Rob Hango-Zada has a mighty name and an equally solid eye for the platforms, apps and podcasts that make a founder’s work altogether easier. With his trusty co-founder Will On, Rob brought the Sydney-based logistics startup Shippit to life in February, 2015. Their software powers the delivery of hundreds of e-commerce businesses, offering shoppers a broader choice in how their shiny new laptop or suede ankle boots in taupe reach their destined doorsteps. But the startup’s ethos extends beyond plain shipping. “Our whole purpose is to empower our retailers to grow their businesses,” explains Rob, who wants Shippit to go above and beyond for its customers (e-commerce retailers like Frank Green, Glue Store and Harvey Norman), as well as its customers’ customers (i.e. online spenders like you or me.) “What I really want people to say about Shippit without me being in the room is, ‘That business is really on to something,'” shares Rob.
In the digital age, you can tell plenty about someone from the tech they habitually engage with. Thus, to get to know this thriving founder, we had a chat with Rob about the oft-used apps and tech that help streamline his business, and the podcasts that offer ample inspiration outside the office.
1. “The tool I rely on religiously is Slack, obviously.”
So I’m kind of the all-seeing eye, so I need to be in touch with everybody in the business, and as our business grows, primarily the leadership team. The tool I rely on religiously is Slack, obviously. I’ve always got it on my mobile, I’ve got my notifications on, and it’s always on my laptop. So I’m always making sure I’m checking in on people, checking in on the channels at work, and just making sure that I can contribute to keep everything rolling along smoothly. Before Slack, it was email and text messages, but our business evolved around the same time Slack hit the market, so it was quite fortuitous, I think.
2. “For note-taking, I use what’s called Sublime.”
I alternate between pen and paper and a really clunky notepad system. So I use what’s called Sublime, which is like a text editor that engineers generally use to do their coding. I find it really easy to just whack notes in there because it’s got multiple tabs. Problem is, it’s not like the Evernote that’s available everywhere, so I’m still grappling with that one. So I haven’t quite replaced the book with digital on my note-taking.
3. “So with payroll and finances, we use Xero pretty religiously.”
It’s really simple to use for us; it’s something that we live and die by. We’ll always log in to Xero on a daily basis, kind of looking at where the numbers are sitting and then what’s going in and out of the business from a cash-flow perspective. And then for payroll, it makes that whole area just so much easier for us, particularly our finance team. So they live and breathe in Xero.
4. “Intercom allows us to really understand our customers in an intimate way.”
Through the website is obviously the primary channel customers contact us, and via the website we have in-app chat, so they can reach out to us. We use a tool called Intercom and anyone I speak to about technology and tools, I’m always pushing the Intercom product. I think it’s brilliant. It adds a real personal flavour to our interactions and allows us to really get to understand our customers in an intimate way. And then our operations team, even our leadership team, are constantly conversing with customers on Intercom. So it kind of sits side by side with Slack, in terms of Slack being the internal communication and Intercom is more communication with customers.
5. “We’re currently looking at things like Optus Loop.”
We also have a phone line which customers can call us on and so we run a bit of a switchboard through that. We’re currently using technology which is probably not as seamless as it should be. We’re currently looking at things like Optus Loop, for example, just because that whole handover between receiving a call on the landline, trying to divert that from a mobile, getting the ring around, you know, not being available is becoming a real issue for us as we grow, so that’s something that we’re currently looking into. If our existing clients or prospective clients can’t get through to us on their first attempt, it makes us look pretty unprofessional. So we are looking at alternatives to make sure we don’t miss any calls.
Being a founder means you get pretty smothered by everything, so it always helps to take a mental break and seek inspiration. I guess the apps that I use religiously to get my head out of the game a little bit [are] your standard ones – Twitter to see what’s going on in the world; really dive into the updates from those people I follow and see what content they’re sharing. That generally sparks ideas in my own mind about what we could do better as a business. Instagram, obviously, and LinkedIn is kind of the other area I search for inspiration. It’s something which really helps us build our network of followers and helps us see what’s going on within our specific industry.
7. “Masters of Scale is a really alternative kind of business podcast.”
It sounds like I’m spruiking the Intercom brand, [but] it’s an Intercom podcast [called Inside Intercom], and it’s really good. They discuss everything from product design to user experience to just being in startups; it’s just really helpful in understanding how other businesses do it because they often interview other businesses. The most recent podcast I listened to was the Intercom team speaking to the head of customer experience at Slack, and how they actually run their customer experience function and how it’s different to the way other businesses have run their support team. So that was pretty helpful.
The other podcast I’ve just found is called Masters of Scale. That’s a really alternative business podcast, which I find fascinating. It talks more about the contradictions and paradoxes in the business world and how really successful entrepreneurs have really made it. The other two I listen to are This American Life for a bit of human interest and TED Talks audio to expand the mind, so they kind of keep me company during my nightly walk with our dog, Bernard.