SkedX: Engaging employees through scheduling
That Anthony Rinella has made employee scheduling effective, engaging and even fun is impressive. That he’s turned his idea into a highly successful business with hundreds of clients, all by the age of 25, makes him a young entrepreneur worth watching.
Rinella is the founder of Algrin technologies and the creator of SkedX, a web-based, real-time scheduling program that lets employees communicate with co-workers and managers in an online hub. It makes swapping shifts, taking sick days and booking vacation time easy, and a game feature even awards points–redeemable for company perks or days off–for actions such as taking an unwanted shift.
Managers, meanwhile, use SkedX to more easily create schedules that stay within budget, and track employee absences, turnover, hourly rates and more.
“Engaged employees are more productive. With this approach, the work schedule becomes a kind of social network, where everyone is connected and employees are part of the scheduling process,” says the young entrepreneur.
In 2006, Rinella was taking business at the University of Guelph, and worked part time in retail. Moving shifts around courses and exams was always a pain, and he realized software that solved the problem could make for a viable business. So Rinella got some friends together and started Algrin Technologies.
The company’s first four years were plagued by problems common to many start-ups–inexperienced leaders, inadequate expertise, an underwhelming marketing plan, and bad advice from family and friends. By 2010, however, with his business skills honed through experience, Rinella adopted a successful inbound marketing specialist as an advisor, and was approved to set up shop in the Toronto Business Development Centre–a business incubator that provided valuable tools and training.
Rinella also replaced his friends with a more skilled team that included two software engineers–one in Toronto and one in Vancouver–and a designer in Poland. After months of hard work and collaboration through Skype chats and daily web conferences, they completely revamped SkedX.
“We’re an awesome team and we work really well together. Whatever challenges come up, we can take them on,” Rinella says.
But he didn’t leave the solid software designs to speak for themselves. Rinella also concentrated on marketing, featuring SkedX at trade shows and in magazine ads, although the advertising approach has changed—today the company mainly uses content marketing and social media to push its product. Rinella blogs frequently on SkedX.com about tools and tips for small- and medium-sized businesses, and the information is delivered by e-newsletter to about 1,000 subscribers. He’s also created several YouTube videos of tips on effectively using SkedX software, and interviews with human resources experts and business leaders. All of this content is shared on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, where the team members are all active.
“We want to come across as knowledge leaders for SMEs, and our customers are on social networks, so it’s important for us to be there talking to people,” Rinella says.
Prices start at $29 per month for companies with up to 15 employees, costing about $2 per employee per month. SkedX currently has about 200 subscribers of all sizes, including giants such as Aramark and M&M Meat Shops.
Rinella and his team are working to continually improve SkedX, but he says his ultimate goal is to develop a comprehensive suite of HR software tools.
“It’s not just about making money, and getting customers,” says Rinella, “but making sure everyone here is happy and wants to keep pushing themselves.”