Today we have selected Michael Eldridge to take his interview. He is the Chief Operating Officer At TME Group, Inc.
Tell us about TME Group, Inc.
To put it simply, TME Group is five distinct product divisions that are either launched or in development. They are all geared toward helping small business owners achieve their goals. We’re laser-focused right now on getLouie, our AI-driven text messaging platform that launched in late 2020. We’re currently working with our original client roster to hone the platform for a wide launch in Q4. By the summer of 2022, we will have launched two more proprietary platforms to create a suite of business solutions called responseCode200.
To go a little deeper, we’re a team of like-minded people who possess SaaS, marketing, and content expertise. We provide the best and most affordable tech and then help business owners find the product story and company narrative they want to promote on our platforms. More importantly, while the other two founders and I are obsessive and ambitious about our products, we know that none of it matters if we don’t treat our team and our customers with the utmost respect and support.
How are you and your team doing in these COVID-19 times?
We’re grateful and putting that gratitude into action. COVID has thrown chaos and hardship into the world, but we have navigated. We had team members fall ill; they’re all recovered and doing well. Our clients had their own lives and businesses to re-order, and subscriptions suffered. We had to adjust our workflow and priorities on the fly. Despite those obstacles, our business has never been healthier.
We know so many people are dealing with far worse. The death of loved ones, lingering illnesses, not to mention the financial toll that so many people are paying. As a team, we’ve set aside hours of paid company time to do whatever each member feels comfortable doing to help. Not just for our customers, but anywhere we fit as volunteers. The whole experience has affirmed our core values in a very profound way.
Tell us about you, your career, how you joined this company?
I have taken an odd path to my position with TME, but if you squint, it makes sense (at least to me). I started my career as a documentary filmmaker, working primarily in investigations, history, and social causes. It was a fantastic time in my life, traveling and shooting and creating and getting into all good kinds of trouble.
The 2008 financial crisis wiped my first company out, along with many of my friends’ ventures. I took a breath and stepped back. I wanted to diversify and expand my vision of what was possible in my life. I loved communication—I loved operations. Filmmaking demands both, but so do a lot of other businesses. I went back to study—management techniques, operational practices, all manner of communication paradigms! Within a year or two, I was working as a communication and operations consultant.
In 2019, I met my current partners, working as a content consultant for a side project. And we just clicked. Product vision, core values, complementary skill sets—it was all in alignment. So we banded together and launched this ambitious project. I focus on operations and serve as the front-facing partner for all of our work. And I still have a couple of films in the queue.
How has the Coronavirus pandemic affected your business, and how are you coping?
When it became clear that COVID would upend the world, we went remote immediately. We expected a drop in team productivity and business owners leaving the platform to save money. But it turned out that we were agile enough to survive, with a lot of communication and support. I give credit to my co-founders. They were swift to identify which division would yield enough revenue to keep our team intact and our products moving forward. We had to shift workflow and resources quickly, and it wasn’t easy, but we focused on the positive and didn’t waste time wishing the pandemic away. We knew our burn rate wouldn’t listen to our complaints.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
When we first went remote, I started studying productivity tracker apps, figuring that we would need at least one to keep the team accountable. However, one of my partners pointed out that I was going against my own maxim: “Hire talented and trustworthy people, set ambitious goals, then get (mostly) out of the way.”
That set my mind straight. We focused far less on productivity than on wellness. We worked to keep the team and our clients connected, offering support and an ear.
Our clients were appreciative that we went the extra mile to attend to them as people, not as subscriptions—and those bonds grew stronger. The team appreciated being able to adjust to lockdown life with freedom from constant oversight. And lo and behold, they were as productive if not more so than when we were all in an office. So we’re right on track for revenue and launch dates.
What lessons did you learn?
Trust in your core values. Trust in your team.
Another important lesson: agility is not a “helpful” skill for business owners. It is essential. There is a lot of talk about our “new normal,” but I have to ask: when have we ever had a “normal”? In my business career, we’ve seen both positive and negative changes that have completely upended how we work, interact, sell and buy, how we live.
The rise of the Internet. 9/11. Smartphones. ’08. These are all examples of changing dynamics that affected most business environments. It is guaranteed that there will be more disruption in the future.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
We believe we’re different than most companies. We certainly believe our tech is superior—I am so inspired by our developers and their constant sparking genius. But we also learn very hard into the notion that our customers are as much part of our team as any of us in the office. That approach is working for both our bottom line and for innovation. By creating a partnership with fellow business owners, we can be agile, which forges a loyalty you can’t buy with just tech.
There will always be someone trying to make a shinier mousetrap. And that product will launch…tomorrow. But you can’t create a product that easily disrupts respect and loyalty.
Your final thoughts
Our world is constantly changing, and that change is happening faster every year. So we’re not going to be looking for a new normal. Always being prepared for change is TME Group’s normal. We embrace it and look to make the most of it for our company and our clients.
- Spokesperson: Michael Eldridge
- Company: TME Group, Inc
- Website link: http://tmehawaii.com/
- Website link: https://www.getlouie.ai/