By Chris Casacchia, California Business Journal.
Some startups — like employee productivity software company Prodoscore — are in a rare position to take advantage of sweeping shifts in the workplace.
In five short months, the coronavirus pandemic has emptied office towers, corporate campuses and shared work spaces, sparking lingering questions when tenants will return, or if they will at all. While some economic ramifications of COVID-19 won’t materialize for years, the fast-spreading contagion has already reshaped the workplace.
Irvine, Calif.-based Prodoscore, which makes software built to analyze, score and improve workforce productivity, anticipated the migration of office work to remote work since its inception in 2016 — yet not at this accelerated pace. Before the outbreak, roughly 80% of U.S. employees worked in an office. “We’ve always felt that 50/50 is where we would normalize in the next four to five years,” says Sam Naficy, who took on the chief executive role in January. “That got sped up rapidly because of COVID.”
As more workers became remote, Prodoscore saw a significant spike in adoption and trials as managers looked for avenues to ensure staff productivity. Between March and May, the company added 30,000 users—a mix of monthly paid subscribers, trials and beta customers. It had 3,000 at the end February before the outbreak hit the U.S.
Prodoscore’s flagship software offering improves sales team performance — and time management — by leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning to measure thousands of daily activity points across business applications, such as customer relationship management platforms, Google Cloud apps, Microsoft Office365, and other communications tools, such as LinkedIn, video conferencing and email systems.
The data then generates a productivity score, or a “Prodoscore,” which is presented to both the employee and manager to track and improve performance over time.
“CEOs, chief revenue officers and management want to have visibility into what employees are doing,” Naficy says, “and if you can do it in a transparent way that’s not invasive, not Big Brother, you’ll get adoption from all sides.”
Prodoscore is geared for any company with a sales team of 10 or more, utilizing any phone system and business intelligence tools.
“We’ve always been living with lagging indicators,” says Naficy, who considers Prodoscore’s technology “a leading indicator, capable of churning out insights on employee activity by the minute, well before crunch time at quarter’s end.”
Naficy joined the company 18 months ago as a board member and investor. The mandate at the time was getting the product commercially ready for market, integrating functions and launching pilot tests with potential customers, a process that culminated about a year ago.
“I wanted to make sure the product had efficacy and usability in the marketplace,” Naficy says. “My own personal capital proved that out.”
His leadership roles at other Software-as-a-Service firms over two decades made Naficy a favorable choice to lead the company. Yet it was the product’s validity that won him over.
“Based on that being proven, I was comfortable and confident in joining the company as CEO,” says Naficy, who is a large shareholder of Prodoscore.
In May, he led a Series A round for Prodoscore with serial entrepreneur and venture capitalist Troy Carter, an early-stage investor in Uber, Lyft, Dropbox and Spotify. The duo met and became friends attending meetings at the Los Angeles chapter of the Young Presidents Organization.
“There is an important – a vital — product here that businesses need to maximize productivity of engaged employees and maximize revenue, especially after Covid-19,” says Naficy, a confidence that led him to court friends and family as potential backers.
The company counts 25 U.S. employees and contracts about 20 developers offshore in Sri Lanka.
Prodoscore will use the funding of more than $1 million for growth capital and product monetization as it builds industry awareness and customers, while trying to change some perceptions of long-held corporate dogmas related to work productivity outside the office.
A recent Prodoscore study added credence to its cause. “An average employee from home clocks in around 8 a.m. and productivity begins around 8:30 or 8:40,” Naficy says. “In the office, an employee clocks in around 8 a.m. and you see productivity begin around 9:30 or 10.”
The report, which compared employee productivity in March and April to the same period a year ago, evaluated 100 million data points across 30,000 users.
Among other interesting findings:
–Workers from home were 47% more productive amid the pandemic.
–Telephone calls were up 230%.
–CRM system activity increased 176%.
–Email activity was up 57%.
The report didn’t address another big benefit of remote work: time saved during commutes, which often eclipse an hour of travel each way in grid-locked markets, such as Los Angeles.
Though the migration of the remote work force across the nation is materializing sooner than Prodoscore envisioned, the company has positioned itself for “the new normal.”
“We will not go back to the pre-COVID ways,” Naficy says. “There will be a blend of in-office and remote workforce. And because of that there is an inherent need for productivity tools.”
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