Being a broker was more difficult than the brothers originally anticipated because their prospective customers had it so hard. Being a small employer isn’t easy, and being the HR person at a small employer is downright TOUGH.
Alex and Brian observed that sales, marketing, customer service, etc often gave employees great software tools to get things done – even at small employers. Too often, though, HR at those small employers did not. It struck them – why not? Why shouldn’t HR also be able to provide great software to employees?
Well, the first problem was that the software they had in mind didn’t exist. The second problem was that Alex and Brian knew NOTHING about building software.
Undeterred, Alex started reading about software development and came across a blog called Joel on Software written by the well-known software developer Joel Spolsky. Joel claimed building good software takes 10 years. In the words of Joel:
“Make a ten year plan. Make sure you can survive for 10 years, because [even] the software products that bring in a billion dollars a year all took that long. Don’t get too hung up on your version 1 and don’t think, for a minute, that you have any hope of reaching large markets with your first version. Good software, like wine, takes time.”
This was inspiring! If it took 10 years to build good software, surely that meant Alex and Brian could learn what they needed to know during that 10-year journey.