Humanity.com has operations in San Francisco, Pakistan, and Serbia. The founder lives in Panama. Yet another distributed software company that is scaling nicely.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your journey. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of background?
Ryan Fyfe: I grew up in Canada. I moved around a lot as a child. Both my parents were educators. My mom is a primary school teacher. My dad is a mechanical engineering professor. Through that time, we lived in Belgium, across different parts of Canada, andNew Zealand. I have a very international background from that perspective. It has helped shaped me as a person and also ties into my approach to doing business or building teams.
Sramana Mitra: What’s your educational background?
Ryan Fyfe: I graduated high school a couple of years early. I was competing at that time for our national track and field team. I was a national champion in the half mile. During that time, I was looking for part-time jobs. I fell in love with the internet. This was right around the dot-com boom and got involved in internet marketing which turned into application development shortly after that.
Sramana Mitra: Can you tell me what years we are talking about just so we can understand what’s happening in the world at that time?
Ryan Fyfe: I graduated around 2000. I spent a couple of years between 2002 and 2005 doing internet marketing. This was right around the time when search engine started to gain prominence. In 2009, I founded Humanity. I’ve just stepped down and co-founded my second company now. Humanity has gone on to be a market leader in employee scheduling software.
Sramana Mitra: Humanity is your second company. The first company was that digital marketing company or was there something else in between?
Ryan Fyfe: I’ve always tried to build products whether they became businesses or not. I’ve built between five and ten different products that have various levels of success. Humanity was the first one that became a business.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s talk about Humanity. What year did you start Humanity and what was the genesis? What was the idea that was in your head and why that idea?
Ryan Fyfe: Humanity started in 2009. At that time, we were actually called ShiftPlanning. The genesis was, throughout school, I worked in every part-time job you can imagine. As an hourly worker, the schedules were important to you. It makes the difference between being able to hang out with your friends.
For myself, I was competing oftentimes on the weekends at different track and field competitions. If I had a schedule conflict, that would cause different problems or inconveniences. I spent a lot of time thinking through that. Afterwards when I got involved in the internet and with the early rise of SaaS, the spark flew that there must be a better way to do this.
Traditional businesses are using pen and paper. They’re using Excel. At best, maybe your manager is scheduling in Excel and emailing that out to people but it’s still very cumbersome to generate a schedule. Any time there’s a scheduling change, people’s lives are dynamic. That was the spark for building a SaaS product that would alleviate the friction within the employees’ scheduling process.