In this Community case study, you will hear from Benny Hertach (Founder) and Corina Burri (Marketing Lead) of Swiss company, Ofri. Ofri is an online platform that brings clients and craftsmen together quickly and reliably. Ofri acts as an intermediary, the contract is concluded between the client and the craftsman. Enjoy!
Tell us a little background about yourselves and your company
Benny: I'm Benny, the founder, and CEO of Ofri. After working two years as a Business Analyst in a Swiss IT-consultancy, I took all my savings and plunged into entrepreneurship. It's been a hard and exciting ride ever since. Ofri grew slowly, but steadily. Until 2015 I ran my company as a one-man-show. I coded, wrote content, did the accounting and replied to customer calls. Today, I'm leading a small international team of 7 experts. We're working completely remote.
Corina: I joined Ofri in early 2018 as a Marketing Lead. After gaining experience in large marketing-teams, I was looking for a multidisciplinary role in a smaller organization. At Ofri, I'm responsible for Content Marketing, PR, SEO, and advertising.
Benny - why did you found Ofri?
Benny: At university, I wrote my master thesis about financing of online startups. I remembered one startup in particular, and that was the German MyHammer. In 2006, they brought a breath of fresh air into the industry. Maybe it stayed with me because there were also bizarre and funny jobs like "who cuts my grandmother's toenails?" Anyway, the concept really got me and I wanted to try if a two-sided marketplace would also work in Switzerland.
Corina - What are some of your biggest challenges marketing to a two-sided marketplace of craftsmen/service providers and customers?
Corina: There's the so-called chicken and egg problem. It's all about getting the balance right. We can only attract craftsmen if we have enough job volume and on the other hand, employers won't post a job without seeing craftsmen on our site.
We experimented with some paid marketing in the beginning, but then ended up doing mostly on Content Marketing since that worked best for us. We appeared soon in top positions on the SERP and got traction on Ofri. Further-on, users recommended us and word-of-mouth kept us giving more traction.
Thanks to the large amount of data we collect, we're always up to date about the current marketplace liquidity. If it tends to spike on one side or another, we're running marketing campaigns to either acquire more tradesmen or employers.
The biggest challenge is to acquire qualified craftsmen. On one hand, digitization in craftmanship still triggers skepticism. Many craftsmen are afraid of online platforms. On the other hand, the secondary sector in Switzerland has a very low unemployment rate (2.5% as of August 2019). Hence, craftsmen have enough work and are not necessarily needing a new source of jobs.
How did you first come to use Trello + Confluence? Which came first?
Benny: I started using Trello back in 2014. It helped me organize my thoughts and to remember deadlines. However, it really started to make sense, when my first employee Silvia joined the company. I could assign her tasks and she could track the status of the project.
As for Confluence, until 2018 our documents and our knowledge were spread over Dropbox, Google Docs, Slack and our brains alike. An employee proposed that we use Confluence. I was reluctant to introduce yet another tool, we already had so many. But it turned quickly out that Confluence was a game-changer. It was what we needed to organize our knowledge. We share testing results, document the product roadmap, brainstorm marketing projects, build our knowledge base and track features. It is our sole site to go to.
What teams use Trello + Confluence? What are some use cases?
Corina: Last year, we introduced Kanban to our Marketing and Development department. We've renamed the columns in Trello to "Inbox", "Backlog", "Doing", "For Review", "Done", "Rejected". Each Monday we define the weekly backlog of the Marketing and Software Development department. It helped us to focus on one single task and to get away from the feeling there-is-too-much-to-do-I-will-never-finish. Personally, It makes me really happy to stare at all the cards in the "Done" column each Friday.
As Benny said, we're using Confluence for the entire collaboration. Before, we had a Slack culture. We used to send long slack posts, which would vanish with time. But with Confluence, the information is stored in a centralized way and with the search function, it is easy to find it all the time. Since we introduced Confluence on April 2018, the number of direct messages on Slack decreased by 16%.
Does the Ofri team have any special team rituals or practices?
Corina: As a remote team, we have to work harder to get some "us-time". We can't run into each other in the break room. That's why we introduced a culture section in our weekly team meeting. Then it's all about our common Spotify playlist, exciting stories from last weekend, vacation plans, family and friends.
Also, for the past three years, we've conducted a yearly company retreat. For five days, we rent a flat and meet in one city. We work together on product development for the next twelve months. The cultural part isn't skimped on, either: over one and a half days, we indulge in a recreational activity, be it hiking in Malta, paddle boarding in Lisbon, or a conference visit to Zurich.
What are some things important to the Ofri team culture?
Benny: To me, it's important that my team is self-driven and is able to work as independently as possible. We automate many daily routines so that we can work as autonomously as possible. I appreciate my employees being candid with themselves and the team. It can be uncomfortable, like admitting mistakes or announcing not so good news. Or bringing up issues that might create tensions. But in the long run, being authentic builds trust and makes work so much easier and enjoyable.
I also encourage an adventurous culture. Our team shouldn't be afraid of coming up with weird ideas. They should dare to try something. Everyone should develop his gut about business decisions. The biggest risk is not taking one!