Podcast: Riding Unicorns Startup Spotlight
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Get 20% off when you hire your first team. Go to Code monk.ai and quote unicorn in your inquiry. Hello and welcome to Riding Unicorn’s Startup Spotlight. Today we are delighted to be joined by Chris pre founder at Zelt. Hi Chris. Thanks so much for joining us.
Hey James. Thanks for having me. And nice to meet you all listeners, virtually.
Well, it’s great to have you on. So Chris, maybe you could just start by explaining what Zelt.
Yeah, we develop a software, companies can use to, manage slash automate as much as possible their, um, people administration. So that means, you know, HR admin, payroll administration, and IT.
That means you can onboard people very easily offboard people very easily, uh, and spend less time on admin and instead spend more time on building product, great products and then selling it and, uh, achieving your mission.
Well, you may have covered it there, but what problem do you solve with Zelt?
Yeah. So, um, the last kind of five, 10 years, like it’s become actually quite complicated, uh, to run even small businesses, uh, and companies spend a lot of time on menial tasks.
Um, I think it’s partly due to globalization companies go global much earlier now, even if they’re, you know, even early stage. That means dealing with global legislation, taxes, employment law, there’s not all kinds of different ways you can employ people. It has become a much bigger pain point because information security is now even a topic for smaller companies.
SOC two, ISO 27 regulations. and, you know, companies use more and more and more tools to kind of, , try to address those things. As a result, a lot of time is spent on, let’s call it people admin or people operations, and the future of, even hr, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s automated. It’s AI assisted and for that, a new type of, of software is needed.
And that’s what we’re trying to build.
Awesome. So maybe you could tell us a little bit more about your solution to that.
Yeah, so it’s, it’s a software. You can sign up, you can log in, right, and e everybody in the company has access to it. And, as an administrator, so as a, as a CEO or founder or COO or head of people, you can pay your team there.
You can pay your employees and contractors, you can unload them in minutes, credit an employment contract, equip them with a laptop, set up email accounts and accounts, and your notion. Doom and GitHub, et cetera. and you know, as an employee it’s kinda like your unified sort of interface, digital interface with the company.
You can book holidays, you can see when people are out, or have birthdays. You can request access to systems or additional permissions. , get a new laptop or a new charger if it’s broken. and it’s kind of like Revolut for, HR is kind of like everything you need in a single application.
It works on the browser, it works on mobile. you can use it as a bot on your Slack and teams. So it just makes it much more easy to get the things you need done, as an employee.
And the product is amazing. Um, so who, who’s the sort of target audience? What’s the ideal company size?
Yeah, so it’s pretty broad.
Our initial target market was lots of startups, modern companies that kind of wanna open to using new tools. it has changed quite a bit in the last year as the product has matured quite a bit. So we now have also, let’s say, regular SMBs. We have a, uh, an Eston Martin refurbishing shop somewhere down in Kent, um, that like it because of the mobile app.
We have like, think tanks and consultancy firms. It’s a lot of startups. I, I’d say it’s, probably still 70% of our business. and it ranges anywhere between two founders that just raised the previous seed round and uh, EF or seat camp or something up to companies with, a hundred, 200 employees where.
The nature of the is maybe slightly different, but generally, the product works in a similar way for, for those companies. And in that sense, you know, it’s very similar to maybe a Google workspace. It’s useful for a tiny company and it works also well for big companies.
The user interface is just as simple for everybody. , but configurability, the permissions and the setup that happened behind the scenes is something that allows also bigger companies to use it. But importantly, as an employee, you don’t get really exposed to that. It stays simple on the, on the front end for the employee.
Awesome. And so what traction are you comfortable discussing?
We have close to a hundred paying customers across the UK, United States, and Europe. It kind of surprised us a little bit that we could, get international customers earlier than we thought. We thought we were gonna be confined to United Kingdom for quite some time.
And reminder, we do things like payroll, for example, right? So this is, uh, region specific. but yeah, we’ve, we’ve have those kind of a hundred paying customers across regions. And, and particularly the cohorts are getting bigger because the companies are getting bigger, right? So a year ago we had almost no, no company with more than 20 employees on the platform.
And now our sales pipeline is mostly companies between, you know, 50 and 200 employees. So that also means the, the business changes quite a lot. Those companies have different requirements. They have a more kind of enterprisey thinking already, particularly when it comes to startups that are used to using very high quality software.
So far, I’d say we are quite pleased with the progress.
Well, hopefully there’ll be some people listening that will wanna get in touch.
And so what funding have you had today so far?
Yeah, so we, we had two, uh, funding events so far. One was in an angel round that we did with, convertible notes. There were some VCs in there as well, like Village Global and Lakestar. Uh, and then we did a formal, our first formal funding round in, in April last year. Uh, and that was, with episode one, which is a fund I know because they invested in a friend of mine, who founded Omnipresent. So, yeah, great guys. And you know, that was kind of our first formal round of funding, last year.
Yeah. Awesome. And of course, Hector, uh, episode one is the, the Riding Unicorn’s cohost. So it’s great to have that link up. Of course. Yes. Um, and so, uh, what’s the big vision? Where do you want to take Zelt in the long run?
We wanna enable companies to spend less time on menial task and administration and focus more time on important work. And so really we see ourselves not really as an HR tool or as an IT management tool, we really think of Zelt as a business automation software. And of course, we don’t automate everything, but we really focused on the people aspect of running a company.
We wanna become the go-to tool for modern companies to manage their teams, the best tool you can have, for a startup and also, we want to mature the product enough so even if you’re growing really fast or become way bigger that we can also serve you and help you automate HR and payroll and IT administration and provide a better user experience for employees. I think. That’s something that I think most, you know, tools currently in the market are, it’s more of an afterthought.
They’re really administrative tools, and, generally don’t have a good user experience for, employees. That’s the case for market leaders like, Workday and newer startups, like, Personio and Bamboo. Generally, they’re not very loved by employees. It’s usually a decision maker driven or like an admin, sales-driven, buying decision.
But, you know, we think in the end, uh, it’s the employees that are the, you know, the most, the biggest users of the system. After all, uh, only maybe two or 3% of your company are administrators. The rest are employees. So it needs to work well for them as well to adopt it. So, That’s really important for us that we create an amazing user experience for the employee.
That’s why we decided to build native mobile apps basically from day one. So we’re on the browser, we’re on mobile, and we have the interfaces with your slack and teams apps as well. So, uh, it makes the friction, uh, uh, as low as possible for the, for the employee, for the regular lose of the.
Yeah, I love that. Well, that there’s, it’s amazing how many inefficiencies there are still in the business world, and you are certainly fixing a bunch of them, which is awesome. Um, so congrats with that.
So Chris, um, as you know, we like to sort of wrap up our startup spotlight with our final question, which is if you could add one advisor to your team, it can be anyone in the world, who would they?
I’d say Nikolay Storonsky from Revolut. There’s two reasons why. Revolut is interesting. I think we have a very similar approach to product, the way we structure our product teams and we think about also shipping product and user experience, and speed of delivery.
On the other hand, I think, just like the mindset around like growing and customer experience, and also the aggressiveness and growth, and go to market and internationalization. It’s really, I think what, you know, set Revolut apart against many of the other Neobanks that kind of really tackled only specific regions, while Revolut went global, uh, um, from almost from day one, which I think is one, one of their key success factors.
Um, so I think, you know, some, having somebody on board who’s gone through a growth journey like that, plus has a very similar approach to product, uh, is somebody I I, I admire and I’m just personally also a, a fan of his, uh, we used to be investors in, in Volute when I was a, a VC and you know, so there’s some common connection there and yeah, I would love to have him on the board.
We know from looking at the data that a lot of people at Revolut listen to the podcast, so maybe this will trickle through to him and, uh, that might happen One.
Absolutely. And we have a lot of customers, who are ex Revoluters. So, um, people that left Revolut to build their own businesses. So it’s a network, you know, that I’m, that I know quite well. Uh, and um, so yeah, maybe we can, we can get Nikola board one day.
Awesome. Well, Chris, thank you so much for coming on and telling us more about Zelt. Very exciting business solving a load of inefficiencies within the business building world. So thanks again for sharing that with us.
Pleasure and uh, thanks for having me, James.
This episode is sponsored by Code Monk Access the world’s best tech teams on demand with Code monk.ai. Codem Monk is a platform for fast growing startups to build high performing tech teams by hiring pre-vetted developers using their unique machine learning algorithm with an easy-to-use online dashboard, you can scale your tech teams anywhere within days rather than months.
Get 20% off when you hire your first team. Go to Code monk.ai and quote unicorn in your inquiry.