Foundergiant: Hello! Tell us a bit about yourself.
Evan Hallward: My name is Evan Hallward, Co-CEO at Aboard. I have a background in business development for both financial services & tech companies. I've worked for a number of startups in the Toronto ecosystem, helping setup & scale business development and customer service practices.
FG: Introduce your company and the people behind Aboard.
Evan Hallward: Aboard helps small-to-medium sized businesses setup & automate administrative HR tasks. We are currently focused on helping setup onboarding & offboarding processes with our People Operations web platform.
There are 3 Aboard co-founders. Myself (Evan Hallward), Lee MacDonald, and Shawn Price. Lee brings a background in technical recruitment and startup operations, most recently helping the last startup he worked at scale from 7 to 35 employees. Lee simultaneously builds company culture & sensible processes to increase retention and productivity. Shawn brings 10+ years managing and growing development teams and has been involved in the release of 4 full stack web applications.
FG: Tell us about your product.
Evan Hallward: Our web app helps business & people leaders setup People Ops processes quickly, such as onboarding & offboarding. It then supports the delivery of a consistently great employee experience. All this is done while helping leaders & teams save time while staying organized.
FG: How did you come up with the idea for the product? What inspired you?
Evan Hallward: Aboard was founded to fix the often absent and terrible new employee onboarding experience. This is something we have felt as a founding team in our past roles, but also a pain point we struggled with when setting up and onboarding new employee ourselves. We have expanded to fix poor offboarding experiences, where typically an employee leaves and takes a lot of business intelligence and accesses with them.
FG: Have you ever had to 'pivot' during product development?
Evan Hallward: We had originally set out with the intention building a low-tech, no-tech business service. Early feedback made it clear we were on the right track, but the delivery method wasn't actually going to create profound change. We then decided to pivot into a more tech-driven model, with the services / knowledge delivered through our own platform.
FG: What was the biggest challenge during product development and launch? Could some of these difficulties have been avoided by making different decision?
Evan Hallward: We have definitely had to be mindful of scope at numerous points. We had initially envisioned a much larger platform to launch with. In true lean startup fashion, we were able to identify a largely reduced scope that we could launch in 30% of the time and continue to drive conversations with early adopters. I am sure we could have gotten to that realization faster / sooner, but that was just how it happened and we are confident we are on the right path.
FG: If you started Aboard today, is there anything you would do differently?
Evan Hallward: I find it hard to believe that my initial reaction to this question is "not really", but I do think we'd follow a pretty similar path. There are smaller tactical things we could have done at different times (i.e. sooner), but overall the path we've walked has brought us to where we are.
FG: Did you learn any important lesson during the development of Aboard you would like to share with the audience?
Evan Hallward: Get out of the building and talk to people, but have a structured approach (e.g. script) and record everything. Your greatest focus for a long time (read: ever) should be finding your end users and learning about the pain you are solving from them.
FG: What is the pricing model of Aboard?
Evan Hallward: Aboard has 2 pricing models at launch. A freemium version is available that lets users sign up and set up their onboarding & offboarding programs. We are charging when these programs are actually 'activated' for a new or departing employee.
We have a recurring monthly subscription with limited time, unlimited usage for teams that are scaling or fluctuating more often.
FG: What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
Evan Hallward: Find a co-founder, or at the least create an accountability matrix. It is difficult to keep yourself going when "yourself" is the only one relying on you. Find some way to have others, or an identified business partner, have consistent expectations and wants.
FG: Where can people learn more about Aboard?