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Evolution of Time Doctor: From SEO Ventures to Remote Work Solution

Robert Rawson, Owner and Co-founder of Time Doctor

In this WYTPOD episode, Harshit Gupta, Director of Business Alliances at WYTLABS, interviewed Robert Rawson, Co-founder of Time Doctor. Rawson traces his entrepreneurial journey from medicine to various ventures, notably founding Time Doctor as a solution for remote work productivity. Time Doctor integrates with project management tools, emphasizing transparency and accountability. Robert discusses the evolving landscape of remote work, predicting a continued shift with varying company approaches. The software focuses on user awareness, integrating features for detecting work-life balance issues. Robert shares entrepreneurial lessons, emphasizing persistence, strategic thinking, and financial management. The interview provides a comprehensive exploration of Robert’s journey, Time Doctor’s evolution, and insights into remote work dynamics, productivity strategies, and the future direction of the company.

Time Doctor is a time-tracking software that helps measure productivity and empowers everyone to perform at their best, whatever they work.

Robert Rawson
Owner and Co-founder of Time Doctor

Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of WYTPOD. My name is Harshit and I’m the Director of Business Alliances at WYTLABS. We are a digital agency specializing in SaaS and e-commerce SEO. And I’ve got Robert Rawson with me, Owner and Co-founder of Time Doctor. So those of you guys who don’t know Time Doctor, it’s a time-tracking software that helps measure productivity and empowers everyone to perform at their best, whatever they work.

So, a big welcome to you, Rob, and I’m so happy to host you today.

Yeah, it’s great to chat with you.

Before we dive into your platform, can you please let the viewers know a little about you and your professional journey? I’m curious to know how your medical background influenced your journey towards entrepreneurship and founding Time Doctor.

They’re not that connected because I started medicine and thought it was a great career. I didn’t quite know what I wanted to do, but I was very entrepreneurial. So, I had this strong desire to start a business. Also wanted to be able to travel around the world, and do whatever.

I wanted to have freedom, flexibility so medicine was great but I was trying lots of different businesses, even during medical school. I was trying businesses every year. I’d try something new. So, I had that entrepreneurial spirit and drive and I finished medical school, but. Then I was experimenting with some different business strategies.

So, one of them was SEO. I did a lot of SEO websites at that time, and I built the sites up. I was doing it part-time when I wasn’t working. I’d hire some people to help me build the site to write it. I did a website on satellite TV, which was actually in the US. I’m not from the US. We don’t even have satellite TV in Australia where I’m from.

But I did this website on satellite TV and it was good and made some money. That was my first money-making site. I didn’t even build the site. I actually, got other university students to help build it. And I didn’t know how to build a webpage. And then I got it listed on various directories.

And that was making some good money at one point was making like 8,000 a month, which was a pretty, pretty good. For a simple site at that time. So, it started from there. My entrepreneurial journey tried lots and lots of things. Eventually, for medicine, you have to focus your whole life on it.

It’s not something you can be like half a doctor. You’re not doing justice to your patients. You have to be doing the best you can for them. And so, I decided with all of these entrepreneurial journeys that I just had to focus on that. And so, I let the medicine go and it’s a great profession.

I think it is amazing, but it was just that desire to achieve in business that made me go in a different direction. And I ended up being in the Philippines. I had a team there because I realized it was just not scalable and working in Australia, was very costly and I just wanted to explore a different country.

So, I went over there, I had a team at one time of about 40 people in an office, and then I decided that, and this is very expensive, right? All this expensive office and equipment and at that point, the business wasn’t doing as well, like the SEO, just building a site. I was doing affiliate and Google AdSense.

It’s not a great branded kind of business. So, it didn’t have that long-term value, right? I made money for a few months and then the money went down. It wasn’t so great. And so, some of that revenue started to drop. And so, I need to cut my costs. And so, I got rid of the office and I also didn’t want to live in the Philippines.

I wanted to travel. So, I got rid of the office and I created the software, Time Doctor, to have my team working from home, and have a greater deal of accountability so that people could feel that they were working productively and understanding whatever I was doing while they were working remotely.

And that’s how I started it. It was quite a long time ago, like 12, or 13 years ago. Yeah,

Actually, the strategy that you followed so many years back getting work from a workforce from the Philippines is something that even I see nowadays most of the SEO agencies do has become, yes.

It’s been quite a trend now. So yeah, you’re one of the OGs. We’ve started it all together. So that’s brilliant, man. We’d love to know because, with Time Doctor you focus on empowering remote teams. How do you see the future of remote work evolving in the coming years?

Especially post-pandemic.

Yes. I think people haven’t figured it out fully. There are a lot of companies that are still trying to work out what’s their strategy and I believe not everyone’s going to be working remotely. That’s not the truth, but there is going to be a certain type of company that’s like ours that’s completely remote and there’s just.

It’s just, you don’t meet that offer and you might meet once, twice a year and that’s it. Other companies are playing it both ways and then they meet in the office once a week. I’m not a huge fan of that. And the reason is because what ends up happening is they go into the office once a week.

And then one person goes to another city and so they’re remote. And then some people don’t even want to come into the office once a week. That’s not that hard compared to five times a week, but they still don’t like that one time they have to commute and you don’t get the full benefits of, there are benefits of an office, right?

You have that collaboration, the spirit, the connection of everyone together, but if you’re only there once a week, you don’t get that benefit. Not that much. You only get a little bit of social benefit. Maybe you can have some meetings if you’re all there on the same day, but the problem is that.

It’s just starting to dissolve because everyone starts to think, oh, I’m going to, I’m going to go to another location. And then you end up hiring someone else. And then it just becomes like our company, which is we have people all over the place. And there’s no way we can go to the office because they’re too far apart.

We can’t even we only need like once a year, basically, or twice a year.

That’s good. And I’m seeing that trend as well. I was talking to the SEO head of Get Response. And, they have a complete global remote team. And that’s a Polish company. And they’ve been doing pretty great with respect to hiring.

Local resources and the new markets that they wish to enter. Everyone, like from the SEO strategist to the content writers for that specific country manages it well. So yeah, I do see that trend, and even people, I think companies are much more open towards the idea.

Yeah, I do understand that managing is something that is still a challenge. It’s not something that people have overcome a hundred percent, but yeah, it does require much more improvement on that front. And coming to that I’d love to know because Time Doctor does talk about an increase in productivity for its users, right?

What are the key elements of Time Doctor that contribute most significantly to this increase?

One thing is being aware of what you’re working on. As an individual, if you’re intentional and focused on that it increases your productivity. So, you don’t wander around all of these different projects and tasks.

The time record does have different ways of operating, but the main way that I’m using at the moment is the project and tasks. Method, which is you’re selecting what tasks you’re working on and I know it actually, I can see it on my screen right now. It’s the meeting that we’re on. And so, I’m intentional about it.

But if I was working on something else. That makes me remember that’s what I’m supposed to be doing. It also integrates with lots of different other tools, project management tools. So, you can select the task on one of those tools. And track time that way. It’s also that transparency and accountability with team managers and individual team members.

So, it’s providing a layer of where they feel more confident and where the employee or the contractor can. Prove and show that they’re working effectively with their team to the manager. So that provides a layer of trust and accountability that they just feel more comfortable with the work that’s going on.

So that’s another aspect to it as well.

And what strategies have been effective in promoting user adoption and ensuring a faster ROI for your customers?

So, ROI with our software itself, like how to improve the ROI with the software. Yeah. It’s great if you can use it.

We, our primary customers are using it in, and BPO is business process outsourcing. And then, as I mentioned I had a team in the Philippines and so you’re, you have a team that’s like remote and you’re not necessarily seeing each other. So, one best practice is you can actually.

See each other’s time. You can have, I have a combination of flexibility and accountability. So, we allow flexibility in our own company and, flexible work schedule. So, you can work the hours that you want to. But you also have accountability because you’re seeing how many hours. Each of the other team members is working and so that allows everyone is able to see what’s going on.

But the other thing is that if you’re tracking time to a specific project, you can see or tasks you can see look, this person or spending so much time on this type of. And then you can optimize processes in the company by saying this is not, this is taking too long. Can we automate that?

Can we use AI to improve it? Is there something else that we can do to improve what’s going on?

That’s great. And because you’re, basically dealing with employees’ data privacy and trust and security is something which does come along especially companies taking your software, subscribing to your software would expect that, right?

So, what measures do you take on that front to ensure that this, with respect to privacy?

Yeah, it’s always something that SaaS company software as a server has to pay increasing attention to because it’s such a critical thing. And so firstly, we have a team of CISO’s information security officers who will work on this in our company.

So, they do multiple things. So, they’ll look at training for our team on phishing emails. We just got our SOC 2 compliance. So, we’re, that also helps us all of those processes and procedures. And then in the software itself. We use crowdsourced bug tracking there are different crowdsourced software bug investigation companies, and they’ll get like 100 people to look at your software and see if you can find bugs. But we also have automatic tracking to see if there are any security flaws as well. That’s important. But that doesn’t catch everything you need to use these crowdsourced Services like bug crowd, for example, I think is one of them to catch any flaws you might have it’s the same thing that google and Facebook, etc because there could be flaws that you didn’t realize.

So, there are multiple angles that you have to attack this. You have to look at it from employee training. You have to look at it from the penetration of your software the best practices in your company, and all sorts of areas that you have to look at and make sure that you’re doing the best job you can.

All right. How does the time doctor approach differ from other time tracking tools in terms of fostering a positive work culture and maintaining work-life balance for remote teams? Is that something that you do?

Yeah, it is part of what we’re doing. We have a module in our software, that detects if you’re working too hard, or overworked.

Okay. And if you’re, there’s work, we call it the work-life balance issues module. So, you’re looking to see and I think HR leaders like this particular module, but it’s looking to see if the person is overworked or they need to be working too late. All these kinds of indicators might be a problem with burnout where so these things are.

Critical to making sure that they, that your team does have work-life balance. And also, for us as a company, we have lots of, uh, initiatives in that way. We have a sabbatical for 1 month where people can take a month off. We have paid time off. We have fairly generous paid time off.

And so, combining, we, I, that’s something I do believe in. I know some companies that you take like a company like Facebook in its early days, maybe not so much now, but if you look at Pesla, like they will work so hard and Amazon, the developers on that, it’s expected.

And I think certain people are happy to work hard. Long hours, 1800, but most people don’t want to work like that. They do want to have a life outside of work. And that’s personally what I believe in as well.

 Any programs that you run for your own like time doctors, customer retention, and loyalty.

We have a customer success team, which is a classic thing that you need to have in SaaS. Software as a service and they have meetings. They have quarterly meetings and monthly meetings. They’re constantly making sure that the customer is getting what they need out of the software. So that process and how they run things is critical.

And it makes a big difference to retention. Then you’ve also got to constantly improve the software, right? So that as you improve the software, then people see the value. You’ve got to demonstrate the value to them. All of these sorts of things, what you need to do to make sure that they’re not turning and they’re staying with you.

What is the churn rate? We have a lot of small businesses. The small businesses always churn a bit more than the larger ones. So, it’s not as good for the small ones. That’s a very common issue. For the larger ones, they just go out of business. The small ones, or they just, don’t have the money anymore.

They’re quite common, but for the larger ones, our churn rate is pretty good. And a lot of our large customers also will be expanding over time.

In what ways does Time Doctor utilize user feedback and data continually to enhance its software and address user needs?

We look at data from a user in multiple ways. We look at how they use the software, and what modules they’re using. Often, they’re logging in. We look at all the Google analytics. We look at our tools. We use segment, for example, and then we can use that to send the data in different ways to analyze what people are doing.

Yeah, we’re constantly looking at what our users are doing. We also do split tests. Conversion optimization is more on the marketing side, but it’s also inside of the product sometimes. So, we might do a split test where we send half of our customers to one version of the page and another half to another version, then we see what they do, and which one works better.

We also record videos of them looking, basically where they click on the page and record playback. Yeah. Oh, and that just gives you some insights because sometimes you see, oh, they’re trying to click here or they’re confused and it gives you a better idea of what’s going on.

 It’s brilliant. Let’s because, with your extensive entrepreneurial background what key lessons have you learned? That has been instrumental in the growth and success of Time Doctor.

There’s a lot, but the most important thing as an entrepreneur is to keep going and to be persistent. So, this is sometimes hard and then you have to know that you’re onto something though, before you’re persistent. So, if you’re persistent in the wrong thing that’s not great. It’s so many little things that add up, uh, and it depends on the stage of your business. For example, in the beginning. One of the most crucial things was the fact that we were, as we were building the software, we were using it ourselves and we were constantly improving it, and that improvement and that cycle of getting better and better really worked.

And the fact that we were, I was using my software and then I knew what I needed. That helped a lot. The hiring is. It’s critical, like getting the right people and that process. And also, obviously the financial management and, a lot of businesses, they go out of business they run out of money.

They either, if they’ve got venture capital, they borrow too much, they get too much money from venture capital, then overcommit, spend so much money. And then they can’t psychologically. Think about how they could reduce their expenses, but that’s a critical one as well. Yeah, and a business doesn’t start until you sell something.

So that’s like step one is what do you, what are you going to sell? Like a lot of people when they’re going into business, they think about the product a lot and yeah, the product is okay. In most cases though, where you should start is how am I going to sell it? And what am I going to sell? And you just.

 Perhaps something to get maybe a manual solution and you sell that and then you automate a bit more. Yeah, lots of different things to think about depending on the stage of business that you’re at. 

Yeah, how do you see Time Doctor evolving its marketing strategies to reach a wider audience or cater to new industry verticals in the future?

That also depends on where you’re at as a company, but for us, we’re focusing more on larger businesses and going up the market. And, in the beginning, were focused on all of the customers who were just coming to us from the website. They were signing up online. We didn’t have a sales team and that’s good.

To an extent, but there are some limits to that. And it’s not necessarily the right approach for businesses. For our business, we’ve realized that a Salesforce larger bit Salesforce is more appropriate usually for larger companies. And we realized that we need to get that right.

And that process, so meeting the needs of these larger companies that are on our platform and. Figuring out how to get more of them, is a different mindset to just creating a website and people signing up online. So that’s the transformation that we’re doing at the moment, getting the right people that will do that and figuring out what marketing and sales strategies will work for that.

I think we’re all coming to an end and I would love to have a quick rapid-fire with you. Are you ready for that? Okay. What one word do you want people to associate you with?

 Really? It’s about giving effective giving. I know we didn’t talk about that, but that’s something that I’ve realized for myself is that I can make a lot of money in my life and already quite successful, but it doesn’t mean anything unless you, by it’s really about what you can create with other people.

And that’s partly my employees and my family, but it’s also. About giving like I give to you’re from India. I give to an organization in India called Educate Girls. It’s about promoting the education of women in India and Africa as well. It’s a great charity. And it’s just really meaningful for me to give some of my profits to those kinds of causes.

And I came across that through A guy called Peter Singer. He’s got a book called The Life You Can Save. And it made me think a lot more about what could be my legacy. What could I do that I can make an impact in the world? And that’s one of the ways besides my family, it’s part of my legacy.

But another part is this contribution and giving. 

That’s nice. Any funny nicknames your parents, friends or even work colleagues used to call you?

Funny nicknames. They used to call me Doctor Rob, of course, like that’s that makes sense.

What was your last Google search?

Wow. I’m going to have to, I’m going to have to probably check that one, but I’m always searching for business class and like how I can get cheap business class tickets. So that’s probably my last. I was trying to get business class flights on points.

That was probably my last search.

All right. What’s something you could eat for a week straight?

Probably sushi or Japanese food in general. 

Okay. What is not a big deal to most people, but is torture to you?

Wow, that’s an interesting one.

I don’t like the news. That’s a bit of a torture because, um, it’s not, it’s destructive, right? It’s all this negative stuff. So especially video or the news. Yeah.

Okay. Now coming to my very last question. What is your hidden talent?

One of my best talents is really thinking about strategy and analyzing and using my brain to analyze deeply and also really thinking about numbers and deals and this sort of thing. So, it’s helpful if you really think it through and, um, yeah, if you combine that with the vision of being an entrepreneur, but you also careful and there’s a lot of entrepreneurs that lose money.

Because they’re not careful with how they spend their money. So, I think you need that combination. You need the vision and also be a bit careful with how you analyze your strategy and how you spend money. 

All right. Thank you so much, Rob for all the wisdom, all the information that you’ve shared about Time Doctor, your journey, everything.

I appreciate your time here. Thank you so much.

Yeah, it’s great to chat. Thanks.

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