It’s hard to believe YellowBird is now over two years old . I love to take a pause and reflect on the learnings we have had thus far and what big wins we have had. This gives the entire team the “fuel” to be ready for the challenges ahead.
Michael Zalle had the great idea in early summer of 2019- to create a platform that would enable EHS and Risk professionals to offer their services to companies that needed this work on demand. It taps into many of the mega trends around workforce development- it enables the Professional to decide what gigs are right for them. They have the flexibility to do more or less work in the locations that are right for them. For our paying customers they can get top quality assistance on their risk and EHS workloads without having to hire (and retain) a full time professional.
Some key learnings we have experienced:
- Start with focus- we signed up for and made our way through the COPLEX incubator program which forced us to focus on our key value propositions and do the research to define our business model with customer feedback in mind. While our vision is broad it was critical to figure out how to get started- what would our first offerings look like and how would we scale in our first year?
- Put strong foundations in place- As we put structure in place we designed this with the notion to scale to 100 -1000s of volume from where we were at the moment. An example is we put in place insurance contracts, governance, corporate incorporation that would meet not only the immediate needs but then not need to be changed for a few years. We are following the EOS framework- so we have identified how our strategies tie to individuals that have weekly goals that contribute to the quarterly milestones for success. This clarity lets us understand what aspects of the business are ahead or behind of our goals- and let us as a team help out to get the business back on track.
- Be flexible- while we have plans and execute to them we have also experienced (about once a quarter) a breakthrough that makes us re-evaluate a part of our strategy. We have to be open to those pivots as responding to them may make us even more successful. A great example of this is during COVID we had a plan to expand into Texas with 3 full time employees and an office. Given the pandemic and rampant uncertainty we decided to move ahead on building our platform as one “big” database embracing Professionals and customers nationwide – a pretty scary pivot three months into revenue – but one that has served us well. Our professionals outside of Arizona have received gig opportunities faster than that plan and we are diversifying our revenue base more quickly than planned. The best part is we have a cohesive team and a lot lower real estate costs!
- Invest in culture- we defined in December 2019 our five company core values: Be Awesome, Life Long Learning, Authenticity, Own It, And be spicy! We have not only kept these values going but they are thriving. We discuss a value each month in our leadership meetings. We use them as a litmus test for all hires. Employees at the 6 month integration point have a chance to add to our rituals and build upon the culture. We now have so many fun experiences: buying a stranger coffee, Spicy Mondays, Values wall, Small moments jar and more to come…
- Set aggressive goals- we had no idea our first year what revenue potential was possible – so we set an aggressive goal of $1M in first year revenue. Needless to say with a pandemic and impacts from federal and state lockdowns we didn’t hit this goal- but still had a great first year. We used this data then to plan a better forecast for 2021 and mid year focused in even better on our goals. The team is now so close to hitting these aggressive goals and it is exciting!
So where have these five learnings taken us? We have grown to 17 diverse employees with amazing backgrounds. We have over 250 customers on the platform and 575 match ready professionals in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. We are laser focused on our “chicken sandwich” – doing repeatable gig jobs with scaling partners. In the Risk management space this is loss control audits and in the EHS space this is mock OSHA inspections. We have completed two raises and continue to fund the company with our revenue growth. We will be hiring in the future so keep in touch if you think this is the type of adventure you are looking for.