Matt Straz: Founder and CEO of Namely

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Matt is the founder and CEO of Namely, the HR, Payroll, and Benefits platform for growing companies. Namely’s platform offers a full suite of HR, payroll, and benefits features for midsize organizations. Prior to Namely, Matt was co-founder of Pictela, the ad tech company that was acquired by AOL in 2010. Previously, he was senior partner at MEC, the global media agency, where he helped to build the digital practice. Matt presents and writes regularly about HR, startups, and technology.

How did you get into the Tech industry?

By accident. I was developing web sites for corporations out of college as a freelance designer. That led to building a front end/back end web development agency that was later acquired by WPP, the ad agency holding company.

Tell us about Namely. What inspired the idea and what is your vision for the company?

When I was at WPP I noticed that most agencies had awful HR technology. People were our most valuable asset and yet there was no centralized database of all of these great resources and skills. I decided that someday I would create a system to provide all of this data in one platform that people would actually enjoy using.

Today Namely has grown into a complete HR platform for all kinds of companies around the world. We provide HR, Payroll, and Benefits in a single, elegant system that is used by thousands of people every day.

What strategic partnerships/marketing strategies have you implemented that have attributed to Namely's success?

We have done things that are highly unusual for a B2B software company, including utilizing out of home and television advertising. We are also love experiential and social media. Our partnerships run the gamut from leading software companies to the world’s largest insurance carriers.

What industry trends are you noticing and how do you capitalize on them?

The HR software industry is changing rapidly. There is a general understanding now that all HR software will move to the cloud and that these products will increasingly be sold online or over the phone. These two trends are what enable Namely to sell an enterprise class product to companies with less than 2000 employees. SaaS and inside sales make it possible for small to mid-sized companies to have a HR software suite at a fraction of the cost of traditional enterprise software.

Life Motto?

Have faith.

Namely's Motto?

Growth matters.

Your greatest success as Founder/CEO of Namely? Most difficult moment-how did you overcome and what did you learn?

We’ve raised capital several times in the past year. Each time our valuation more than doubled. However, initially it was incredibly difficult to raise money. There were times when it seemed hopeless. I learned that no matter what you must keep trying and eventually everything will work out.

Your advice to an aspiring entrepreneur?

Always Be Raising. If you’re attacking a large market the competition will be fierce and you will need a lot of cash to compete. Don’t worry about dilution – the whole point of a venture-backed startup is to win big or die trying.

Of course, you can be an entrepreneur and not take venture capital. But either way your number one job as founder is to not let your company run out of money.

Describe the ideal experience using Namely.

The ideal experience as an employee is to not even realize you’re using HR software. You just use the product to do whatever you need to and aren’t reminded of the horrible HR software of the past.

As an admin, Namely provides you with everything you need to do as an HR professional in the least amount of time possible. The more you use Namely, the less time it takes to do things like onboard new employees and grow your business.

How do you motivate your employees?

By creating an environment where people feel safe to do great things. For me that means communicating our mission, providing everyone with resources they need, and encouraging people to grow professionally.

One food and drink left on earth, what would you choose?

Steak and a strong gin and tonic.

What literature is on your bed stand?

The Martian.

Role model - business and personal?

Anyone who strives to make things better.

Current passion?

Counting down the days to the next Star Wars movie.

Favorite travel destination?

New York City. I commute to the city 250 days a year and it never gets old.

What's next for Namely?

After 3 years of having our teams spread across six different offices in Manhattan and Brooklyn, we are finally going to live under one roof this summer. Our new office will be in New York’s Financial District and give us room for more than 500 employees. We are also opening a sales office in San Francisco this summer.