Posted on: 10/04/2016

Matt Rissell of TSheets - Simple Time Tracking Software

Matt Rissell

CEO - TSheets


Podcast Summary

Matt Rissell is the Co-Founder & CEO of TSheets (www.tsheets.com/). He shares a great story from his last company that led to the founding of TSheets Time Tracking Software. Matt talks about the early days of prototyping TSheets and wondering whether it could become a real business. Matt bootstrapped for a long time and he shares some great tips on building a startup to last.

Podcast Transcript

Scott Orn:

Welcome to the Founders and Friends Podcast with Scott Orn at Kruze Consulting. This week’s guest is Matt Rissell, founder and CEO of TSheets. Matt is a hilarious guy. It’s hard to keep a straight face when you’re actually talking to him. He has built one heck of a company. He bootstrapped it for a very very long time. Eventually took money from actually Summit Partners. A friend of mine over there is actually on the Board and Matt’s just built one heck of a company. It’s for time tracking software. So if you have hourly employees, TSheets is a great service to use. We recommend it to all of our clients at Kruze Consulting and lots of good feedback on the product. Thanks for your time Matt and I hope the audience, I hope you guys really enjoy the podcast. Alright. Welcome to Founders and Friends with Matt Rissell from TSheets. Welcome Matt.

Matt Rissell:

Thank you very much. Thank you for having me. It’s great to see you.

Scott Orn:

Matt was telling me before we started rolling here that his voice is like extra deep today. Extra persuasive today.

Matt Rissell:

I don’t know about extra persuasive but it’s a little extra tired. So I apologize. I don’t really sound like, who’s that singer?

Scott Orn:

Frank Sinatra?

Matt Rissell:

Yeah. Something like that. Anyway, it’s been an amazing event here in Maui. And late nights and long days and a lot of time spending just chatting with people and relationships and of course that’s a little hard on your voice.

Scott Orn:

Yeah. We’re at ExpensiCon in Maui and Matt’s been kind enough to take some time for us. So maybe I know we want to talk about kind of general advice for entrepreneurs. But maybe just spend a few minutes talking about TSheets and you had this amazing origin story that you actually talked about at ExpensiCon. Can you tell that? That was hilarious. You had like the crowd going crazy.

Matt Rissell:

Oh funny. I will share that. But before we do, shall we describe where we’re sitting right now?

Scott Orn:

Yes.

Matt Rissell:

So he said that we’re in Maui and you just kind of touched that but what he didn’t say is that we’re sitting on this elevated deck with kind of this glass in front of us and then it’s all open above the glass and we’re looking directly out onto three infinity pools in a row that go down into one big infinity pool. Below Page 1|6 that is the greenest most beautiful grass and then this beach. It is take your breath away gorgeous. Palm trees everywhere. I mean what a great opportunity.

Scott Orn:

Thank you David Barrett from Expensify.

Matt Rissell:

No kidding. I mean unbelievable. So a little bit about TSheets. So we’re a software for small and mid-size companies to track time for payroll. So typically if you’ve got any of like the 20-employee company or a 5-employee company or a 2,000employee company and they needed to track time against projects, tasks, costumers, codes and [inaudible 00:02:25] wants to have a GPS location that kind of a thing. And then you use that time to process payroll. That’s exactly what TSheets does. Some of our biggest partners are Intuit and so we’re the number one add-on for Intuit globally. The number one rated globally. I mean that’s just a quick picture of TSheets.

Scott Orn:

Yeah. At Kruze Consulting, we’ve seen it with some of our clients too have kind of the corporate staff but then they have people in the field who are providing some type of service and that’s when they’re bringing in TSheets to actually track the service personnel his time essentially.

Matt Rissell:

That’s exactly right. Perfect example of that is like a pool service company where they have to come out and they’ve got to track the time against each customer’s job code and let’s say that there’s a dispatch person or something back at the home office. They want to know where everyone’s at to be able to schedule jobs.

Scott Orn:

The GPS feature is freaking awesome. Everyone go to TSheets.com, there’s this amazing map that shows like people driving around in LA and it shows where everybody is. Also what they’re billing and all that kind of stuff. That was really smart.

Matt Rissell:

Thanks for saying that. Not everybody thought we were smart at the beginning. But yeah it turns out that there was a really huge demand in the marketplace.

Scott Orn:

Do you mind telling them just the quick origin story? Like it was really funny. Don’t be modest. It was really good.

Matt Rissell:

Well, how TSheets got started is, I owned a company prior to this. We had four locations, four retail locations and some mobile employees and some salespeople and one day I’m working late because that’s what small business owners do, right? And this gal, she’s like 17 years old, as honest as you could possibly imagine. You give her $10,000 cash and she would never steal anything from you. So anyway, she writes down her time on her paper time card in a manila folder and then walks out the door and I thought to myself, I say, goodnight. And I thought to myself, I have never checked one of my employee’s time cards. Should I go? I’m not going to go check. Blocking over and I looked at her time card and I looked at my watch and I could not believe it. She’d given herself 15 minutes which doesn’t sound like a big deal except that … Page 2|6

Scott Orn:

Over and over again.

Matt Rissell:

I didn’t think everybody was dishonest. We’ll call her Sally. And so anyway, I did a recon mission the next day where I actually hid out in my truck and I watched the employees leave and I ran inside to check their time cards. A little bit over the top but sure enough, my hypothesis was validated where …

Scott Orn:

I could just visualize you sitting in a car. Hanging out in the parking lot.

Matt Rissell:

Yeah. That’s exactly what happened. And so anyway, I had an issue but I really thought it would be an easy problem to solve. So I went to Office Depot and I told them what I needed. Four locations, mobile employees, et cetera and she’s like, oh I’ve got the perfect solution. So she walked me back over to this isle where she handed me this big metal square thing where you put your piece of paper into it and it goes chi-ching. Does a timestamp as well. But it’s not what I’m looking for. So I went to Google and nothing existed. So I called my buddy and he built this basic version for me. After my bookkeeper processed our very first payroll, we’ve saved a couple of thousand dollars in our actual payroll.

Scott Orn:

Like right away? Like ROI right away?

Matt Rissell:

Very first time. She looked at me. She said, this is absolutely amazing. Can you sell it? I said, I don’t have any idea. It was before software as a service was a word and so I called my buddy and now my co-founder Brandon and I said, Brandon, can we sell this? And he said, oh yeah.

Scott Orn:

That’s awesome. That’s really cool. And so in all your website the accounting channel’s been really powerful for you it looks like. Like you have a bunch of like integration with QuickBooks and you have a bunch of QuickBooks ProAdvisors listed on your website. It seems super dooper smart.

Matt Rissell:

Well, yes it has been both an accounting software packages. So you look at QuickBooks, Xero now and basically we’re really focusing on becoming an open platform but also the actual accounting firms themselves is a very powerful channel. As a matter of fact, our fastest growing channel. It’s insane.

Scott Orn:

Yeah. And that’s Kruze Consulting. I mean we didn’t quite realize this maybe a couple of years ago. We have so much influence on what our clients are choosing as systems and that’s actually one of our big value. We tell them what to use and it’s very seamless for them. They know they’re getting kind of expert opinion on something so that makes total sense. You said something kind of interesting in the talk yesterday where and [inaudible 00:06:47] back to like just entrepreneur advice, you’ve raised a venture capital round but you hadn’t even touched it yet. How did you get the company going? Did you bootstrap it? Did you fund it yourself? Like what did you do?

Matt Rissell:

So very beginning yes. I funded it myself and then I raised just a little bit of seed capital. Very very modest amount in 2008 which we had burned through that 12 months in no time flat. And so from there, we bootstrapped which have been down to the bare bones minimum and just funded ourselves until 2015. Page 3|6

Scott Orn:

Wow. So you went seven years between a round. That’s amazing. But don’t you feel like … did that instance who’d kind of the right methodologies, the right values inside the company like no dollar’s wasted kind of thing?

Matt Rissell:

I mean lean and mean is something you hear all the time and we make very frugal decisions and I think that’s what you have to do whether you have funding or you don’t have funding.

Scott Orn:

You just got to do it. You also said you’re in Boise right?

Matt Rissell:

Yes.

Scott Orn:

What are the pros and cons of Boise? You said it’s one of the best places to live in the world.

Matt Rissell:

The quality of living, there’s no question. It’s absolutely amazing. And there’s also a huge cost structure advantage over let’s say a company in Silicon Valley. Our overall cost are somewhere around 1/4th to 1/5th of a company that’s actually trying to start in Downtown San Francisco.

Scott Orn:

Yeah. I can totally visualize that. In terms of entrepreneurial advice, like in early days, once you and Brandon got the prototype going, what was some of that work for you? What was like a good just experiment that went right?

Matt Rissell:

No question. So we had four miserable go-to-market failures. We don’t have time to go into this now. I can describe them in detail. They’re painstaking failures and to the point where we were almost basically going to shut down the company and I read a book called the Lean Startup and I’m sure you’ve heard of it but basically the concept of just making little bets and then using analytics to determine whether or not something worked or didn’t work is something I can’t recommend whether you are running a retail store or whether you’re actually building a software company.

Scott Orn:

Was there one experiment that jumps out in your mind where you’re like, maybe you tried actually reaching out to five accountants or maybe it was the GPS feature. Was there something that really kind of clicked for you guys?

Matt Rissell:

The very first test. I mean it’s a perfect example was we had a hypothesis that our customers lived inside of QuickBooks whether that’s where they were and so we did this basic file integration just to see and our customers absolutely went crazy.

Scott Orn:

That’s awesome. That’s amazing. What’s something now that you’re like scaled, you’re a big company, big startup, what’s something that’s working for you now? Like is there something that you’re like last couple of months I’ve started doing this and it’s really been helpful?

Matt Rissell:

One of the things that I think helps is your core philosophies of who you are as a company and who we are, it’s very authentic. And so one of my recommendations just for any size company really but also it’s important [inaudible 00:09:45] is really knowing who you are because it determines how you make decisions. Page 4|6 It’s a small company. I mean something that like Kruze Consulting, that you guys actually provide, I can’t stress enough. There’s so many entrepreneurs that have … what happens is they get into starting their company and they get completely distracted with financial applications, with doing their books, trying to make things balanced. It’s ludicrous. I don’t even know why they spend time doing it. It’s stupid. It’s not core to your business. Just give it to a consultant. Give it to a consulting firm.

Scott Orn:

That’s us.

Matt Rissell:

That’s exactly right. And let them take care of it. That way you can focus on your … whatever it is you’re focused. Your products, whether it be sales but I promise you, if you’re focused on bookkeeping, you’re not going to succeed. It’s absolutely impossible.

Scott Orn:

I totally agree. We don’t even take clients who haven’t raised more than a million and a half of seed capital because they’re too frugal actually and so they will waste too much time on the books and we know they’re not going to be as successful. So every dollar of those dollars should be spent on building product/market fit which is something you guys did very quickly and got there quickly. What’s the future hold for you guys? What’s your big new initiative?

Matt Rissell:

I don’t know if anything’s particularly new initiative. It’s staying the same. We’re staying laser-focused. We’re growing at 100% year over year. The market is absolutely gigantic. It’s an execution thing and we think that we can sustain that for the next three to three and a half years.

Scott Orn:

That’s amazing.

Matt Rissell:

It’s crazy.

Scott Orn:

And you guys did QuickBooks and now it sounds like you’re getting in really well with Xero as well which is also very strong globally. Is that part of the plan?

Matt Rissell:

Yes. It is part of the plan but we do have an office in Australia already. We’re currently used in 112 different countries.

Scott Orn:

Holy cow. That’s amazing. We’ll kind of wrap it up here. Thank you for taking your time. Maybe tell the audience where they can find you and how to get a hold of someone on your sales team or they want to give it a spin.

Matt Rissell:

Look, if you’re a small business and you have hourly employees or you need to do project costing. You want to know what time is allocated, we’d love the opportunity to serve you. You can find us at TSheets.com. T-S-H-E-E-TS dot com or I mean you can ping me on Twitter. It’s just @MattRissell one word on Twitter or on LinkedIn. Would love to connect with you and just ask if you have any questions. Don’t be afraid to ask any questions.

Scott Orn:

Awesome. You have a really good story and it’s really kind of inspirational to just know you built this out of your own need and now the world’s using this product, using TSheets. It’s amazing. Page 5|6

Matt Rissell:

Thank you so much for having me on your show.

Scott Orn:

Awesome. Alright Matt. Thanks. Take care buddy. Page 6|6

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