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Chris Cardell

Interview with Shay Mandel (Otipo)

Otipo is a web based application employee scheduling system. All shift information is available online and shift/availability reminders can be sent out by email or SMS. The service is free for up to 10 employees.

I interviewed Shay Mandel, Otipo co-founder & CEO to find out more. This interview is the twelfth in a series of DoesWhat interviews. I put together an overview of the first week of interviews two weeks ago. Big thank you to Shay for the interview! Support Otipo by following it on Twitter or Facebook. You can follow Shay on Twitter.

How would you describe Otipo in under 50 words?

Otipo is a web-based application that provides a new and fun way of scheduling shifts. Otipo collects requests from the employees and creates an optimal weekly shifts schedule according to the business needs – saving hours of work, phone calls and SMS.

How and when did you come up with Otipo?

In 2008, our co-founder Golan Derazon spoke with a friend who was a Chief Resident in a hospital. Responsible for the residents’ schedule in his department, he was looking for an employee scheduling software to save him time spent on scheduling every week. But the solutions he found were too expensive and not easy to use, so he gave up. After hearing that, Golan started working on such a solution.

Otipo is a five person team, how is work distributed?

We work like a SWAT team – each trying to do his best and assist one another. We do have clear ownerships but we are trying to be less official and more productive. All our tasks, from development through technical writing to marketing are listed in our Agile management tool – we use Assembla for that. Each of us takes on the tasks he can do the best and executes them.

You offer paid plans for 11+ employees. What made you come to the decision of offering a free solution for companies with up to 10 employees?

We want to grow with companies, and we believe that small companies are a great investment. Being a cloud company, we can afford to have many small customers at very little cost, so we do this. In many cases, successful teams grow fast, and in some cases a pilot team is just a small part of a bigger organization – once they see how easy it is to use Otipo, its use may spread to other teams as well.

Has Otipo got the feedback and growth you expected since launch?

It actually exceeded our expectations big time. A lot of great reviews and articles have been written about us, and the traffic to Otipo is growing by the day, without investment in advertising. We hope we will be able to grow fast enough to meet the demand, and will not have to move to sign up by invitation only, like Gmail did at the beginning.

Who is your biggest competitor?

There are several online employee scheduling software solutions. But there is a huge untapped market, so we are not very worried about competitors. We have quite a few very innovative capabilities, which are still in development and are being tested by a select group of customers. Once we launch them, we will have a clear advantage over other scheduling solutions currently on the market.

What is the biggest hurdle you have faced or are still facing?

Our current focus is usability – we are investing a lot of time and effort in working with customers and improving our user interface to make it intuitive and flowing. For example, during our Beta phase, we saw that our assumption that users want a regular meeting calendar was wrong. A shifts calendar just looks different. We had to redo a lot of our development, but now we know it was worth it.

What are you most excited about at the moment?

We have great traction, and we are working hard to improve Otipo by the day. I am really excited to see this great growth, and even more excited about the new capabilities – concerning the Human Dimension of work and organizations – that we are currently working on.

Can you convince a business to use Otipo in under 75 words?

If you are running a business that works in shifts, take our free trial and see how easy it is to create a weekly schedule. Your employees will be happier because of the ease of use and the sense of fairness in the schedule, and your customers will feel it. And you can use the 2+ hours you’ll save every week for improving your business.

Finished reading? Check out Otipo!

This entry was posted on Friday, April 29th, 2011 at 4:33 pm GMT. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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