Brothers Brian and Robert Roizen love to —literally— crack the code on thorny business problems. Their latest venture, Feedonomics, helps ensure that each product their customers sell online, gets in front of consumers looking to buy. Their relentless curiosity about improving digital commerce has resulted in a product and service that 30% of the top 1,000 online retailers rely on. They’ve also been recognized in Inc Magazine’s top 100 fastest-growing businesses, and Forbes 30 under 30. The secret sauce? They’ve built their business with a team of 150 people, who each share a passion to problem-solve. They ask ‘why’ to a point that might irritate some people, but it is key to unlocking answers.
Feedonomics is 100% self-funded and has successfully doubled its business every year since its founding in 2014. This gives the company’s leaders total control of their destiny — and full responsibility to manage the ‘domino effects’ of growth. “Every time we solve one bottleneck, like building demand generation, we create a new one, like having sales capacity to cover that demand, and services to cover the sales,” says Brian, the company’s Co-founder and Chief Architect. “It’s been a wild ride.”
Indeed. In 2019, the company added 100 of its 150 employees. To avoid bottlenecks in that level of growth, Feedonomics management knew they needed an all-in-one technology to help them manage hiring, performance development, benefits, and payroll —at scale.
“We needed an HR solution that connected everything we were doing for our people. It was a massive problem that we could either solve with hiring two full-time people to manage the disparate processes or find a technology solution,” says Brian.
“Zenefits’ demo blew us away. It had all the functionality we needed in one place. As engineers, we especially appreciated the beautiful user interface and the beautiful experience.”
High growth, high-risk problem-solving
Companies ranging from Samsung and Toms to Torrid (and nearly any retailer you’d find in your local mall) turn to Feedonomics to ensure all of their products appear on any relevant digital shopping channel. Feedonomics is especially critical during a five day period —“Black 5-Day Weekend”— when 25% of all digital commerce happens.
“In those five days, any misstep could be catastrophic to a retail business. In addition to our product, we have our omnichannel marketing experts on call to problem-solve across a myriad of potential challenges to ensure our customers’ products look like what consumers are searching for,” adds Brian.
Therefore, having the right people with the right expertise — and the right attitude is pivotal to Feedonomics’ growth.
Clean the shed: building an engaged —and egoless— culture
Brian is quick to point out that he is not an HR expert, but Feedonomics does focus a lot on culture. Their inspiration comes from the book, Legacy, about the winning performance culture behind New Zealand’s “All Blacks” rugby team. The cultural principles are built on leadership by example, like the notion of “sweeping the shed” (when team leaders clean up the locker room after a game). Feedonomics is all about hard work, shared respect and zero egos.
In fact, the company is super scrupulous about recruiting and developing talent that has the right expertise and mirrors their values. Feedonomics has turned down Harvard, MIT, and Princeton applicants whose egos were more evident than their ideas.
They also identify internal talent early on to fit into new roles. “Anyone at the company can apply for new roles we might not have known about a few weeks ago. We encourage our people to ‘go for the gap’, ” says Brian. “One reason we started hiring remote team members is to get the right expertise for the emerging business we are in. For example, there are only a few hundred people in the country with the skill set to be an enterprise account manager in our industry.”
“No one person knows everything about eCommerce because it is always evolving. We provide training on week one that might expose people to something they never learned in school. It is likely that from your first week at Feedonomics, you will know something that 80% of the rest of us don’t know. So, it is important we learn with —and from— each other.”
Feedonomics relies on Zenefits to help support all of this, from speedier, seamless onboarding to performance development and ensuring benefits and competitive pay for its staff.
Brian adds: “We are engineers: everything we’ve learned about HR we’ve learned from Zenefits and through its online customer community, ClubZen. It is invaluable training and easy access to learning the best practices of what is working in other places. In fact, we’ve built our onboarding practices from great ideas shared within the community.”
There are a few ways that Feedonomics considers the value of its Zenefits partnership, including:
- Onboarding: “A 2X improvement, replacing massive inefficiency. Multiply that by 100 hires in 2018 and it has a huge impact.”
- The Right Staffing: “Since we bought Zenefits in 2018, we’ve tripled our staff without needing new HR support or data entry staff.”
- Performance Insight: “We used to have 1:1’s as an after-thought. But with Zenefits, we are seeing so much benefit to giving —and receiving— timely feedback. Now we are documenting all 1:1’s to look at trending topics and feedback we need to address as managers.”
- Benefits: “Before, our health benefits broker sent out all kinds of plans and we had to review them all to find which ones best applied. Now, it’s all there, summarized and sorted in advance, on our laptops or mobile phones. Zenefits for benefits administration (plus our own broker) was a no brainer.”
- Business Insight: “We use the built-in Business Intelligence reporting to see, at a moment’s glance, how we are doing on compensation, diversity, turnover by department and more. It is a great aggregated way to see statistics.”
- Mobile Access: “For our staff, the Zenefits’ mobile apps are great. A clever and easy way to help people access and manage what they need. And enabling the team to log their time on mobile, has led to efficiencies we never had.”
- Connecting our team: “We love that Zenefits helps prompt birthday and anniversary reminders. We make a big fuss about them: in our chat forums, our newsletter and we reinforce them in person. That shared celebration is important.”
- Service: “Zenefits’ service is absolutely key. We strive to be the industry standard in service and they are doing exactly the same thing. Our customer success manager has been fantastic to work with: always immediate and instrumental in helping us to quickly navigate through any challenge.”
We trust that Zenefits will continue to come out with awesome integrations and products to make our lives easier. We completely trust what Zenefits is doing.
Co-founder and Chief Architect
Connecting the dots: all in the family
“One of my favorite things about our business is that we are proof of the American Dream,” says Brian.” In fact, Brian and Robert’s parents are immigrants— and most of the (very bright and individually accomplished) Roizen family now works for the company. For example, their dad, Igor, who holds multiple technology patents and was Chief Scientist at Shopzilla, also used his pattern-matching expertise to model then decode the competitive advantages of crickets’ chirps. Really.
“As we’ve grown, we’ve also been able to power the dreams of our team members, enabling them to learn and explore career options. Lots of our staff is right out of college. We don’t look at what you’ve done before us, but what you put into the role with us. Many of our team members who started with us as their first job out of college are now managers, directors, and on our senior leadership team.”
“Having happy people is a huge emphasis for us. Many of our team members have met their friends and even significant others here. We love the connection which is part of why people are happy and feel fulfilled. But, if we aren’t the best place for you, we are equally committed to helping you find your next thing.”
Feedonomics’ powerful growth comes from how it connects products to consumers and connects its people to work that they love.