Cleaning Out the Old School Mindset
Managed by Q cofounder Dan Teran once worked with companies that were designed to reject change, as he so eloquently phrases it. He’s witnessed firsthand the resistance executives show as they ignore, to their own peril, the real potential an intrapreneurial mindset has in a large organization. So although he runs a tech startup focused on office management-on-demand these days, Teran is the perfect host to include on the Startup Tours portion of our Enterprise Summit in NYC Feb. 24-25. He understands both the obstacles and the rewards in instituting an agile company mindset, for both early endeavors and established corporations.
What is Managed by Q (or just Q, as Teran calls it)? Well, while you’re busy running your company, you can outsource these folks to help you with cleaning, maintenance, and maintaining those office supplies, among other services, on-demand. Oh, and in case you’re wondering (we were), “Q” is just a name inspired by the characters in James Bond and Star Trek.
The company offers help on-call but is also committed to the idea that all of its workers a) should know how to clean well, no matter their position and b) deserve benefits, a 401(k) plan, and educational opportunities no matter their position with the company.
In a sea of gig-economy startups, Q’s level of commitment to its employees is commendable but it’s just one of the business’ admirable qualities. Q also places a high value on diversity with its staffing, which Teran says is a natural outgrowth of being based in New York City.
We’re excited to bring you into Q’s world as part of our Enterprise Summit Startup Tours, when you can meet Teran and team in person (and see what we assume will be their very clean and well-stocked office). In the meantime, we asked Teran about reimagining office management, learning from early failures, and the value Lean Startup methodology has played in Q’s success.
What fundamental problem were you solving by starting Managed By Q?
Running an office isn’t easy, and companies often get bogged down by the operational aspects of running their space. This includes anything from coordinating with cleaning crews, finding reliable handymen to take care of ad hoc projects such as plumbing issues or offices moves, and ensuring that their office is well-stocked with all the necessities they need to keep their team productive. The problem that Q solves is managing all of these core operational tasks to help companies focus their energy on their business. Being Managed by Q means investing in a higher functioning, more productive office.
What’s been your biggest success so far?
We’ve seen incredible growth and momentum in the four markets where we’re currently active NYC, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Word of mouth about Q has traveled like wildfire, and one of our biggest successes so far is our growth fueled by personal recommendations and consistently strong ratings about our service. Our Yelp reviews can give you an idea of the great experience we’ve been able to create so far.
What was a big fail that turned into an excellent learning moment?
When we first began servicing clients, we worked with partner companies who provided janitorial service to help us staff our early accounts. This made running our operation simpler, but we sacrificed our ability to control the client’s experience, train the team properly, and provide Operators with consistency in their employment. After only a handful of weeks later we realized the importance of building a company that provided the highest quality service not only to retain and grow our client base, but also to create meaningful jobs for our Operators. This in turn became a huge part of who we are as a company.
How has Lean Startup methodology come into your product and/or process?
Lean has been a big part of how we built our business. In fact, when we signed up our first dozen customers in February 2014 all we had built was a page to process credit card signups. Once we had enough validation that there was demand for smart office management, we went to work to build the products that our beta customers used just a few months later. Today, Q is a much bigger company but the culture of experimentation and hypothesis driven development lives on as we expand into new geographies and new business lines.
What sort of intentional culture have you created for the company?
At Q, we are all Operators, and everybody cleans. We have gone to great lengths to ensure that everyone in the company feels like they are on the same team, and have aligned incentives for long term success. For example, our cleaners and handymen have the exact same health and retirement benefits as our executives and engineers, and everybody at Q has to go through field operator training and clean offices in their first few weeks at the company. This has created a culture that cares deeply about one another, and about the success of the company.
Generally how does the New York startup scene differ from Silicon Valley’s in your mind?
We’re really proud of having built an incredibly diverse and inclusive company, and I think New York lends itself to that. Compared to the Valle (or any city for that matter) New York is one of the most diverse cities in the world. We all live on top of each other in this super dense geographic area. Millions of people from all over the world and different socioeconomic backgrounds are jammed into subway cars with each other every day. As basic as that sounds, I think New Yorkers have a different sensibility about what real diversity looks. It has been a big part of shaping our company’s culture and arguably a big part of how NY tech distinguishes itself.
What do you plan to discuss with the Learn Startup Enterprise Summit folks who’ll be visiting Managed by Q for a startup tour?
Prior to co-founding Q, I was a partner at a NYC-based firm called prehype. I worked with big companies like Mondelez, Castrol, Unilever, News Corp, and others to help build new digital businesses, so I know how hard it is to innovate inside of an organization that is designed to reject change. I’m excited to share what I’ve learned building Q, and hope that it can help inspire the visiting executives to act like entrepreneurs in their own businesses. We think of Q as a company of entrepreneurs, and this has been a key to our success.
Lean Startup Labs: Enterprise Summit is Feb. 24-25 in NYC. Grab a ticket here.