CompanyWide

Nov 5, 2017

MEET ALEX NEARY, PRESIDENT OF COMPANYWIDE, AN ONLINE PLATFORM THAT HELPS CONSTRUCTION WORKERS DOCUMENT THEIR CAREERS AND COMPANIES HIRE HIGH QUALITY WORKERS THROUGH AN EASY ONLINE SEARCH AND HIRING PLATFORM.

GH: WHAT IS COMPANYWIDE?
AN: Companywide helps construction workers build and document their careers through a website which shows the value of continued construction education, and helps construction companies hire quality laborers by creating an easy to use online search and hiring platform.
GH: WHAT WAS YOUR EUREKA MOMENT: HOW DID COMPANYWIDE GET STARTED?
AN: I wish I could say there was one “ah-ha” moment, but CompanyWide is really the result of many little insights. CompanyWide has been a vision for close to five years, starting first from when I was working as a project manager at a construction company and could not find the right resource for a job position we had open. Since then I have been building on the idea, and now that I joined the entrepreneurship community at Boston University I finally have the resources to build the right team and launch the product.
GH: HOW DID YOU BUILD/ ARE YOU THINKING ABOUT BUILDING YOUR TEAM?
AN: BU has many different resources which connect students who are interested in working on startups. One of my advisors here, Ian Mashiter, suggested that I reach out to the Computer Science department and post internships to work at CompanyWide. Those internships turned into great relationships, and now we are a team of five working on the programming side of project. Other BU organizations have helped us find PR, marketing and legal team members. Through these groups we have pulled together a broad and motivated team.

GH: WHAT IS YOUR COMPANY PHILOSOPHY DRIVING YOUR COMPANY CULTURE?

AN: First we seek to bring value to our customers. We do field testing every week, and question everything about every detail of our product. If we believe something can be done differently to bring value to our customers, or can be done better, then we work to make it better. We also hold ourselves responsible to each other, and are constantly looking to improve. We run the project using agile project management, so we make every effort to set achievable task deadlines and stick to those and do bi-weekly retrospectives to tell each other what we can do better as a company. Those improvements can be anything from “don’t hold meetings without an agenda set” to “how about we go bowling this week.”

GH: WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM YOUR FIRST CUSTOMERS?
AN: So much. CompanyWide was in large part designed by its customers. It is not too much of an exaggeration to say that almost every button, every phrase, and every workflow is the result of one of our customers saying “I need you to do this.” When you can bring a product to a new customer who has never seen your platform before and they can use it intuitively, that is a very satisfying experience. 
  
GH: WHAT IS THE BOSTON ECOSYSTEM LACKING FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE?  
AN: Connections to BU. It sometimes feels that we are operating in a separate circle here, overshadowed a bit by the more famous universities across the river. Boston University is launching a major startup initiative in December, though, supported at the highest levels of the school administration and centered on a new building dedicated to supporting students who are looking to launch their ventures. We’re the 37th best university in the nation. It would be a real shame if the balance of the Boston startup ecosystem remained apart from the opportunities here.

 

GH: WHAT’S THE BEST/WORST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU WERE GIVEN ALONG THE WAY?
AN: The worst advice we got was that we were never going to get our product off the ground because construction workers are not online. We busted that myth the first week of user testing. Our members are online. It is us that has to make a website which is useful to their goals.
The best advice we were given was to get out of the office. Our users are in the field. We drive out to construction sites every week and ask people to test our platform. We have been out as early as six in the morning meeting workers at Bruegger’s before they go to work. Those customer interviews have taught us things and brought us connections which would never have happened otherwise.

 

GH: WHAT WAS THE BEST THING THAT HAPPENED TO YOU LAST YEAR?
AN: We launched our beta test and had our first paying customers!
GH: WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR COMPANYWIDE?
AN: We have several partnerships coming up that we are excited about. Right now we are mainly a jobs board, but our goal is to become a career planning platform that is able to show our users the potential of careers in the construction industry. Really, how many industries are left where a person with a high school diploma can go from entry level to making $80,000 a year within a five year period, all without taking on debt? The construction industry has an unrealized amount of potential. We are going to be a unifying resource which shows that.
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