David Sokolow is Co-Founder and CEO at an Instagram analytics tool called WeFind. When we call to interview David, it’s 4.30pm London time, which makes it 8:30am where he’s based in San Francisco, California.
When we remark about it being early morning in start up world, David mentions that we are his third videocall that morning. Which kind of makes sense. The more we get into the call the more we realise that David is the dynamic Co-Founder of a company which isn’t afraid to break the traditional “rules” when it comes to how, where and why they work. Including how they use ibLE to hire Account Managers, that might otherwise cost them a ton of overheads, office space and even accountancy fees if they were traditionally hiring across continents.
ibLE: In your own words could you tell us a little bit about WeFind and what you do?
David: WeFind is a tool that helps make influencer marketing easier for brands. Over the past few years influencers in spaces such as travel, fashion, interiors and so on have started to hit meaningful traction. Brands want to work with them but trying to work out which influencers are worth speaking to is manual work and it’s very complex. A lot of people don’t know what they’re doing. WeFind saw the opportunity to provide simple software tools to make the process more straightforward. That’s something that’s really meaningful to us.
iblE: What does the team setup look like at WeFind?
David: We’re a pretty small team, eight people total and we have employees around the globe. We have people in the US, the UK, Israel, Australia, India and the Philippines. We’ve really embraced the remote strategy because it’s a super efficient way to grow a team and you can get access to really great people at significantly less cost than you would otherwise. It just makes a lot of sense from a business perspective. The biggest challenge is that you don’t necessarily get the office culture, but it’s funny, one of the things that I hear from people who have offices is that you go to the office and people either have their headphones in or they just don’t go in as much generally. So it’s like yeah we could invest in an office but how many people are actually going to go there?
ibLE: What was your reasoning to start working with ibLE for some of your staff needs?
David: I was looking for some help in recruiting people who were like PAs, in that they had a little bit more presence. The biggest challenge you often have with freelancers is that you can find someone on Upwork and they can do the work, but it’s hard to find people you can actually put in front of a client. You want to feel like you’re having a conversation with a real person, that they’ll be smart but that the presence won’t be lowered. What we were actually looking at was bringing on Account Managers in house but that was going to be really expensive to do locally. I emailed my network and found that there wasn’t really a solution for the type of staff I wanted and then I came across ibLE. I figured it would be a good shot and I’ve been very impressed since.
ibLE: What type of role have your ibLE staff taken on for you?
David: I use each ibLE person for say 10-20 hours per week and it’s typically based on what we need from a client perspective, often full service account management. For example, one of our products is outsourcing the entire influencer process to take away a lot of the manual work so our ibLE Account Manager is helping to identify influencers. She also helps work with me on strategy and even leads our customer meetings. I’m in the meeting, but I sort of let her lead the whole entire run through. She also does analysis, client follow ups and everything else that you would need from an Account Manager.
ibLE: Given that ibLE is traditionally known for providing virtual Personal Assistants, how has it been using ibLE to find remote Account Managers?
David: I think being a PA is one thing where you’re managing someone’s life which can become very, very complex and booking travel and stuff like that but in this instance she’s had to learn about influencer marketing as a subject. I’m counting on her to help us renew clients and I’ve received multiple direct compliments from customers on phone calls about her saying “wow she’s great”. It’s worked out well and I’m happy to keep on using it as we grow, certainly for the account management role. We’re even testing a new ibLE person out for a sales role over the next couple of weeks. With every ibLE person I’ve worked with it’s been very consistent, the ones I work with are exceptionally hard working, very respectful and eager to do everything. There’s parts of this job which aren’t fun but they have an incredibly positive attitude and are just very hard working.
ibLE: How do you find the ibLE system? ibLE bills time in five minute increments so as that only the time used is paid for.
David: I trust the system from an hour perspective. I’ll look at the hours occasionally and make sure there’s not anything reported there that didn’t happen but I haven’t dived into it in depth. I pay through ibLE which is a benefit a lot of people don’t think about as it means I can have an employee in the UK as a US company and it’s just another vendor. I don’t even think about it or have to deal with taxes or pricing transfer fees or anything like that.
ibLE: Are there any disadvantages to using a third party service do you think?
David: With any remote employee I think the only challenge is it’s hard to feel like someone’s really a part of the company, but I don’t really feel that as much with my ibLE person as they do a really great job and I feel like we’re on the same team. She’s worked with me long enough that I feel like she’s really engaged and we have really great relationship.
ibLE: How is it different to using a service such as Upwork?
David: There’s tons of services out there that are virtual assistant services but the problem is they don’t spend as much time filtering who the people are. As a result, you end up in all these instances where for example I was trying to find a Freelancer for a digital marketing role and on Thursday, she said yes and then on Friday she was like, no, I can’t do this. I had another Intern who started for two weeks, who came to meetings and then said that her class schedule was too much and she couldn’t do it. With a service like ibLE I say what I need and they’re like “Okay David I’m going to find you someone”. It’s very, very helpful and the quality is just exceptional consistent, everyone I talk to is very well polished and has the right attitude, which is really, really important. A lot of those other sites rely on user reviews and the problem is that people always want to be nice – I don’t think I’ve ever given anyone less than five stars as I don’t want to impact somebody’s career. In ibLE’s case they’re filtering every person to a quality standard so you can and do say no to people. As a result, that’s what really makes a big difference to me and that is ultimately, the reason why I go back.