that’s just a point of fact. So when you say, “People first.” What are you looking for in a leader?
Josh Schwede: Well, I’ll give you a couple of examples that we’ve seen. You know, one is just, think back to the world that we were all living in pre pandemic, right? 2019, everybody was going a million miles an hour. It kind of felt like we were trapped on this hamster wheel and then the pandemic came around, and what it forced everybody to do, is to completely slow down and go into this reflection period.
And people thought about a couple dynamics. One, how’s my relationship with my boss, right? How’s my relationship with myself outside of work? Do I identify with the values of my company? Do I identify with my CEO? If the answer was no to any of those, people are just like, “Wait, hold on, I got to realign.” And so we’re just trying to help people figure out how to kind of get off that hamster wheel and just start with something really simple, right?
Burnout is real. And also, there’s a lot of people that through the research we found, that just were very adversely affected by this, right? They were caught, they were stuck in a house or their family members would be affected. And the bottom line is, you and I have been in this industry for a long time, if you want to impact engagement, if you want to impact performance, the world’s best managers know.
And it’s really understanding the whole person, not just the work lens on them to get that performance out of them right? And so we feel like we’re trying to build this bridge because, look no farther than Edelman. They came out with their annual trust index a couple weeks ago and said trust between the people and the employer is at an all time low and just trust in general around the globe is really low.
We talked to some of our initial perspective, customers and current customers who believe that social contract between companies and their people is severed and they’re looking for ways to build back trust. And so we’re just trying to be that bridge connector William, between the people and the company.
And we’re building this from the ground up for people first, nobody sees anything in SPOTLYFE unless somebody chooses to share it. So it’s protected data and it’s built for them with context for them and who they are as a person.
William Tincup: Yeah. I was going to ask you about that, because it’s clear as day to me what the employee gets, especially the visibility and insight into time and again, intentionality and reflection and being able to just understand how your day went and how off the rails or on the rails you were. That makes sense.
The employee, what they get again, I’m assuming that, as you said, just a second ago, they get what the employee shares if the employee chooses to share anything. But I think probably the most important thing is they get an employee that they can possibly retain. Right?
What if the companies… What are the leaders, because when they’re thinking about buying something like this, they’re thinking, okay, this sounds great. I mean, you worked in the content business on the LMS side of things. You know, people will put all kinds of content that’s not even affiliated to the job because they just want to put very contentive of their employees.
You know, drone racing and wine tasting and stuff like that? Just content that’s has nothing to do with the job because they want their employees to enjoy content. So I mean, I can see it in a similar way that you want to do this because you want your employees to be engaged.
You want to be able to have a chance in retaining, build up that trust. So when you’re talking to the leaders on the company side, what are the questions that they’re asking you?
Josh Schwede: Well, it’s interesting. We launched, as I said, on February 2nd and just candidly, we’re trying to target companies between 500 and 5,000 employees right now, just for this year. Right? Just to get some leading organizations that’ll come in and help us kind of build this for the future.
We’ll want to go for larger companies down the road, but we got some leads coming in from very, very large companies, over a hundred thousand employees, right? Some of these are remote only, professional services companies. And they came in and said, “We have a big problem on our hands.” Right? “Because the old world that we were living in where people were flying from project to project or flying back for training, that’s kind of all changed.”
And that was really what was core to their culture, right? So when you’re in a human intensive knowledge, working people business, this is a real thing. So that’s one interesting thing. We didn’t anticipate that, but some inbound demand from some very, very large companies were like, “We’ve got to fix this or we’ve got bigger problems to our business.”
I think the other thing is, you asked about people first earlier. These companies just want to prove to their people and they need to prove it. They want to prove to their people they do care about them. They do understand the links between wellness and happiness and productivity at work, but they need a way to prove it.
And a great example, I’m dying to talk to this person one day. His name’s Todd McKinnon. He’s the CEO of Okta, which is, I think, a 10,000 employee single sign on firm. A lot of people on this podcast probably use that to single sign on to different apps. Last summer, he wrote an internal email that got published in all kinds of magazines.
He, basically said, “Listen, we’re hitting our goals, we’re doing great, but I’m really worried about burnout, right? We will not get to where we need to go unless you’re taking rest and time off.” Like you said, at the beginning of the podcast, to decompress.
So he’s like, “I want every one of you, all 10,000 of my employees to email me your PTO plans, your vacation plans. We’ve got unlimited vacation here and I’m going to hold you personally accountable for doing this.” Because he knows his business and goals over the next one to three years are at risk if his people aren’t rested or unbalanced, right?
I thought that was a great example of a CEO who understands the value of their people. They understand how to be people first and they’re doing something really simple, which is, “Hey, we’ve got this benefit. I need to make sure you’re using it.” And so we just think that’s a perfect example of a company.
So, to answer your question, those are a couple examples of what we’re hearing in the marketplace of companies and how they’re trying to think about their workforce in the future.
William Tincup: Well, it’s interesting, I recently bought a Fitbit just in the last couple months, probably about October, when I said recently. And it’s just crazy that it gives me all kinds of data that I just didn’t care about. And now I do care about. You know, resting heart rate. I didn’t know that I had a problem.
But, SPOTLYFE, what’s interesting to me is it gives employees that type of insight into things like how much water you drink in a day. If you’re trying to lose weight, what are you trying to lose? All this stuff, that, again, it’s nice because now I at least have something that’s on my wrist that’s held me somewhat accountable to because it sends me updates on what I’m doing and how I’m tracking, which again, for what you’re doing with employees with SPOTLYFE is, you’re trying to give them that insight so that they can then make the changes.
Because if they don’t, again, like, great example with the PTO. If the CEO wouldn’t have said, “Hey, it’s okay, go do this.” And that’s one thing. “No, send me your plans.” That’s quite different.
Two questions. One is, what is this or does this integrate with any other kind of work tech? Or is it used off to the side and it’s just for employees and it’s just something that’s not integrated with any other work tech?
Josh Schwede: Yeah. So, again, we’re just getting started and I’ve got a deep background in partnerships and integrations, so we absolutely will have them out of the gates. We’re going to integrate into the calendar because we want to give some of our SPOTLYFE human users access to data about like, “Hey, before you get started for the day of the week, here’s what your day actually looks like. Is this how you want it to go in terms of having time pre-booked and free time available to go hit your intentions?”
So out of the gates, it’ll be with Microsoft and Google calendars. I think you’ll see us integrate with other wellness apps really fast. A couple of our initial customers are using a tool called modern health, which is really cool. It provides 10 free coaching and 10 free therapy sessions to employees. In case, they do some data analysis and if your score starts to go a little low, it might recommend that to you.
So we could easily see an integration to something like modern health where it’s, okay, use SPOTLYFE on a daily and a weekly to hit these intentions, right? And that can hopefully positively impact your scores in modern health or share those intentions with your coach, your therapist on things you’re trying to be intentional about to do that.
So I think over time, you’ll see us with some wellness stuff. Absolutely some work tech. I think you’ll see us have integrations with like, slack to be able to kick off the SPOTLYFE intention and reflection process in the flow of work with slack and others and teams. So those will be a couple areas you’ll see us focus on over the next 12 months. And then I think the last thing is, we’ll probably pre-populate some data back into the HRIS, into the employee profile,
William Tincup: Right? So a couple things. One is, you and Scott both have tremendous experience. You could have built anything, right? Literally y’all could have combined your minds and built anything in the market. Why’d you choose this?
Josh Schwede: I love this question. Yeah. So Scott Fowle is my co-founder. Scott and I have known each other for a long, long time in this industry. He’s one of the best humans I know. So, starting a company is really important to me to be working with somebody that I’ve immense respect for. He and I were employees four and five at HireVue in 2009. So really early there before video and digital interviewing was like a thing. And we had a great time there working for four to five years together.
And we both kind of went our separate ways, but we always knew we wanted to get back together at some point. Timing’s always the thing. But when we sat down, we brainstormed, we did go through that, right? It’s like, “What do we want to do?” We were trying to look at macro trends, but also things that we were passionate about.
And for us, we had all had a combination of great bosses and some other bosses that were tough. And we also had led multiple teams, right? And we did understand, he and I both understood the key to really unlocking potential is understanding that whole person that’s on your team, right?
If you can help them prioritize the work stuff in a way that also helps them meet their personal goals, that’s important. I think the other thing we thought about is, most of the platforms, if you walk around any HR or work tech conference, most of these platforms are built for either the company or for leadership.
So when you go and sit down and use the application, it’s like, “This doesn’t really talk to me. It doesn’t understand who I am.” And that’s a huge contrast when I’m sitting on the couch at night or watching movies or TVs, or I’m using those personal apps, like your Fitbit or whatever.
Those all have amazing context from you. They’re built for me, they’re teaching me things about myself. So we said, if we can build something that was built for the individual ground up, and it was something that people wanted to keep coming back to, that was consumer grade, like those personal apps we knew we could get people really excited about that.
And imagine the data possibilities, right? Imagine an activated workforce that was really aligned, that was excited about hitting their work life and self goals. They’re engaged, they’re performing at high levels. And then it’s building back that trust between them and their companies. We have many different angles we can take with SPOTLYFE if we’re able to prove out that concept and activate the humans that are in SPOTLYFE.
William Tincup: You mentioned consumer grade and, for the audience, I’ve seen the technology and both on the website, but also the tech part. It is consumer grade. It is exactly what you would expect coming out of the Apple Store or out of Google Play. It’s exactly what you would expect an app to look like. And it’s gorgeous and super, super easy and intuitive. Josh, last question is, what’s success look like for SPOTLYFE in 2022?
Josh Schwede: Yeah. So we’ve got goals this year, and then we’ve got future goals. For us this year it’s really simple. We’re bringing the product to market and we’re looking for 20 companies. We have signed customers already, but we’re looking for no more than 20 companies that get this instantaneously, that understand the dynamic between their people and their connection between wellness and happiness and performance.
And we want companies that want to help us grow. So we’re looking for passionate CEOs and chief people officers, because we do believe this has to come from the top down, right? If your people are going to make the transition to this, the CEO has to be like the CEO of Okta, Todd McKinnon, who’s saying, “Hey, I’m leading this way.” So, if you’re a CEO or chief people officer or you’re working for a company and you know that your company is trying, or is people first, we’d love to talk to you.
We just want those 20. And what we’re going to do this year is, get the product deployed to those customers. I’m sure we haven’t figured out everything. There’s going to be some things that don’t work as planned, which we’ve been there before. Want to figure out what works really well and double down on that and where we need to make changes.
And then we’ll refactor the product and then next year we’ll transition and we’ll just have free downloads of the product that anybody around the world can use. We’ll have managers be able to swipe a credit card for their teams to just try it at the team level. And then we’ll still be trying to work kind of with those CEOs and chief people officers. So short term, we’re looking for companies that want to try something new and want to help us grow. And that’s the goal this year in 2022.
William Tincup: I love it. Josh, thank you for carving out time. I absolutely love what you’re building and I can’t wait to just see the success that y’all are going to create.
Josh Schwede: I love it, man. Thanks for the invite. If anybody wants to reach out direct, my email’s, JoshSPOTLYFE.com and that’s S-P-O-T-L-Y-F-E. Always good talking to you man, it always brings a smile on my face.
William Tincup: Absolutely. And thanks for everyone listening to the Use Case podcast until next time.
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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.
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