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“Minding Your Business” Seattle Radio Show Makes Weekends “Prime Time” for Startups, with Advisors like TSheets Time Tracking Founder

Like clockwork, every Saturday afternoon from 1-2p.m. on “MoneyTalk Radio,” 1300 KKOL AM, marketing strategist Robbin Block gives up a bit of her weekend to make time for some remarkable business success stories, including the Northwest region’s most promising startups. Her live, call-in show invites business experts, founders and loyal listeners to tune-in to the broadcast airwaves or check in to “I-Tunes” for the podcast streams that carry a special brand of content: “Reality Radio for Entrepreneurs.”

We caught up with Robbin, who is the author of Social Persuasion: Making Sense of Social Media for Small Business, an instructor to America’s small businesses as a SCORE counselor, and the principal of BLOCKbETA Marketing, as she began her weekly broadcast day.

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This week’s special guest on Minding Your Business was Matt Rissell of TSheets.  Matt spends his daytime hours helping businesses turn time into profit. He is the founder and CEO of TSheets, a company committed to making every minute of every hour count for your business. How? By encouraging employers and employees to reclaim a precious resource — their time at work— and have fun doing it.

TSheets provides more ways to record or “track” employee time than any other software company in its field — from clocking-in on an iPhone or Android smartphone, via a dial-in phone, sending an SMS text message or posting to a Web page, even tweeting time over Twitter. The “We ♥ Employees™” tagline that TSheets professes for every employee user-experience appears to be mutual. Employees have named TSheets the “#1 most requested and highest rated time tracking system on the planet.” 

Seattle24x7 “tag teamed” this interview between TSheets and Minding Your Business, perhaps the first such “stereo fidelity” interview of its kind.

It began with Robbin’s musical segue of the Rolling Stone’s “Time is on My Side.”  A double irony in this case. That tune could actually be a ring-tone for a TSheets’ user since the company offers a choice of custom interface sounds. For instance, you could start your day with a round of hearty applause, then finish up with a chorus of “Hallelujah!”

Seattle24x7: Where did the idea for TSheets come from?

Rissell: I was running a small company with four locations and about 35 employees who occupied different schedules and were spending time at our stores and on location with clients out in the field.  Each employee needed to juggle their schedules by tracking time in-house, in-transit and on location. I knew I needed a versatile, portable time clock but I found nothing available. I got together with an IT colleague, one of the best I’ve ever known, and asked if we could develop this kind of time tracking system together. He said “Definitely.” That’s how TSheets got started.

Minding Your Business: How do people track their time using TSheets?

Rissell: Good question. All of our applications can be accessed via the Net. We also have apps that can be downloaded to devices, both the iPhone and Android phones. Employees can punch in their time on these devices, clocking-in or out via mobile or at a Website, or they can Text or even tweet their hours. They can also manually enter their time back at the office. With GPS tracking, an employer can see if deliveries were made or if a construction crew is on location with the necessary people to do the job. 

Minding Your Business: “How does that solve the problem of scooch room?”

Matt: It’s interesting. One of our clients said to us, “We were pretty sure our employees were trustworthy with their reporting. Now we can rest assured when they prove us right.”  Manager approvals can be set up on a permission-based level if desired. Time reporting might be restricted to a particular computer, or to a particular location.

Seattle24x7: There seems to be a lot of time tracking software available online. What’s special about TSheets? 

Rissell:  When we began, a web-hosted time tracking system like ours with a really lightweight application was actually a disruptive technology.  Today we are successful as the only time tracking system that actually focuses on the employee experience. As a matter of fact, we are considered the number one employee-rated and requested time tracking system on the planet. That’s the big differentiator. Employers know that the productivity and performance of their labor force is crucial. The challenge is actually getting employees to use it. What TSheets does is make it fun. We make it fast. We make it very intuitive. Employees actually enjoy their experience so they’re the ones that request it.

Minding Your Business: Wow, so you have you users acting as sales people for you?

Rissell: That’s exactly right. 

Seattle24x7:  You’ve been running the company for about six years now. What do you know now that you wish you knew at the beginning?

Rissell:  The list is incredibly long. I wish that I had read The Lean Startup and also Behind the Cloud by Marc Benioff.

Seattle24x7:   What kind of advice wasn’t good? Was it marketing? Development? 

Rissell:  Mostly marketing and sales. Software-as-a-Service is very different than Software-on-Premise. The changes have occurred at a rapid rate.

Seattle24x7:   What have been some of TSheets most recent milestones?

Rissell:  We recently secured a partnership with one of the largest players in our industry: Intuit, creator of QuickBooks. TSheets is now one of the fastest growing apps in the Intuit App Center. We can now offer a seamless integration with Quickbooks through our TSheets Time Tracking for Employees App that is quickly gaining ground in the Intuit App Center.

In addition, we just landed an S&P 500 company, Snap-on, as a client with over 11,000 employees worldwide. We are humbled to be experiencing a 100% growth over last year, with no sign of slowing down.

Minding Your Business:  What have you been adding to the service of late that you find is getting some success? 

Rissel: We do a number fun things and have a full page of ”Add-Ons“ on our Website. We have a new Audio add-on. When you clock-in you could add the sound of  applause, or a ”Yabba-Dabba-Do“ at quitting time.

Minding Your Business:  How do you integrate your software through the customer’s website and API? How important is that part of your business to your growth?

Rissell: Incredibly important. We’ve won a lot of businesses, and more importantly, a lot of partners because of our open API. So that’s a continued focus we have. As mentioned, one of our newest partners is Intuit, in their App Center. We have a phenomenal integration with QuickBooks. We have the fastest growing partnership in Intuit’s industry that they’re aware of.

Minding Your Business: So you have this open API, do you have to provide a lot of support to make that work?

Rissell:  You know, not necessarily. People who are normally interacting with our API are usually very technical, when they’re developing against our API, typically they know what they’re doing. Sometimes we have to add extra features to support what they want, but not very often. We’ve even had our customers build a product off of our API. It’s called TymeShift and it’s an integration between ZenDesk and TSheets.

Minding Your Business:  And ZenDesk is customer support right?

Rissell: Yes, you’re exactly right.

Minding Your Business:  So they have integrated the time tracking of their customer support people? 

Rissell: Right. So what they originally wanted was the ability to track time against each individual ticket. And because the way TSheets is structured you can do that. So there was a big vacuum in the market, especially in the ZenDesk forms, so they built this product, launched TymeShift, it’s out there now. They got their own little business off of our API. 

Minding Your Business: How were you funded at the beginning?

Rissell: Well, originally, I funded it myself. When we really started to grow, I went out and raised a few hundred thousand dollars in seed capital, and that’s the only funding we’ve received. 

Minding Your Business:   So Matt, I wanted to talk about your tagline. I think it positions you well. ”Time tracking software, your employees, and you, will actually love.“ How did you come up with that?

Rissell: You know, it was like giving birth to be honest with you. There was a six year process before we actually landed on it. It started off as ”The defenders of the employee.“ I knew these were the wrong words, but the right theme. That eventually morphed into our current tagline, and several others. That ”We ♥ Employees.“

Minding Your Business:  What are you doing to market yourself these days?

Rissell:  We continue to focus on SEO, to show up for the right keywords. We have learned through our process where in our prospect’s buying cycle we need to meet them.

Minding Your Business:  What in Social Media is working for you?

Rissell: Ultimately, our customers look to our social media sites to validate that we’re a real company, a fun company, an active company.

Minding Your Business:  What sites are you using?

Rissell: Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and Linkedin, all four. [24×7]

Visit Minding Your Business Online at http://www.mybmedia.com/ to listen to the full interview.

Visit TSheets online at http://www.tsheets.com