What to prepare for as your startup GROWS up!

When your scrappy startup makes it to the big time, success is often accompanied by growing pains. But with the right foundation there’s no stopping sustainable growth. Former GRIFFIN Accelerator startup SignOnSite is a shining example, and is currently looking to expand their team. We had a chat with Co-Founder and Head of Operations Alexandria Garlan about the journey and her “big hairy audacious goals”.

Alex, thanks so much for talking with us! SignOnSite is close to the Canberra Innovation Network’s heart, as we’ve known you since you were a member of the GRIFFIN Accelerator cohort a thousand years ago (back in 2015). How has the business changed and shifted in the last few years since that original inception?
A tipping point for the company was in finding product-market fit. We always knew we had a tool that solved a problem for the industry, but we needed the industry to be open to solving problems using technology. Since the industry hit that tipping point, our focus has been on the sustainability of the business and on creating repeatable growth.

If you take yourself back in time to when you first started – what was your big hairy goal then? And what does it look like now in 2021?
Our BHAG (big hairy audacious goal) when we started SignOnSite was to be the app on every construction worker’s phone; with roughly 25% of construction workers in Australia and 50% in New Zealand using our app, we’ve made great strides towards that goal.

I’d say our BHAG now is more focussed on our ability to affect risk and safety on sites. For example, the industry measures the success of safety programs using lagging indicators; we want to use site data to present leading indicators and stop accidents onsite before they happen.

“One team, one dream”, amiright? What are the main things you have to consider when growing your startup’s team? Have any of these been unexpected? How did you handle those moments?
A startup is typically a group of people doing something uncertain for the first time; you’re low on cash but high on enthusiasm. As the company grows, you often need expertise that isn’t available within your team. If you’re lucky, you have an incredibly self-aware group of leaders who recognise at different stages that the company has outgrown them and will step aside at the right time. Unfortunately, what’s likely to happen is that people don’t realise they’re in over their heads or don’t know where to go for information. Making sure that your key team members have networks and mentors to ask for help and honest advice goes a long way.

Do you have a key method for onboarding new staff? How do you keep your core values and mission alive?
We have a new induction program that people go through; it was written by our incredible Sales Operations Manager Mitchell Sirris. In the latest induction, several modules teach new team members everything from industry information to SignOnSite products and how we generate revenue, even down to using different internal systems. For example, one module of our induction takes newcomers through our four company values:
• Act with Integrity
• Effective over Familiar
• Worker First
• Unseriously Professional

These values are core to our day-to-day operations at SignOnSite, so we make sure everyone is across them as soon as they come on board and understand how to use them as a decision-making tool.

Any advice for an entrepreneur who is currently growing their team?
Build a network! LinkedIn is annoying, but it’s a great way to stay in touch with people you’ve worked with before or met at events. That way, when it’s time to hire, you can reach out to your network first and their networks by proxy. In addition, it’s way cheaper than a recruiter, and you, or someone you trust, has already vetted the person you’re hiring. Just make sure you’re realistic about a candidate’s skillset and that they’re adaptable enough to deal with a startup environment.

Are you still looking for staff? Who’s your ideal candidate, and how can they get in touch?
Regardless of whether or not we have an advertised role, we’re always happy to talk to passionate people about startups and construction if their values align with ours. So reach out to us at team@signonsite.com.au, and we can see if something is coming up soon that will interest you.

Having said that, we’re currently looking for an Android Engineer! So if you know an experienced Android Engineer, preferably Canberra-based, please get in touch.

Thanks, Alex! And congratulations on your success and continued growth.