CEO Q&A: Peter Coppinger, Teamwork.com

Business, Interviews | Wed 8 Nov | Author – Business & Finance daniel mackey and peter coppinger teamwork.com
Daniel Mackey, CTO/Co-founder/Leader Developer and Peter Coppinger, CEO/Co-founder/Lead Developer

Peter Coppinger, CEO/Co-founder/Lead Developer at Teamwork.com, talks transparency with staff, new product launches and new company campuses.

Q. What are your main priorities and goals in your role?

I want to always be able to communicate and engage with the team and lead the people that will shape and grow this company.

Q. What are your biggest challenges as a CEO?

I guess the biggest challenge is to set your priorities. There are so many things we’d like to do or at least get started on but ultimately, you have to pace yourself. When you first start out you have a vision for where you want your business to go. It’s only when you see it starting to take off that you really get excited and dream even bigger. You want to take it even further but unfortunately you can’t do this overnight.

Q. How do you keep your team/staff motivated?

Firstly, I think you have to have an ethos your team believe in. For us, we want to build great products using the best technology. Every day, our work ties into that way of thinking. My co-founder and I try to lead by example. We’ve set out our company values that support this ethos and we are constantly reiterating them to the team. So far, it seems to be working and I think we have a very motivated team who want to do great things.

Secondly, transparency with our people is really important. We try to minimise the hierarchy that cripples so many organisations; we encourage people to take ownership of their work and pitch ideas when they feel something can be improved. We have an open book policy so everyone knows where we’re at in terms of revenue and targets, etc. The idea behind this is to encourage the team to think like an owner and go the extra mile. That way everyone reaps the rewards and you’ll always be motivated to do your best work.

Q. What are the challenges facing your industry going forward?

I guess, like everyone, acquiring and retaining customers is definitely a challenge but one I feel we’re managing quite well. Our industry has become saturated with competitors, so it means customers have lots of options and they can easily move on from you if you’re not giving them what they need. It means that you really have to go the extra mile in terms of how you provide a service; you have to listen to customers and excel at customer support and customer success. After a poor customer experience in the early days with one of our now competitors, my co-founder Dan and I always believed in going the extra mile to help our customers. This is something that has filtered down to every team member as we’ve grown.

Q. What new trends are emerging in your industry?

Remote working seems to be more and more ubiquitous. Teams are no longer in just one place. They’re all over the world, and this is a big challenge for managers. They need tools like ours to manage their teams.

It’s more digital than ever before. We built a project management tool, a help desk and a real-time messenger but we’re now seeing demand for integrations with tools outside of these that customers already use in their workday.

Customer experience: this is probably a trend in every industry but I’ll speak for our own. When your products operate and react in real time you need to be able to reflect that in every other aspect of the business, most notably in how you support your users.

“We try to minimise the hierarchy that cripples so many organisations; we encourage people to take ownership of their work and pitch ideas when they feel something can be improved.”

Q. Are there any major changes you would like to see in your sector?

I think I’d definitely like to see greater uptake in the adoption of tools like ours. You have the power users who love to use something like Teamwork Projects for example, but then you have people in organisations who, unfortunately, are completely resistant to change and are reluctant to move away from more traditional methods of working.

Q. As an employer are you finding any skills gaps in the market?

Yes. For the last number of years we’ve been looking to hire developers. With demand being so high for that skill set, it’s been one of our biggest organisational challenges. We’re definitely hiring if anyone is looking!

Q. How did your strategy develop in the context of the banking crisis and economic crisis?

We were in the very early stages of our company then. At that point, we were just building tools for ourselves and they happened to catch on so we didn’t necessarily strategise for that. From day one we were a business.

Q. How will Brexit affect you, or have you started to feel the effects already?

We haven’t started to feel the effects yet. Like many companies, there’s a whole lot of uncertainty around it. For us, the UK accounts for about 8% of our business so we just have to do more in-depth planning for it. We also employ staff from the UK so it brings uncertainty in terms of work visas and travel restrictions.

On a positive note, I think that Brexit is bringing with it new opportunities, particularly in the financial services sector. And, whilst Ireland is certainly being looked at by the big players in this market, we also need to attract financial services professionals, including our diaspora, so that there are no skills shortages.

Q. How do you define success and what drives you to succeed?

For me, success is being able to see my dream of owning and running my own business come to life every single day. What drives me to succeed? My family.

Q. What’s the best advice you’ve been given, or would give, in business?

Think big, attack a market and work like a dog!

Q. What have been your highlights in business over the past year?

Lots to choose from but moving into our new office (Teamwork Campus One) outside Cork city and seeing a whole bunch of new faces starting and flourishing at Teamwork.com. Most recently, the award for Tech Persons of the Year for my co-founder Dan and I at the it@cork Leaders Awards.

Q. What’s next for your company?

Product number four is on the way. Lots of new team members and Teamwork Campus 2!

Q. What opportunities or plans for growth do you see in 2018?

Build out our sales team and build even more on our enterprise offering.

Q. Where do you want your business/brand to be this time next year?

We’ll have our fourth product added to our suite and we’ll have started work on our fifth. I’d also like Teamwork.com to be even better known across Europe.