High growth demands right skills, flexible mindset
WORKING IT: Providence-based Swipely earned a spot at No. 3 on Inc. magazine’s 2013 “Hire Power” ranking of the top seven job creators in Rhode Island. From left: Swipely employees Sean Lane, Anthony Accardi and John Stefani.
After re-creating itself in three different markets in as many years, software startup Swipely finally found its feet and began to thrive in 2012, and founder and CEO Angus Davis shifted into high gear to find the people who could make his “lightning in a bottle” product even better.
“I grew up in Bristol and consider myself a born-and-raised Rhode Islander, but I spent over 10 years in Silicon Valley, at a little company called Netscape,” said Davis. “When we started the company here in Providence, that was the only context I had for how a company should operate, so we think of ourselves as trying to have a slice of Silicon Valley here in Providence.”
One aspect of the Silicon Valley mindset that Davis and company have embraced is fast growth. According to an Inc. magazine report, for the 18-month period from December 2011 to June 2013, Swipely grew from 27 employees to 72, and Davis told Providence Business News he expects to close out the year with about 80. The company’s pivot away from a social media approach to product reviews to customer-loyalty programs to its current – and successful – iteration as a merchant payment system and customer profile information provider has garnered the company significant funding, including a $12 million series B funding round in May.
The strong growth earned the company a spot at No. 3 on Inc. magazine’s 2013 “Hire Power” ranking of the top seven job creators in Rhode Island. Including Swipely, three of those seven are technology companies, mirroring a national trend that placed both software and IT services among the five top-hiring industries in the United States.
“To find and recruit really talented people to join our team … that’s a big challenge,” said Davis. “We have to adapt the business without losing sight of the things that make Swipely a great place to come into work every day.”
So far, the company seems able to stay on that track. Daily free lunches, a relaxed dress code and open-environment office space helped win the company a place among PBN’s “2013 Best Places To Work,” but staying on the list requires constant vigilance.