Welcome to the Overshare, where we talk with other startups and small companies who are breaking the mold and revolutionizing tired industries in unexpected ways. Each week, we’ll feature a different company and focus on a specific aspect of their operation that sets them apart from the pack.
Our office manager, Katya, is fairly superhuman in her ability to balance HR and finance duties with constant insane supply requests from the team (nap pods, every flavor of Oreo imaginable, a dog, “good lotion”, the list goes on). But she can only spread herself so thin. That’s where Managed by Q comes in. We adopted this fellow startup’s service to manage our office cleaning and supply replenishment a few weeks ago and haven’t looked back since. Our friends at Casper and Bark & Co have done the same.
Managed by Q seamlessly integrates software with a real-world service, which makes for a sort of operating system for the office space itself. Requests are made from an in-office iPad and app to coordinate office visits from handy people, cleaning staff, and Q support. This puts everything in one place, rather than Katya calling a slew of vendors individually to get stuff done. And we can now enter ridiculous requests through a screen vs. our go-to “buy this Katya” Slack channel. Service from Q is fully customized and can happen on an as-needed or recurring basis, so we can set up weekly office cleanings as well as satisfy demands in the moment (toilet paper and beer). Best of all, Q ensures that its Operators are seasoned pros and provides transparent communication between the office manager and the Operators to ensure that tasks are always completed as needed.
We talked to Managed by Q co-founder Dan Teran about how his company is changing the way offices are run.
Startups are all about solving problems. There are a bunch of companies out there already tackling home and office cleaning, like Task Rabbit and Handy, but Q is a bit different. What inspired the idea for Q? Is there a story behind the endeavor?
It began when my co-founder and I first moved into our own places in Brooklyn. Saman moved into a condo in Carroll Gardens and was dealing with maintenance on the board, I moved into a low income co-op in South Williamsburg and was dealing with an awful management company. We started thinking about what it would look like to create an operating system for the physical space, and ultimately found a huge opportunity in offices. We use great technology and amazing people to create a frictionless experience for Office Managers, or anyone tasked with running an office. Beyond the scope of services, we’re different in that we develop a deep relationships with our client, and really own the management of cleaning, supplies, and maintenance - our product is basically an operational office, not a one-off service.
We started thinking about what it would look like to create an operating system for the physical space, and ultimately found a huge opportunity in offices.
Karma provides a WiFi service, but our real overarching goal is to get people connected seamlessly, without the endless BS you experience with mobile and broadband internet providers. You guys provide a cleaning service, but what’s the driving mission behind Q?
We’re focused on building the operating system for the physical world, and creating meaningful employment for all of the stakeholders in our ecosystem.
The Q iPad at the Karma office
What challenges have you faced in having two sets of employees, your in-HQ employees and your out-in-the-field employees?
Honestly, working with a diverse group of people it is one of the most beautiful and rewarding parts of the business. We sit at a really critical cultural intersection and we can only be successful by creating opportunities for everyone involved. The challenges are the same as you face in any business, we are defined by our ability to attract, motivate, and retain exceptional people in all types of roles, just like Karma.
Getting a startup off the ground is hard work. What’s the most insane thing you guys have had to do in the process of getting up and running?
For the first 6 months of the business we all cleaned offices all night more often than not. Things go wrong, you fix them. That’s pretty much starting a business in a nutshell.
The Q HQ (that's a lot of Scrabble points)
Things go wrong, you fix them. That’s pretty much starting a business in a nutshell.
The integration of a technology connection and human connection seems crucial to your business—lots of moving parts. What was the biggest challenge you faced in getting the app, the hardware, and the people to all sync together?
The proliferation of smartphones is really one of the most profound developments of our time. Every applicant for a cleaning position walks in the door with a supercomputer in their pocket, amazing. Coming from backgrounds as product designers, we think about the whole operation as one product. You can’t code human behavior, but you can standardize most parts pieces of the business, and empower people to make good decisions when it counts. That’s the approach we take. By creating intricate feedback loops and operational redundancies we’re able to deliver a real world service that feels as frictionless as software as a service...that’s the goal at least.
Some of the team
Managed by Q has done a lot to lighten our Office Manager’s load—do you see Managed by Q totally taking the place of office managers for some companies?
While we’re thrilled that our product is making an impact on Office Managers lives and workloads, we know enough of them to know that their role extends far beyond maintaining the physical space. Our hope is that by taking on the operations of the physical office space, Office Managers can focus on functions more core to the mission of their businesses. We find they usually play a much bigger role in companies than simply ordering supplies or calling handymen.
A lot of love happens at Q
If the world were managed by Q, what would it look like?
I’m going to quote our Growth Manager, Kelly Parker here: “If you’ve ever seen Beyoncé waking up in the morning, something like that.”