Every software company aims to make a positive change, but they can’t make an impact unless people use it. This is where Skilljar comes in—its online training and analytics platform makes it easy for companies to build and deliver learning to make their products easier to understand and use for customers and resell for partners.
Based in Seattle — in the backyard of Microsoft and Amazon— this start-up uses Zenefits to help level the competitive playing field for hiring and incentivizing great employees to drive its thriving business forward.
Two years after its 2013 launch, Skilljar’s fledgling business was picking up interest, awards, venture funding, and business. Co-founders Sandi Lin and Jason Stewart recognized the need to invest in scalable infrastructure to likewise interest potential new staff members.
The partners —experts in software usability—selected Zenefits in 2015 for its ease of use and ability to scale their efforts to hire, onboard, and provide benefits to their quickly-growing team.
Innovate and Emulate
Sandi and Jason left leadership positions at Amazon to start Skilljar. Much about their company is built on fresh thinking and innovation: from the product to the way they crowdsourced the name of their business, to their unique approach to hand-selected board members in their latest, dual-funding round. But they also recognized the relevance of some business values they learned at Amazon: a customer-centric culture and zero compromises on hiring the right people for open roles.
Today, the Skilljar team is made up of: engineers and product experts; customer engagement and Go-to-Market team members; plus operations and customer success/education representatives. While the young company has less resource for benefits packages on par with Amazon and Microsoft, their unwavering commitment to customers and top-caliber team (they’ll hold a position open until they find the right person) makes their smaller environment very appealing to staff who want to make their own mark on a business.
“We attract people looking to engage in a startup,” says VP of Marketing, Aashish Dhamdhere. “Unlike most startups, whose hiring focus is to get people in the door, our approach offers stronger and more stable teams which, in turn, enable colleagues to grow their skills and make more impact, sooner.”
Similarly, once Skilljar finds the right candidates, they rely on the stable, scalable Zenefits platform to help them quickly —with “a click and an email”—to make an offer, share all the context and forms a potential new hire will need to onboard, and provide benefits selections. The company has grown about three-fold since selecting Zenefits, to more than 80 employees in 2019.
“Growth is key to our business,” says Aashish. “Any year we double in size is a good year.”
In a startup, there is a huge opportunity cost to things that don’t add value to the growth of the company. Zenefits helps us focus on what we do best.
Matt Buchan, the Director of Finance at Skilljar, adds: “Partly because Zenefits helped us, early on, to get our people processes up and running smoothly, we more easily accommodated all of our growth. We are just now at a stage where it makes sense to expand the internal people team.”
In June 2019, Skilljar brought on its first head of people operations.
Experience without Expertise
The staff at Skilljar is passionate about learning and/or teaching. Which is great in a startup where “firsts” are a daily occurrence, and balancing many roles is common.
“Zenefits has been great,” says Matt. “I am not an HR professional, but I have been using Zenefits to operate our business in many ways. First is onboarding: getting all the information we need to be compliant with laws and security background checks as well as ensuring I-9’s are signed and in place. Next is providing easy access to select and manage benefits: health insurance, disability, dental vision, and commuter savings accounts. And I also use it to track paid time off and hourly time tracking. And all of this is integrated with payroll.
“Everything we do in Zenefits is intuitive — we don’t really have to think about it. That is a reflection of Zenefits’ thoughtfully designed product. In fact, we are getting to a size where people turn to Zenefits to understand how the organization fits together and how everyone relates. Zenefits is the source of truth for Skilljar’s structure.
“ I joined when there were only 10 people here,” adds Matt. “I wasn’t sure what to expect from a startup. It was a great first impression to use Zenefits for my onboarding: it was easier than at Amazon. Zenefits is worth its weight in gold for how it has supported substantial growth and scale in people operations without us needing up to add more headcount.
“Without Zenefits, I’m not sure how we’d run this organization to deliver on all we do for our customers: from product to sales, support and education teams,” concluded Matt.