The Remote Show

Show Notes:

Kate's links:




Tyler Sellhorn (00:02):
Hello, everyone. My name is Tyler Sellhorn and welcome to another episode of The Remote Show, where we discuss everything to do with remote work, with the people who know it best. Thanks so much for listening. The Remote Show is brought to you by, We Work Remotely, the largest community of remote workers in the world. With over 220,000 unique users per month, We Work Remotely is the most effective way to hire.
Tyler Sellhorn (00:22):
Today, we welcome Kate Sukhenko, the co-founder and chief business development officer of POSTOPLAN. She is an experienced strategist and marketer with expertise across social media, including marketing strategy, content marketing, user experience, and conversion optimization. POSTOPLAN is a marketing platform that, in 14 months, has already reached $100 million of revenue. Their team is completely remote, working from 18 countries, and she is excited to share her expertise that has helped them grow to 112,000 users from 147 countries, over that time. Kate, what problems are you trying to solve with POSTOPLAN?
Kateryna Sukhenko (00:58):
Hi, Tyler. Thank you for inviting me. I'm really glad to be here. So, what could I tell about our product first, and about our targeted audience, like why we created POSTOPLAN and what problems we're trying to solve? Well, our ideal customer are a small business owners and small businesses and medium sized businesses. And also agencies who are promoting their products or services on social media.
Kateryna Sukhenko (01:25):
And yeah, I should tell that, in the very beginning, Alex, our CEO, he was an owner of an advertising agency and he used to work with services like that for scheduled posting on social media. And he [inaudible 00:01:40] some problems with that. And he noticed that services, they don't hear customers. Some services wouldn't do what their customer wants and didn't listen to him and didn't want to help. So, he decided to create product like that, who would be really attentive to its customers, who would hear its customers and invent functions and abilities would really help its customers. So that's what we are trying to create, a service that will be really useful for marketing and who will be helping small business owners and marketers in different countries. And that's why actually we have, currently more than, I guess, 16 already, because we are adding a new language, every few weeks. So, yeah.
Tyler Sellhorn (02:28):
Really cool. That's so neat to hear about remote teams helping internationally, helping other businesses be able to operate across languages. And that's one of the cool things about remote working, is just how much cross cultural types of activities are happening because of remote working. Speaking of that, Kate, I'm really curious to hear more about you all scaling so quickly across so many different borders. How do you guys maintain a company culture across cultures?
Kateryna Sukhenko (03:00):
You're talking about our team, right? So actually, I should say that POSTOPLAN isn't Russian speaking team. We are actually hiring those who can speak Russian and other languages. So English, Spanish, Hindi, Italian and stuff. So, yeah. But the main requirement is Russian language.
Tyler Sellhorn (03:23):
Okay. Really cool. So, you guys are based in Russia?
Kateryna Sukhenko (03:27):
Actually, we are based in Estonia, but our team works from like 18 different countries, worldwide.
Tyler Sellhorn (03:34):
Okay. So Kate, I know that you all are working hard on the onboarding process for new team members. What have you learned in this scale-up to so many countries of being able to work across cultures? Tell us about your onboarding process to make sure that people are a part of a team.
Kateryna Sukhenko (03:51):
Okay. So first of all, I should say that lately, we are getting a lot of new employees, a lot of new people, and it became a huge process of hiring and teaching them and stuff. So, there were a lot of changes in our company and we are trying to make sure that everyone feels comfortable. And at the same time, we are trying to make sure that everyone knows what to do and how to operate in our team, how to work with different services like Slack. And what was really helpful, is our Wikipedia that... yeah, we are making everyone who comes to our company learn that staff. And in there, we describe, not only processes, like who to talk to, who to ask questions, but also the main values of the company. So people will feel what we are trying to achieve to our users, what we're trying to do, why it is important for us, what we are trying to change, and why we're different. Right?
Kateryna Sukhenko (04:52):
And there is other stuff, what we would describe there, like how to solve problems, if you have difficulties with your tasks. Right? Who you should ask to... what should you do, what steps you should make to solve that. And it really makes new people more comfortable because, probably in the beginning, they should get used to work remotely because some of people never work remotely. Right? It could be a bit shocking, but now, almost every third person is already working remotely and learning new stuff. And that's... So...
Kateryna Sukhenko (05:25):
And with the help of Wikipedia, yeah, we are trying to avoid that, I don't know, confusion and not knowing what to do. So, yeah. That was really helpful for us. Yeah, in the beginning, we didn't check if a new person learned Wikipedia, our corporate Wikipedia. Right? But now, we are making them learn, read stuff. And then we have a little task for them to make sure they accepted to everything. So, yeah.
Tyler Sellhorn (05:51):
That's really, really cool. I know that's been a theme throughout our conversations with remote leaders, is that, documentation, and having a source of information that is living in a space where everyone can gather it and see the same things and learn from. And then, it also sounds like you are doing some iteration on top of what started. What prompted you to make those changes? You said, adding some tasks and checking for understanding.
Kateryna Sukhenko (06:20):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Tyler Sellhorn (06:21):
What were the problems that you noticed about the original documentation that made you say, "Mm, yeah. We need to change this." Or, "We need to add some tasks on top of what's here."?
Kateryna Sukhenko (06:29):
Actually, probably what would make us think about changes, that's like, when people make mistakes. Right? And usually, that would be like, some people who'd worked for six months in our company and they would still make mistakes. So we would make a decision like, "Oh, hey. We need to add it to our Wikipedia because we should solve this process and write it down so everyone could see that and would know what to do." So, yeah.
Kateryna Sukhenko (06:55):
Also, we have talent manager in our team. At the same time, she would check how the processes are going. And sometimes even... If somebody asks a question from somebody, right? And it's a wrong person, like he, or she is not responsible for that, she would text, "Hey, this question is not there. You should ask somebody else, a different person." So, she would also track how the processes are going. And if everyone makes mistakes in given tasks or asking some questions, he would fix that and tell what to do. So, yeah.
Tyler Sellhorn (07:29):
Okay. So, one of the things that I'm hearing you say is that, learning from errors, and then not treating that as an error that is only owned by the individual, but "Hey, we needed to take this error on as a, we, as an, us problem."
Kateryna Sukhenko (07:45):
Tyler Sellhorn (07:45):
"And we're going to build the documentation to ensure that, Hey, this won't happen again with another new hire or that we have something to instruct and to learn together as we are working together." That's really cool. I've experienced that myself in my day job of thinking through, "Okay, Hey. Here's this error. How do we fix it?" Right? We need to build the systems and the processes and the documentation to ensure that we aren't making that error in the future.
Kateryna Sukhenko (08:10):
Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Tyler Sellhorn (08:10):
Really, really cool. Okay, so one of the things that I heard you saying, is that there is a talent manager inside of your organization. What is that person's role? What are they doing to make sure that the team is effective and aligned?
Kateryna Sukhenko (08:27):
Mm-hmm (affirmative). So, while she's working with new employees, so making sure they understand everything properly, she would introduce them to the team in our general channel so everyone could see them, say, "Hi.". And there is a little introduction, always. So we always know who is coming to us, who is responsible for what, and stuff. So also, she would fix mistakes, like working in the service, like working in Slack. And... Yeah.
Kateryna Sukhenko (08:59):
Also, we are trying to make sure that new employees are clicked to another team member. For example, if this person is going to work in marketing department, we should make somebody from marketing department be responsible and be kind of like body in the company who would help, who would answer some questions, connect to... Not to processes. I mean, how to work, how to ask something, but connecting work questions. Right? Connecting to marketing questions. And this was really useful because, person feels that he or she is not alone in this company. They can apply and ask something. Right? They could complain about something and that person would help or recommend something what to do. So, that was really cool.
Kateryna Sukhenko (09:49):
And at the same time, this talent manager... I know that we schedule calls for new employees, like every week, for example, then every two weeks. And asking, "Hey, how have you been doing? What's your impression about the company? Are there any problems? How do you feel?" And usually, they would say, "Oh, I feel that company is really friendly because..." Yeah. They would feel really good support from our team. Of course, there were some complications. But, yeah. They could feel support from our team, that's the most important for us, probably.
Tyler Sellhorn (10:24):
That's really cool. I find that to be a best practice, that the best remote teams are following, is that there is someone whose responsibility it is to ensure that people are progressing in their onboarding. That when we aren't in an office together, there isn't that shoulder to shoulder time, that how do we replace that kind of behavior? That activity where it's like, "Okay, Hey. We need to put someone shoulder to shoulder. We need to schedule those calls." Like you say, that have that shoulder to shoulder times like, "Yes, this is where that is. This is where these are." Right? Those are the types of activities that we might've done, if we were co located. And they are needed inside of a remote environment too.
Tyler Sellhorn (11:03):
Okay. So one of the things that I'm curious to learn is, when you are evaluating candidates for a remote position, what are the signals that are telling you, "Yes. We want to know more about this person."? Or, we have a lot of remote job seekers listening, and we want to help them kind of like think through, "How do I show a remote hiring manager, 'Hey, I'm ready to be successful in your organization.'"?
Kateryna Sukhenko (11:30):
I would probably say that it's initiated when people do a bit more than we were asking for. Right? So, because I've experienced that currently, I'm trying to hire my team, kind of like people who would help me with some stuff. We are scaling and it's important for us to take more people. And yeah, I felt when person is not interested in work and he or she would do even a bit less than I was asking, I'd feel that he or she is not interested in this work. When the person is like burning with work and they are trying to do more, trying to add something or give their ideas like, "Oh, I saw maybe we should do that." Or also like, "When I was reading, I found that stuff." And... Yeah. I feel we are on one side.
Tyler Sellhorn (12:25):
I hear that. So you're saying that when you are evaluating candidates, the person that goes above and beyond, the person that really does take it the extra mile, is interesting to you and makes you want to learn more about them. Is that what I'm hearing you say?
Kateryna Sukhenko (12:38):
Yeah. That's right.
Tyler Sellhorn (12:41):
Okay. Fantastic. Well, remote job seekers out there, that's how to win over some hearts there, is to say, "Okay, yeah. Here's your application and here's what we need to do to get into the queue." But how do you raise your hand? How do you stand up and be noticed, right? Be proactive. Did you have some more to say?
Kateryna Sukhenko (12:59):
Yeah. Actually, I would say, we are a startup and we... Most of the positions... Yeah. So we need IT who could do that, that, and that. Right? And we could find these tapes in their resumes. Right? And it's okay. Or we're looking for markets or who did that, that, and that. But sometimes, we need somebody who could help or we need somebody who will find that information for us, or who would register POSTOPLAN on different platforms and services. And who could think what else we could do there. Or, we need somebody who could communicate with our users on forums. And this is not very exciting, and some people wouldn't probably looking for something like that. But some people would really interested to work in a company that and help, I don't know, make an impact. So, yeah. That's what I'm talking about.
Tyler Sellhorn (13:54):
Yeah. So working in a small company, working at a startup, there are lots of things to be done that aren't being done, just because there's only so many of us doing the thing together. And, yes, you are permitted to go in and come further up and further into the organization. Please do that thing that you're suggesting because we need it. And thank you for identifying that and beginning that process already. I've said those very things myself. So I am a kindred spirit, as it relates to that feeling.
Tyler Sellhorn (14:23):
Okay. So, let's flip that around. Right? Let's imagine you're a remote job seeker and you're thinking about, "Okay, I want to show that POSTOPLAN is a real remote organization, not just one that is offering it as remote, okay, or we have some remote employees. But we are a fully remote, distributed organization. How do you tell people about that? How do you identify yourself as an organization that works remotely?
Kateryna Sukhenko (14:53):
Well, we are a completely remote company, so the main proof is that we are incorporated in Estonia. But probably any of our coworkers actually lives in Estonia right now. We work from 18 different countries. And it has been doing really well because looking at our results, more than a hundred thousand users from 147 countries, that we can see that we are working well and we are going in the right direction. So, yeah. Everyone felt comfortable working like that. And I mean, yeah. There are some people for whom remote work is not good enough. I don't know.
Tyler Sellhorn (15:34):
Okay. So, tell me some more about starting a company during this moment that we're still in. Right? In 2020. Tell us some more about how you might've thought differently about starting this company in 2019 versus 2020. Or how you might think about it differently, if you were to start 14 months from now, when there're vaccines distributed widely across the whole earth and there're different things there. Give us a picture of that compare and contrast of, "Okay, well, when I was doing something back in 2019..." Or, "Because of what we did, when we did it, this is this some things." Or, "Maybe if we were to imagine a future, this would be different there." Can you do some comparison and some contrast of what you're thinking about, when you think about those different time periods?
Kateryna Sukhenko (16:24):
Well, I would say that maybe we got lucky because, actually we started POSTOPLAN in January 2020. Right? And nobody heard about COVID at that time. But then it started. And in the beginning, it was really what? Hard. We didn't know what to do, but then we could see that everyone is looking for remote jobs or everyone is trying to promote on social media. And that was good because we could suggest our help to those people, to those businesses that like, "Hey, there is POSTOPLAN and we can really help you to increase reach to your publications, if you use POSTOPLAN. Or get more clients because more users will be able to see your publications. You will spend less time and you could be busy with different stuff, like making your product better or talking to your customers and stuff. So, we will help you to create content. We'll help you to distribute and promote your content." So, probably that's why users trusted us and that's why we probably have that number, more than a hundred thousand users.
Tyler Sellhorn (17:29):
Really interesting. So you think that, even as a part of your message to customers, that working in a remote fashion, we are distributed, same as our customer base is that, that is an advantage for you, in how you are operating. Is that what I'm hearing you say?
Kateryna Sukhenko (17:48):
Yeah, yeah. That's right. I mean, we're trying to help. And we were trying to make them feel more comfortable because we are working remotely. Right? All of our team. And we could help and prove that, it's okay and you can do it remotely as well. Right? And you will be successful.
Tyler Sellhorn (18:05):
That's really interesting. I've found... We've spoken to lots of remote-oriented tools. And obviously a marketing platform isn't necessarily directly pointed as a remote tool, because you're going to help co-located businesses as well, or hybrid businesses. But remote tool businesses are definitely trying to show the way. There are some great examples of other remote-only organizations sharing their learning, sharing their stuff. We're speaking together on the 29th of June, and today there's a huge event being put on by GitLab called, all caps, REMOTE.
Tyler Sellhorn (18:44):
I'm very grateful for you all and for GetLab, and for other organizations, We Work Remotely among them, that have, not only been a remote organization, but also sharing their learning. Right? Being an open source kind of mentality and helping mentality to share, "Hey, not only are we doing it, but you can too. And here's how." Right? Those types of statements are really, really helpful. And I know, for myself, as someone who started working remotely in 2019, I'm incredibly grateful to those that have blazed the trail, as it were, and showed us how to do this well. Anything else that's on your mind as you think about, okay, what are those things that you did share with organizations to say, "Yeah, you can do this."
Kateryna Sukhenko (19:33):
Well, I could say that we've been really loyal to our users. And when I said, "We're trying to help.", it's about sharing some ideas, sharing some content on our social media. But at the same time, we would, I would say, easily upgrade our users when they really needed it. There are some really active users using POSTOPLAN, and as a gift or a thank you, we would provide them an upgrade. And I guess a month ago, one person from Nepal planted five trees to say, "Thank you", to POSTOPLAN because we upgraded his package. And he was really happy about that. He didn't expect that, but sometimes we would do that and... Yeah. That's why our users love us.
Tyler Sellhorn (20:19):
Yeah. I think showing up for customers in that way, is helpful and does help the bottom line, and builds loyalty. When you think about serving remote employees well, talking about how to serve customers well, what are some of the things that POSTOPLAN is doing to say, "Okay, let's upgrade your plan, as it relates to working remotely." What are some of the things that you guys do in a remote environment, to build employee loyalty?
Kateryna Sukhenko (20:46):
Oh, well there is information [inaudible 00:20:49] we care about that. So first of all, there are options of the company. So employees who worked with us more than six months, they get some shares of our company, just working with us. So that's a cool incentive, I would say. Right? Also, we always would give bonuses for our employees. And there's always a possibility of upgrade your position. As I said, we're a startup, and sometimes we are looking for, not only marketers, but assistants who could help us. And when we see this person works well, we, of course, would upgrade her in her position and increase her salary. So, that just happened a few days ago in our company. Everyone knows about that. When we post a position, we always tell them that it's true. There is a way for promotion.
Tyler Sellhorn (21:41):
Okay. So, tell us some more about the ways that you have built career paths inside of your... I mean, you're a startup, you're new. But you're kind of building that opportunity for people to move up in the organization. How do you guys think about that?
Kateryna Sukhenko (21:53):
There are some examples, like we would hire somebody to our support team, who worked really well, who was initiative, adding some ideas, how to improve work in our support. Then he became head of support, was responsible for that things and... Yeah. Get raise, and that's it. Also, there was our assistant, [Alona 00:22:15]. She was also assistant for, I guess, few months, like two or three months. And then she got a different position which was higher. And... Yeah.
Tyler Sellhorn (22:27):
Okay. So part of what I'm hearing you saying, is that, in a remote environment, because we're not right next to each other, working out loud and taking that initiative, that's a theme that we've had, speaking about today. But there's always going to be something else that can be done. Right? There's always going to be that other thing, and doing that in a way that is visible or that is out loud... That's one of my little phrases, is learning out loud, to say, "Okay, this is something that we're learning, this is something that we're figuring out. And, hey, here's what I tried, and this was the result."
Tyler Sellhorn (22:58):
And working in those ways really, really helps to demonstrate to a remote hiring manager, if you're a job seeker, or to someone who might be in charge of a promotion. Right? To say, "Hey, this is what I'm doing as an individual contributor. See what I'm doing. This is what I've worked on. These are the ideas that I'm testing out." That's really, really cool.
Kateryna Sukhenko (23:18):
Yeah. So other example would be like, there was a person who was working with our affiliate program, promotion and stuff. And she had some tasks and she was like, "Oh, maybe we should improve our page. I looked at our competitors and they have that, that, and that. Maybe we should add it to our page." So this was really cool, and we could feel this person is engaged in our work. She wants to prove the same, what we want to prove. She's in our team.
Tyler Sellhorn (23:46):
That's awesome. I'm very grateful for you coming to share your learnings here today, Kate. We're excited to see the growth of remote organizations that maybe were born of the pandemic or just before, I guess, in the case of POSTOPLAN. But we're very excited to see you all growing and sharing your learning as you grow. So, thank you so much for appearing and sharing your learnings with us today.
Kateryna Sukhenko (24:07):
Thank you, Tyler, for all your questions. That was really nice to talk to you.
Tyler Sellhorn (24:11):
Tyler Sellhorn (24:14):
Thanks so much, again, for listening to the show, and be sure to check out weworkremotely.com for the latest remote jobs. And if you're looking to hire a remote worker, We Work Remotely is the fastest and easiest way to do so. As always, if you have someone we should talk to, any advice you have, or if you'd like to advertise on the podcast, please reach out to us at [email protected], that's [email protected]. Thanks so much for listening and we'll talk to you next time. 

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