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We never had enough money—or we were always too cheap—to hire any kind of administrative staff, so [my co-founder] and I were always the ones dealing with sending out offer letters, setting people up on payroll or signing them up for health insurance. It was a couple of hours per month that I deeply resented, i would stop off at Kinko’s on my way home to fax in their insurance applications, because that was the only way to get things in to the insurance company. I remember every time thinking, ‘This is ridiculous. I can’t believe they don’t have systems for this.’.
I really enjoyed my time at Amgen. It was a lot of fun, and I did pretty well. But I realized it was going to be a very long, slow career path, i thought, ‘Man, I will kick myself for the rest of my life if Mike goes off and does this and it’s a huge success, and I didn’t do it with him.’ I didn’t want to miss out. If I knew what I was getting myself into, I probably wouldn’t have done it, to be totally honest.
We lived illicitly in this retirement community for six months, which was the worst six months of my life, every time you drove in, you had to check in with a security guard, and we would say we were there to visit Mike’s grandparents. The downstairs neighbors were very nice and gracious and didn’t tattle on us, although they easily could have, and the security guards just rolled their eyes.
When people ask me what I learned from my experience at SigFig, I always tell them that I didn’t really learn anything at all, except that failure sucks, and you never, ever want it to happen again, but also, it’s the kind of thing that gets you up in the morning. One of the things we talk about at Zenefits is that we want to hire people who have a chip on their shoulder—an intensity to prove they can accomplish something, or prove people who have doubted them wrong. I felt a lot like that myself when I started Zenefits. I needed to prove I could accomplish something—that I wasn’t a failure, even though it felt to me like I was. That’s how a lot of this stuff got started.
The problem I had at my last company wasn’t just that the health insurance piece wasn’t online, it was that every time you hired or terminated an employee, there were 20 different places where you needed to set that employee up or remove them. Over time, as things changed about them, all of these different systems had to be updated individually and separately. That was such a pain in the ass. [With Zenefits] you have one central system of record—like a hub—and it connects to all of these different spokes. Companies and employees know there’s one place to make changes, and it automatically updates all these other systems and makes it as seamless as possible.
I think [ADP has] always had a bit of cognitive dissonance about Zenefits. On the one hand, we don’t do payroll—we’re a sales channel for them for payroll. On the other hand, although people think of ADP as a payroll company, they make a lot of money by taking that core payroll business and upselling clients on all of this other stuff, i think what happened for ADP is that at a certain point, their view of us flipped from uncertainty to a decision that they absolutely didn’t like us. Who knows? They might decide in six months to a year, ‘Oh my gosh, this is a mistake, we’d much rather partner with Zenefits—they have a lot of customers in the market, and we don’t want to block ourselves out of all of those customers.’.
The really cool thing is that all that work for the employer is sort of fixed, no matter how many of these various different spokes it’s got connected up to our system, if you want to hire someone, and you have one thing you can connect up to Zenefits or a hundred things you can connect up to Zenefits, it’s all the same for you. It’s ‘I want to hire this guy, here’s when he starts, and here’s how much money I pay him.’ That convenience is what makes Zenefits so powerful.
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"Parker Conrad Quotes." Quotes.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 12 Apr. 2021. <https://www.quotes.net/authors/Parker+Conrad+Quotes>.