What trends should business leaders pay attention to and how can they prepare for the new normal?
Over the past year our world has changed drastically. As companies and their employees emerge from the pandemic, what changes will be permanent and how will the workforce adapt.
TravelBank CEO Duke Chung joins Scott to talk about the trends he sees continuing and how business leaders can prepare for the new normal. Duke founded TravelBank to make expense and travel management easier and more efficient for business professionals worldwide.
Watch the full session: https://bit.ly/3865IKu
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Scott Case 0:00
Welcome to Founders Focus, a podcast made for founders by founders. I'm Scott Case, CEO and co founder of Upside, and I created Founders Focus to help share free resources and actionable advice. Together, we're building a community for business leaders, entrepreneurs and founders to come together to tackle today's challenges. This podcast is powered by my awesome team at Upside. Please visit foundersfocus.com to join the live video sessions or to catch up on past topics.
Scott Case 0:27
Very excited to introduce you to our co-host for today. Duke Chung, who is the co-founder and CEO of TravelBank, based in San Francisco, and Duke is a serial entrepreneur used to be based in the Washington DC area. And we've compared notes on how far away our various homes where we lived are to each other. And TravelBank simplifies business travels business spend with corporate expense and travel management innovations. And in fact, TravelBank and Upside are partners on the expense side of things. With that, I'd love to turn it over to introduce himself, and then we'll dive in.
Duke Chung 1:07
Great, thank you so much, Scott. And it's a pleasure to be here. Thanks for inviting me to participate, really, we're very honored, and also very appreciative of our partnership. Thanks for mentioning that as well, with Upside and TravelBank. So excited to be working together. And in many ways, more than one as we can see here.
Duke Chung 1:32
It's a pleasure to be here. My background is actually pretty straightforward. I started my first business in my dorm room back in 2001 in a time where it was sort of a similar kind of an economy that was in a very difficult place. And it was a .com actually back then, but I didn't know anything otherwise. Because being in school, I guess you're sort of shielded from the realities of life, and all we wanted to do was to go build something. So I started building customer service software. At the time, we were writing software out of our dorm room and sold it out of our dorm room. Back then, there was no AWS, the hosting was done out of our dorm room with our big servers and that's how we got started to basically figure out how to host software remotely and write software at the same time and sell it. So that business grew over 12 years, and subsequently in 2013, we sold our business to Microsoft, which today has become part of the Microsoft CRM dynamics customer support product line, which is now part of Microsoft Cloud capabilities. And a lot of my colleagues that worked with us along that journey, many of them are still there at Microsoft today. So it was a very, very rewarding and a very fulfilling journey for us. When I got to Microsoft was really how I discovered the expense and travel business. We were large users of Concur, we had never used a product like Concur before, or at least I haven't in my first business. So it was the first experience for me and we really just felt there was a huge opportunity to build something better than what was available in the market at the time. And so we set out to create TravelBank and I moved from the east coast to the west coast to start this business. And that really was to experience what it would be like to build a business in Silicon Valley. Because I had spent 12 years reading about Silicon Valley, but I thought it would be very fun to try to build one that is inside of the valley and see how that experience was same or different, and lots to share there. Because I probably am uniquely able to share both experiences, given what we've done. And that's led us to here, really focusing on building expenses, and working with building travel. Even partnering with travel companies like Upside. It's been our strategy, especially over the past 12 months. And I think it's a very exciting time, especially as we begin to see this recovery and talk about what's going to happen to the future of work and how this is all going to shake out. So that's a little bit about myself. I'll turn it back to you, Scott.
Scott Case 4:49
Oh, awesome. Thank you and I want to come back to your college dorm room experience. And as a parent who is investing a lot of money in dorm rooms currently that aren't being used, because there are children in our house taking their classes. Were you actually like hosting servers in your dorm room? And how did that go with like the university where you're sucking up a lot of bandwidth? Like, what was that like? To your point, it's a little different now, but I'm just curious as to how you managed to get away with it for the number of years before you were able to get out?
Duke Chung 5:28
That's a good question. I think fortunately, back then, we're looking at almost 18, 19 years ago, I think there weren't enough tools the universities could use to make them sophisticated enough to figure out who is really using a lot of bandwidth. In actuality, given that we were so early, I think we probably took a very fraction of the actual bandwidth that my roommates were using downloading mp3 and watching all sorts of things online that was actually probably consuming most of the bandwidth. So fortunately, we were able to maybe get around it. But you're right, when we started, we didn't have any capital, we were students. And we were running a T1 line. Well, we weren't running it, but the dorms were running a T1 line. It was very, very fast compared to what was generally available, you probably remember this, Scott, from your days at Priceline, I mean, most of the world was on a dial up. And, it was fascinating. I mean, we could see things like real time quotes for pricing, which we take for granted today, but back then there was something called, which I think is still available today, but majority of systems were on delay quotes for stocks and it was a 15 minute delay. But being on a T1 line, you could see stock pricing 15 minutes sooner than most of the world could see it and imagine that as an advantage.
Duke Chung 6:47
So we just thought that by building our technology on a T1 bandwidth, we could build the technology on that foundation, and really look at some features that we thought the rest of the world would catch up to eventually. And a good example of that is a client side chat versus a website web native chat. Most of the chat products back then like ICQ yahoo messenger were built on a downloadable client because of performance reasons. But because we were on a T1 line, we introduced to the world, one of the first web enabled chat experiences that didn't require a client site download. I know today it sounds like that's not that big of a deal, but 20 years ago, that was a big deal, just being able to see that advantage.
Scott Case 7:35
So how did you transition out of that? You built a team, you said you spent 12 years doing it, what were those times like? You were obviously college students, you didn't have a lot of management experience, so just take us through a little bit of how you transition out of one state into leading a company?
Scott Case 7:58
Yeah, great question. So I think when you're building these businesses the first time, everything's a new experience. It's very fun and it's very rewarding, but it's also very challenging. Because you're trying to figure everything out. So fundamentally, I think at the heart of being an entrepreneur, you're really very good at problem solving. And I say that only because the challenges continue to change along the way. And most challenges are first time challenges. As you're growing your business, you see new problems, and there's problems everywhere, it's not just in your product or handling customer support issues, it could also be how you hire or manage your employees, it could be how you raise capital. Things fall apart everywhere, you prop one thing up and three things fall down. And so fundamentally, I think at the heart of entrepreneurship, it really is about persistence, around problem solving, and the agility of the founders to be able to overcome these challenges along the way. Some are small, some are big, most times you can't see all of them, and so you just have to get really good at doing that. And I think if your mindset is there, then you can continue to find ways to scale your business up. And that was our journey.
Duke Chung 9:21
In the beginning it's a lot about just product, build a product that delivers value to your customers. It takes a while to figure that out. Some people are better at it than others. But that sort of sense of knowing what your customers want is really, really important. And my test is always, will they pay for it? If they pay for it, it certainly is a strong data point. And then as you scale your business up, you have to think about how are you going to make money? How are you going to sell it? How are you going to distribute your products? How are you going to distribute it in a way that's more cost effective maybe than how your competitors are doing it? And that becomes a next phase of challenge. Of course, along the way, you're going to have to build a team, you're going to have to be able to recruit a team to help you do this, and typically as we all know, people are expensive. They're the number one cost for companies is actually people. So you're probably going to have to raise capital, in order to attract a team to build the product you want to distribute - sort of in that order.
Duke Chung 10:25
And all of these are kind of new challenges that a founder or an entrepreneur goes through in this journey to build something amazing over time. And it's an iterative process, it just keeps on scaling, scaling, and maybe you build another product and do it again, and just kind of do it within the same organization. So that was our journey in Parature. What I learned through those years, and I learned a lot and we made a lot of mistakes along the way. And what I had hoped for in TravelBank was really to learn from some of those mistakes and not do them again the second time around, do it better.
Scott Case 11:05
That's our goal, right? Make new mistakes, try to avoid the old ones.
Scott Case 11:10
So tell me a little bit about your TravelBank founding team? In particular, I think you have one or more co-founders? How did you go about bringing them together? Was that you? Was that somebody else? I know you left Microsoft to go start TravelBank? Did you bring anybody with you? Talk a little bit about that piece. Because I meet with a lot of founders who are solo and they're early enough where they could bring a co-founder on and sort of what was that choice like and how is that played out for you?
Duke Chung 11:47
Yeah, I think finding a good co-founder can be very important. My first business, Parature, my co-founders were really my college buddies. Why was that? Well, probably those were only people I knew at the time. So I didn't really have a whole bunch of people to choose from, but they were people I spent a lot of time with, and at least I knew who they were, I knew the kind of people they were and we were all sort of figuring this out together. And that's not uncommon. I think for founders that start that early, you read a lot of stories, and that's usually co-founders are roommates or somebody.
Duke Chung 12:23
So TravelBank, it was a very different story. None of my co-founders for my first company joined me in TravelBank. Now, you're probably saying, oh my god, Duke, that must be something about you, that nobody wants to join you. Well, the truth is, most of my co-founders, after we sold the company, took off to go do something else. Some of them went to go pursue their passions, some of them told me that they would never do a startup again, some of them were completely burnt out after doing Parature. And I have every combination of every story you want to hear.
Duke Chung 13:01
So therefore, I was on my own when I started TravelBank, and I brought one person over to be my co founder, who was Reid Williams, my co-founder and CTO. Reid was one of my senior engineers that I worked with at Parature, he joined us very late actually, right leading up to our acquisition by Microsoft. And that was the time I was working with him on a project, on a new product we were delivering, so I spent a good amount of time with him and was able to use that time to really know who he was. And, so when I decided to start TravelBank, I actually reached out to him to see if he was interested in pursuing an entrepreneurial journey with me for my second business. And, I remember, I'll never forget this call, he was in North Carolina at the time. And he said, Duke, if you still want to do this business in 24 hours, call me and I will be out in San Francisco within a week. So 24 hours later, I called him, I actually called him on Skype because at the time I left Microsoft, no income, I didn't want to spend any money, so I used Skype to call him. He was a little bit annoyed by that because he had to get on WiFi to talk to me. And, I told him that I was in. And he said if I was in, he would come in on his promise. One week later, he came out with his whole family. He has four kids and his wife and the dog. Everybody came out in one big trailer, showed up in front of my house in San Francisco. And he said, I'm ready to get started. And that's when I knew we were going to go build something amazing, because that was the sort of the co-founder I was looking for, in a commitment to make something happen. And, that's how TravelBank started. So Reid was my primary co founder starting this business, and we're a very, very good team together.
Duke Chung 14:55
I think as we think about the complementarity areas in a co-founder. I think the things that are important are finding areas where your co-founder can do things that you cannot do well. And Reid is my CTO, so he's very technical, he understands architecture, he knows how to scale products, much better than I can. So that's a really good complimentary operational fit.
Duke Chung 15:20
I think temperament wise is also really important to think about in a co-founder. You know if you got two people who are hotheads and together, it's never going to work, most likely only one of you is going to be around at the end, which is what you read about mostly, so finding somebody who could be your yin and the yang I think it's really important, because there are going to be these situations where it's going to be very tough, you're going to have a very tough day or you're co-founder is going to have a very tough day. And they need somebody there that they can talk to, because you may not be able to talk to your employees about some of these issues, but talking to your co-founder is different. So I think that's really, really important.
Duke Chung 15:55
I think a co-founder that shares the mindset of a hustle mindset is really important. Because these startups, your primary advantage is your ability to hustle. And you want somebody who can keep pace, or you can keep pace with them. I think that's really important. And most people think this is a very short term goal, but in reality, as we all know, these startups are actually marathons. These are 7, 9, 12, 15 year journeys, and can you keep a hustle mindset going for 10 years? Wow, that's really what you're signing up for. And so that's very important.
Duke Chung 16:34
I think sharing a common vision, of course, vision will change, potentially, as the world changes and relevancy changes, but, at least you can come to some common ground around vision is really, really important.
Duke Chung 16:47
And I think most importantly of everything, if nothing else of the first few I mentioned, the most important thing is trust. I think that fundamentally you have to trust your co-founder, your co-founder has to trust you with high integrity. And that's the foundation of a very good partnership. I think your co founder doesn't have to be a superstar in any particular area, but they definitely need to be somebody you can trust. And you have to be the same to them as well. So I feel like that's probably most important when you look for a co-founder.
Duke Chung 17:25
And I encourage people to look for a co founder, I think it's more fun to build these businesses with somebody, and you probably scratch your head and say, well, Duke, why would I do that if I can do this by myself and own all the equity? Sure, equity preservation is, of course, top of mind, you don't want to split your equity with anybody. But you also have to remember that these are journeys. These are journeys that more than the money you will make from these journeys, a lot of it that was most rewarding for my first experience was doing it with a group of people together and overcoming these challenges that I talked about. Being able to overcome those challenges was really the most fun part that I remember more than the check that Microsoft wrote us at the end. Sure, that was awesome, too. But, what did I feel that was most fulfilling? Well, it was actually knee deep with your team overcoming small and large challenges along the way, and being able to see through them in order to build to the next level. And that turned out to be what's actually most addictive through these entrepreneurial journeys. And what I remember the most was more about that. You can say that of sports teams, you can say that of debate teams, these experiences that you go through with people through these challenges are really I think what makes this all worthwhile. It's what this journey is all about. And, so you want to pick people to go through these together with you. And that's why it got me back in to this. Like I said, it's highly addictive, once you get a feel for that kind of success, you're gonna come back and want to do it again.
Scott Case 19:06
I like your point about both the trust and having experience. I am always cautious about founding teams where this is the first time they've worked together or they have only known each other for a relatively short period of time. Trust tends to get built over long periods of time.
Scott Case 19:28
There was a question in the chat about, how do you measure trust or how do you know that you've got it there? And I think the other thing is, this is a long game. And so thinking in terms of is this somebody that I want to spend the next five to 10 years, 12 - 16 hours a day, seven days a week with or not? And certainly that's how I would answer the question of how do you know that this is the right person, it's you better be there and to your point about that complimentary piece is really, really important because it helps to provide support. So do you have a litmus test? Do you have a piece of advice for someone who's looking for a co-founder? You talked about trust, is there one thing or one reflection that you have on what has made your partnership with Reid as effective as it has, and how that trust has been built over time?
Duke Chung 20:29
Yeah, I think it's one of the things where, well, first of all, you yourself have to be very high integrity and a trusting person as well, because you yourself can only measure yourself as a baseline to measure others against. So if you're not that type of person, then probably hard for you to gauge finding somebody who can be trusting.
Duke Chung 20:51
So number one, you yourself have to be a very good person and in good integrity and think clearly about things. I think with that mindset, the way to really pick a co-founder is not maybe so much about the technical proficiencies or their ability to raise capital to compliment you, or all of these things that are more tactical. What I would do, if I wanted to get to know somebody is not much different than finding a new friend. Go for a hike together, go for a bike ride together, right? Go on a trip together somewhere, hang out with them. And, I think that is really where you will get to be able to spend more time with them where you can observe them, you should be able to get a good sense of compatibility. You can observe the things they do, simple things like, at a dinner, at a lunch, how do they treat people. Those are things that are more important. When we do these offsites with our teams, of course, we go through and run our KPIs, and we present things, those are easy, actually, because those are all numbers. But what we try to do is actually, even our offsites, not necessarily with my co founder, but with everybody is really focus on just spending time with each other, really focus on building that trust with each other. That time is so valuable, you don't get that time in the office to do it. And the only time you can do it is really in these events. And that's what we always strive to do is use these opportunities to build these relationships.
Duke Chung 22:27
And trust, like you said, Scott, I think is built over time. You may not be able to have a good assessment from one or two hikes or walks together. But as you talk to them more, as you encounter your first few obstacles together, maybe your first obstacle is raising capital, maybe your first obstacle is releasing your first beta product, during that experience, you will know what kind of person you're working with. And if you can't figure that out, then well, you might have other things you have to figure out first before you're capable of doing this. So I think generally, you have to keep your eyes open and assess that and let them assess you too. It's symbiotic. I always say like, when you're looking for a mentor or mentee, some people approach me and say, Hey Duke, can you be my mentor? Well, it's symbiotic. You have to actually accept them as a mentee too. And vice versa. When I go look for a mentor, I can't just pick somebody and say, Hey, will you be my mentor? Well, they have to actually feel the same way about you. That's why mentor mentee relationships, similar to co-founder relationships, they're symbiotic. You have to be able to offer something and expect them to do the same back to you.
Duke Chung 23:31
So it's the first part of the journey, it's very, very important to pick somebody that works out very well. And you hope it will last. My experience is that many times at the end, only one co-founder is there. Why is that? Because as you go through this journey, there are so many things that you cannot predict - people's lives changes, your business changes. And typically, my experience when success comes is when the changes happen most rapidly. In reality, when you're struggling together, you're going to stick together, it's actually when success comes, people start to think differently. As a result of that, problems emerge between the partnerships. People maybe want to spend a lot of money, the other person doesn't want to spend a lot of money, and that will create friction. So oftentimes with success, ironically, maybe only one person is left and that's just how life is right. It's never a perfect linear line. And so I think most people should expect that. And these co-founders are all just part of your journey. Many people are going to come, and many people are going to go, including your team and your staff. They will all contribute to your journey in some way in some timeframe. And hopefully, as you scale your business, you will attract more people than less people leaving, but the truth is many of your founding team may not be there five years in or 10 years in, including your co-founder. So that's my experience,
Scott Case 25:03
I think you touched on a few very important things. I'll use this to talk a little bit about our businesses, but, travel is another way to do it. How people deal with, inevitably travel has its own rhythm and chaos to it, and that's a quick way, like a hike or a bike ride to run into some things in the world and see how aligned you are with things. Even just how you communicate about it is an important piece.
Scott Case 25:33
I want to shift gears a little. You talked about bringing the team together, and the theme that I want to make sure we get to today. So I'm gonna jump to it now is, you talked about moving to San Francisco, and you wanted to build your company there, and you had read a lot about Silicon Valley and building spaces there. And here we are in the pandemic, where I think you said 50% of your employees are outside of the Bay Area at this point. Talk to me a little bit about what you're seeing in the shift of people from an office standpoint, from a culture standpoint. How has that changed and how do you see that playing out over the next couple of three, four years? And you're obviously talking to a lot of other CEOs around you, and San Francisco, I think, perhaps more than other cities has seen a significant shift in the bigger companies around you saying you can work from anywhere sort of forever. And so that has created a lot of different experiences. And I'll just leave that with you to think about it. Here in DC, we have a lot of employees whose spouses work for the federal government, and so that has lots of rhythm to it, right? But if all those people suddenly said, Yeah, we're out of here, that would change the dynamic of our market versus one of the things that makes it a great startup space is a lot of spouses might have a more stable, consistent long term job and allows another spouse to step out and maybe take a risk. And so there's a positive dynamic about that. As you look out at this new remote world, what do you see as both the big challenges and the big opportunities?
Duke Chung 27:19
It's a great question, Scott, and I'm sure you guys are seeing similar things, maybe different. I think every geo is a little bit different, as we're observing, just even within the US. I think,San Francisco, I've been out here for four or five years, and I came from the DC area. So I certainly know the DC landscape very well, although it's probably changed quite a bit, I'm sure, hopefully, even for the better. But San Francisco really is a very unique place. I think part of the reason why so many people left during the pandemic is, number one, a lot of people come out here joining a startup, they don't have families, they're by themselves. They could be an engineer, product person, salesperson, you know what have you. And the problem with San Francisco all these years has been it's very expensive to live here. extraordinarily expensive. I mean, you get paid well, but look, at the end of the day, after rent and food and Ubers, people in reality aren't really saving that much money. And when the pandemic happened, we observed the quality of life in San Francisco went down very drastically. You have no restaurants, there's no bars, everything is online ordering, you can't go out, there's curfews and then you may not want to go out, right, because you want to be safe. And so then the question is, why are we really here in San Francisco? And why am I paying this high rents and not getting the quality of life that I was used to before the pandemic? So I think what you saw as a result of that was given that the workplaces or companies were willing to embrace this work from home or remote work culture, as a result of the pandemic and the type of pandemic that we had, what you saw was that people were taking the opportunity to go somewhere else, presumably a higher quality of life, whether that meant moving to Park City, whether that meant going to Tahoe, whether that meant going to Hawaii, whether it went to Southern California, or even Florida, or somewhere in the Midwest, different experiences, because what was a particular reason to be here in San Francisco and to dial in from a Zoom or a Google Hangout when I could do that from anywhere in the US. So you saw that happen.
Duke Chung 29:36
And you saw this take place from large companies all the way down to startups, people really left, half of our company is gone, actually. Now there was about a quarter of our company that wasn't here already, because we had already had a very distributed workforce, including our engineers and product teams, they were around the world. But for those that were here in San Francisco, that remaining team, about half of them now are distributed around the US in various places.
Duke Chung 30:04
And what we learned through this process was that we always had a hypothesis that by doing remote work only, the productivity would go down. And we have been ingrained in this culture of a nine to five workplace. And nobody was really willing to test anything other than that, because it worked. You know, why would you go test something different if something really works? And the larger the company, the more conservative they are, they don't want to make any changes. So what the pandemic did was it created a nine to 12 month petri dish experience, where we were forced into a new mode, and forced to survive, to figure out how you can be as productive as possible in a new setup. Everybody scrambled to set up home offices, everybody scrambled to turn on the internet, to make sure it works. Everybody scrambled to add collaboration software, to connect with other employees to minimize loss of productivity. Companies notorious for giving foods and fitness perks and wellness perks, well guess what, people want that now at home, not only they want that, they also need calm to calm themselves down because it's so stressful, just given the instant change.
Duke Chung 31:11
And this led to, in our experience for TravelBank, really a boom in the expense business, particularly because now you saw expenses increase as a result of this democratization of spend. A lot of the spend happened on a company level, but now employees are responsible and on their own to figure out how they can take care of themselves and get all the spend back to the company, manage back to companies and reimburse on a timely way. So as our travel businesses, and I'm sure Upside the same sort of pin down as a result of the pandemic of no travel. In our case, we were able to take advantage of this to increase our expense business and really focus on being relevant in this new world of a more democratized and distributed workforce.
Duke Chung 31:58
Now, the question is, we've been in this long enough, what happens next? What you're starting to see are companies like Salesforce, which announced yesterday that they are permanently moving to a remote workplace environment, even through the recovery. You've got companies like Google, Twitter that have relaxed their policies on forcing people to come back. And I think what people are really beginning to realize is that sure companies have priorities in getting their work done and meeting their goals and revenue targets on a quarterly basis. All that, nothing changed really there. Everybody wants to make as much money as possible and build something amazing. But what the companies are beginning to realize is that they have to be empathetic to the employees during this time. We are in a very stressful time. Many people don't have a job. Many people are worried about their families, they need to take care of that first, more so than anything else. So forcing employees to break a lease because they're in Park City right now to move back instantly because they have nine months left on their new lease, or maybe an Airbnb that they're in or spending time taking care of a loved one with their families, being forced to come back to San Francisco is not what people want to hear right now from their employers. They want employers to be empathetic to their situation, and give them enough time to take care of recovering through this pandemic in more ways than just business. Right? Take care of their families, take care of their health, through this process, make sure they're safe. Because without that, what's the point of dragging everybody back to San Francisco and forcing them back to a mode that they are even more stressed about doesn't make any sense.
Duke Chung 33:43
And so I think that's what people are looking for from their employees right now. And as a result of that, I think this shift to a remote workforce environment may have some staying power. I believe we will move into a more of a digital first work from anywhere world, where companies will provide more flexibility for their employees to to be able to work on their schedules and focus on especially what I would call in less structured environments, which I would include all startups and tech companies alike, let people focus on the outcomes, manage their own schedules. At the end of the day, we're all measured by outcomes and results, right? You manage your own schedule to figure out how to get your job done. You take care of what you need to take care of and everything's good, right? No longer is it that you must be here from nine to five. If you have a very structured business, maybe that makes sense. But most businesses aren't that structured where you're working in a warehouse or in a manufacturing plant. So in our businesses, as long as you are continuing to maintain a high level of productivity, and you're responsible about your work, and you're delivering to your KPIs and their results, then do what you need to do.
Duke Chung 34:55
And I think Silicon Valley, for better or for worse, not just Silicon Valley but technology companies in general, have embraced this beginning with the unlimited PTO. A lot of people scratch their head and say why would you allow unlimited PTO? The reason why companies provide unlimited PTO is really about the fact that the employers are willing to invest into your time to let you do what you need to do without having to measure you on a time clock. Only so that when you're focused on the business, you can turn around and invest your time back into the business appropriately. So it's a yin and a yang. That's why most employers allow for unlimited PTO, because they want to be accommodating, they know you have things you need to get done and they respect it, and they want to embrace it. And that's the way that companies investing into you for PTO, in hoping that by doing so you would do the same for the company and prioritize and do the best work for the company.
Duke Chung 35:56
I think that unlimited PTO now is more scaled out with this remote work model, and has lasting power. Because with the same mindset, you're really doing the same thing. You're basically saying to your employees, I don't mind if you're in Tahoe, I don't mind if you're in Vermont, as long as you're productive and getting the results, you do what you need to do and focus on delivering and giving back to the company appropriately as well. And so you're basically accommodating in a much bigger way. So it's definitely really interesting times for us.
Duke Chung 36:27
And for travel just a little bit about that for Upside and TravelBank, I think it is an exciting time to be in travel. Why? You might not think this makes sense. But I actually believe that as we move to work from anywhere in the world, there's really only two things you need, probably need a Zoom Unfortunately still, but we've gotten so used to this to be able to do this. And I think you need to be able to travel. I think travel will actually pick up more than pre-pandemic. Why? Because when your employee is in Jackson Hole or in Las Vegas or in San Diego working, when you need them in your office, they're not going to pay for their travel, you're going to pay for their travel to come in because you need them to be here for three days to do a boot camp. And I think as a result of that, travel spend will go up to accommodate for that travel. Historically you would ask your employees to be near your office, and most employers don't cover commute to office, on the job description it says we expect you to be in San Francisco for this job. Most people move out here for it, they live close to the office to accommodate the employers needs and you work nine to five. I think post pandemic as we begin to shift into a work from anywhere world, the result of that will be more online collaboration. Also, you're going to see some increase in travel, and you're going to see smaller offices, you're not going to necessarily need to have very, very large offices anymore because your employees aren't even here. Why would you need such a big office. You may end up having smaller offices where you can make available to your employees to work when they choose to go to those locations. And if they're not there, you're going to have to consider covering their travel costs. But you're going to save a lot of money on commercial real estate. And you may actually ship a lot of that money over to travel. That's what I think. But I'm just one person in this looking at the data, it will actually be interesting to see what actually happens over time.
Scott Case 38:30
Well, listen, I appreciate all that. And for those of you who aren't familiar with San Francisco, I don't know if Salesforce ever finished their tower, but it's like a defining element of the skyline in San Francisco, and for them to make the decision that they're shifting is a real telling sign, certainly among the tech companies. And when you talk about the competition for talent, just like getting your dry cleaning done or having lunch catered to you, etc became standards, I think this is going to become a standard that's going to drive a lot of other folks to have to adopt it. Because if TravelBank or Upside doesn't want to accommodate our employees who are all over the place, they're going to get another job that does, so the talent side of the equation continues to play a role there. So, Duke, thank you. We got a ton of questions we didn't get to, but really appreciate your point of view. Thank you for joining.
Scott Case 39:27
Thanks for tuning in to this episode of Founders Focus. What did you think? You got any feedback for us? Got a topic that you'd like us to discuss or maybe a future co host? We'd love to hear from you. Just hit me up on LinkedIn at T Scott Case. And join us at foundersfocus.com to stay up to date with the latest episodes. And join us live every week at our Founders Focus sessions. Hope to see you there.