Today we have selected Olivier Godet to take his interview. He is the US Country Launcher of Springly.
First of all, how are you and your team doing in these COVID-19 times?
Thank you for this opportunity to give your readers insight into our business, particularly during this challenging time. Start-ups are, by nature, flexible. If I can sum it up in a few words: Organizations change, tools change, the ways we collaborate change. We adapt. Of course, it has been challenging. We had to react quickly and make difficult decisions, notably in terms of HR. But, in total honesty, I am not worried about us at all.
Springly is a SaaS platform that helps nonprofits and other membership organizations streamline their processes, diversify their revenue streams, and increase visibility. Our goal is to make nonprofits’ daily lives easier to spend less time on admin and more time working toward their mission. So, you are asking me how we are doing, but the real question is: how is the nonprofit sector doing?
What genuinely keeps me awake at night is whether nonprofits, who bring so much good to the world, will manage to overcome the numerous challenges COVID has created.
Tell us about you, your career, how you joined this company?
I joined the Springly team a few months ago. Springly was born two years ago, when AssoConnect, the French brand, decided to tackle the international market. Before Springly, I was piloting a critical partnership with a French insurance company, MAIF.
Arriving at Springly has been and still is a beautiful challenge. Discovering a different market maturity, keeping up with the extensive competition, and exploring distinctive software expectations have been keeping all of us quite busy! Our objective in France is to maintain 100% growth, while in the US, our objective for the moment is to exist and provide the best service possible for every new – and precious – client.
How does your company innovate?
Nonprofits use Mailchimp to send newsletters, QuickBooks for accounting purposes, Excel as a database, WordPress for their website, and PayPal for online payments. Each of these solutions is top of the market and is an undeniably excellent individual tool. But there is one thing they do not do: work together.
Springly exists for this reason alone. We offer a unique platform that allows nonprofits, clubs, associations, and other membership organizations to manage their daily tasks from A-Z and a centralized activity center. CRM, communication, membership management, accounting, events, website, you name it – all in one place. With powerful automation between each feature, manual tasks are reduced to zero. No more double entry. No more data import and export. No more copy and paste. We have based our technology on one principle: simplicity.
How has the Coronavirus pandemic affected your business, and how are you coping?
Even though our growth has slowed slightly, our main concern is whether nonprofits are sufficiently solid and financially stable to overcome the crisis. I come from a business consulting world, and there is an old saying that goes: “In a time of crisis, you have two options, either your clients reduce expenses and hopefully they’ll pass through, either they take advantage of a slow business to invest in technology massively, overcome the crisis, and get even more competitive after.” Sadly, some of the golden rules of businesses don’t necessarily apply to the nonprofit sector.
Why? Nonprofits are generally in a mindset of trying to stay afloat. It is difficult for them to find extra provisions in times like this. Of course, you still have large federations or foundations that have a financial safety net. Still, most organizations don’t have that luxury and often rely on seasonal membership dues to cover expenses. With COVID restrictions, the gathering of people has been impossible for almost a year.
They have lost 30, 50, sometimes even 80% of their members. What can they do about it? Not much. Federal or state aid has been scattered at best and often requiring a mountain of complex paperwork.
So, we have decided to rely on our financial strength, benefiting from recent fundraising of more than $8M, to adapt to every client’s financial situation. We have developed a free version of our software to allow all organizations to access the tools they need. For some nonprofits, it was truly a matter of life or death for their business. That is how we have managed to still grow during COVID. Growth in terms of customers, not in terms of revenue, you can imagine. But that’s a means to an end.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Growth, expansion, market penetration. Such considerations have been often questioned. When you face COVID just after fundraising and doubling your staff, yes, life is difficult. You don’t want to let great talent go, but we were obligated to slow down the recruitment curve. We managed to keep all our recruits and, we are happy to say that activity is ramping up a little.
Flexibility and innovation. These were the two keywords that got us through the crisis. Flexibility in the organization, remote work policy, and recruitment shift. Product and tech teams had to reinvent the way to work together remotely. Innovation was the second key to success. If you have the financial capacity, the crisis should be time to work on the product, develop, and look for new users and features.
Growth will always come again. And when it happens, we will be ahead of the trend, as we spent the time investing in better technology, making sure our product is not just up to the market standard, but more competitive than others out there.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Teams, Loom, Zoom, Slack, Google Meet, Aircall, Claap, you name it. To be fully transparent, we’ve tried them all! Little by little, we have found the niche tools that work for us: Video-chat with Google Meet, messaging with Slack, and all written documentation on Notion.
Such platforms were already used before the crisis but having 100% of our staff remote; we wanted to provide them with the best solutions possible. Once and again, flexibility is also key. Now that we are back in our offices, we have transformed into flexible hours: come to the office in the morning and work remotely in the afternoon. Such behavior was not foreseen before, and it has become a routine now.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Our goal is not to stay in the game but to change the game! The American market is structured differently from the French market. Usually, in France, we favor one product that does multiple things imperfectly, rather than in the US, most favor multiple products that do one thing perfectly.
Time has changed to propose one single platform addressing multiple needs perfectly finally. We do have competition, but everyone has flaws. For some, it lacks product features; for others, a lacks sufficient customer support. Indeed, we consider customer experience and support as a feature in itself. Nonprofits deserve the same type of support as any other business.
By the end of 2022, Springly will be one of the key nonprofit management solutions in the United States.
Your final thoughts
Nonprofits are doing a hell of a job. But the way we see nonprofits is dead wrong. Joining Springly, I had this TED talk by Dan Pallotta in mind. I highly suggest you watch it to understand better some of the social prejudice within this amazing sector. It has been our motivation ever since. We must provide nonprofits with the same tools as any large business.
Why would a sector representing more than 5% of the US GDP still have to struggle and do a balance sheet with Excel, manual bank reconciliations, and memberships with paper forms? Investments to streamline processes are seen as a waste of money. Why? Would a nonprofit be more or less efficient with fewer mistakes, simplified processes, more transparent management, and monitoring tools?
- Spokesperson: Olivier Godet
- Company: Springly
- Website link: https://www.springly.org/en-us/