Smart SMB

Smart SMB

Team Members

  • Declan O'Donovan
  • Lachlan Bryant
  • Ryan Pike

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Hospitality is a notoriously volatile industry. Managers are forced to adapt to changing environments; sick staff, new bookings or rainy weather. NeverShort helps managers adapt to changes quickly, minimising time spent organising staff whilst reducing frustration caused by last minute changes

The Idea

Currently, managers within hospitality spend an unnecessarily large proportion of their time trying to manage staff who are not currently working. For example, in many restaurants more staff are often rostered to work than those that actually do. Depending on how many bookings a restaurant has for that day influences how many staff are either ‘called on’ or ‘called off’ for that day. This is a system that is begging for automation though currently eats into the valuable time of the manager. As well as this, staff are left in the dark about whether or not it is ‘likely’ or ‘unlikely’ that they will be called in to work. Helping convey information like this to the staff will help improve their experience of working for the business.
As another example, unpredictability within staff is another variable that managers are forced to deal with. If someone calls in sick to work behind the bar on a Friday night, that shift needs to be filled and their is limited time to do this. Many businesses currently call staff one by one to try to fill this shift. For anyone who has worked in hospitality, the incentives to work last minute on a Friday night are simply not there.
Our project hopes to deal with these two problems through developing a highly versatile and responsive rostering system specifically designed for the volatility and unpredictability of hospitality. This system will drastically reduce the time spent by managers organising staff not currently working, whilst improving the experience for staff by giving them more control and more information about when they will actually be working and when they will be ‘called off’.

The Market

Business owners and business managers are primary customers for this venture. Reductions in time and effort in organising their workforce translate to time and money in hand. As well as this, by improving communication between managers and staff, staff can experience a more predictable work, translating into a more content workforce for the managers and owners.

What we have found from managers we have engaged is that they are often over worked and unfamiliar with technology. They often work 60 hour weeks, and from our observations from working within the industry much of this time is spent inefficiently. We see that an unpredictable customer base and staff is time consuming and emotionally draining.

The Competition

There are great rostering software solutions. Systems such as Tanda, Deputy, and Zuus have sophisticated and easy to use software. Some are more sophisticated than others, using predictive analytics for rostering. Some managers are using these systems to save time and energy, some are not using these systems at all. However these systems rely on the managers to implement analytics consistently and very accurately, and rely on a rigid shift system. Further they do not have a way to deal with short term volatility at all, nor the desired flexibility of employees. Our system will fill this gap, as well as focus on educating and making simple its integration into existing software solutions. 

The Vision

We want to empower industries to deliver their value. We want to help people redefine the way people approach and tackle problems. With data driven solutions we hope to provide the tools they need and a new perspective to better refine their value creation. For now we are looking at changing the way staff is organised in the hospitality industry.

Volatility is inherent to industries that rely on customer numbers and casual staff. Yet the tools provided to managers in these industries lack flexibility and reactivity. This cripples manager’s ability to respond to a changing environment effectively. Further, the flexibility and agency staff want is not being delivered. By interpreting data and questioning assumptions underpinning this current system, we believe we can deliver a solution. A solution that has one foot in industry and the other in outside perspective and analysis, to deliver something truly creative and innovative. This will have wide application in Australian Hospitality, Tourism, and Retail industries, as well as those industries internationally. We plan to use this base to collect data and create connections that can allow us to create more data driven solutions in the future.

Mentor Pitch

Hospitality requires tools for dealing with unexpected numbers of consumers, as well as organising large numbers of casual staff. The current systems are too rigid and require slow and time consuming changes on the day, the day before, and the week before. Our project is to create a new dynamic rostering system for hospitality. One built to be flexible and reactive for managers to give them tools to better respond to changes. As well as efficient and automated to reduce time spent managing staff that are not in the building. This affects the Australian Hospitality, Tourism, and Retail industries. Our team understands hospitality from years in the industry, as well as strong skills in Data Analytics, Mathematics, and Engineering. With these skills together we are capable of bringing new perspectives and skills into the industry with empathy and understanding.
In a mentor we want someone to help us foster wide industry connections that we can use to refine and test our product. For while we have personal connections in the industry, we need someone to help us understand the industry as a whole in an effective way. We would also love to work with someone familiar with lean prototyping and product development. We would also appreciate anyone with User Experience skills and App Development to help us refine our solution more specifically.

The Customer Experience

In terms of reaching curstomers we have already undertaken extensive market research talking to multiple restaurant managers, night club owners and a golf club in an attempt to form early partnerships for our initial roll out. We have created a Facebook page to get the name of Nevershort out there and will continue to talk to future customers. Considering the hospitality network is well linked we believe that after a few early adopters are established the service will move quite quickly.

When the service is available it will most likely be based on a subscription fee which reminds the customers of the continual relationship that we form with them. We will also offer incentives to customers that provide additional data and information about how we can make the service fulfil the needs at a more complete level.

The Team

Lachlan Declan, and I have been working in the hospitality industry since we were 16. It has been more than just a job, one that has given us life long friends and skills that will stay with us for life. One unavoidable observation is the inefficiencies that managers face. In particular the time spent trying to manage staff. There is also no way of dealing with large spikes in customers other than having to call up staff trying to get people in. This is time consuming and makes managers unusable in these peak times.

Between the three of us we have two math majors and a data analytics major which is why we are suited to tackle this problem. We study these degrees to want to make a difference in real tangible problems. The inefficiencies were independently discovered and discussed at one of our first meetings. So far we have developed a rough prototype and partnered with Mr Wolf nightclub, the Royal Federal Golf Club and Sage restaurant to be apart of the first testing.

Funding Sought

Low Level Funding - $2000-$10,000
Main cost of venture is our time spent in customer relations and app development. We would use funding to quit our jobs (or support those that have already done so) to work fully on this project. We would develop our own app with the help ANU TechLauncher as well as the skills we have from University. We will use this prototype to refine our idea, as a proof of concept for investors, and to get specific feedback from our current and future partners. We would also work in a co working space such as Entry-29 (3 days a week for $220 a month), as some of our team members are graduating in the new year.

Medium Level Funding - $10,000-$20,000
We would follow all the steps in Low Level Funding, but also hire some outside expertise for our final prototype coding as well as advertising. As the prototype and brand will be key to future funding, extra help and time to refine the product is very important. We would also be able to expand our team with other university students and recent graduates. 

High Level Funding - $20,000+
To develop a top tier product we recognise we would need outside expertise. With a high level of funding we would outsource the App Development to an outside party and focus on customer relations, as well as the mathematics that underpin the product. We would also use the ANU TechLauncher to focus on App design and risk assessments and value capture.

Our Partners

We are partnering with local restaurants and clubs in Canberra, using our established network in the Hospitality Industry. Jack Ryan at Mr Wolf, Michel Barrantes at Courgette/Royal Canberra Golf Club, and Hannah McDowell at Sage Dining Rooms. They’re helping us get quantitative and qualitative understanding of the industry, as well as an understanding of the needs, desires, and fears of the managers that we intend to provide this product to. They are gaining information about how technology can change their business. They will also get the product first and free, and designed to their desires. We know that we can use these partnerships to expand our network of partners in the future.

Our Revenue Streams

Nevershort empowers and strengthens the qualities that makes managers managers. It also provides employees with the satisfaction of autonomy and agency with the sole purpose of saving time and energy on inefficient tasks. Through a dynamic rostering system Nevershort provides a unique and proven solution to the managers quandary of managing staff.

Hospitality is filled to the brim with casual staff and with it comes a high turnover rate and a high level of uncertainty with individuals showing up. Nevershort is geared towards providing an infrastructure for employees to manage themselves in a system that rewards amenability and consistency. This allows managers to stop spending time on calling up staff at the last minute and instead focus on delivering a quality experience. The very reason they made a managerial role. It will increase the yield of restaurants due to the consistency of staff and will give more time to key players to create and deliver that experience which increases the value of everyone involved.
The system will be a web-based application with a recurring subscription fee of 20$ per employee per month. This comes from realising the time that is saved from managers having to organise staff. The subscription fee should also serve as a reminder of a continual relationship with our clients to further improve the overall experience. You will never be short using Nevershort.