How to Scale Your Business in Response to High Demand Opportunities

Last Updated on February 27, 2022 by Owen McGab Enaohwo

Is your business positioned for its much-needed scaling? 

The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic created a surge in demand for video communication platforms like BigMarker. As chief operating officer (COO) and head of product, Justin Brown had to come up with innovative ways to manage the exponential growth and opportunity his company experienced during the pandemic.

In this episode of the Process Breakdown Podcast, the host, Dr. Jeremy Weisz, engages his guest Justin Brown and takes listeners along with stories about their experiences. Justin talks about how he and his team leveraged the opportunity created by the pandemic to scale their product. 

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Show Notes 

[0:26] Intro 

  • Dr. Jeremy Weisz mentions some of the past guests on the show, including David Allen of Getting Things Done and Michael Gerber of The E-Myth.
  • Dr. Jeremy Weisz introduces SweetProcess, a workflow tool that helps organizations streamline their operations and empower their employees for efficiency.
  • SweetProcess offers a 14-day free trial with no credit card required.

[1:48]  Dr. Jeremy Weisz introduces the guest Justin Brown.

[3:03]  Justin gives an overview of what they do at BigMarker.

  • A virtual and hybrid event platform, BigMarker started over 10 years ago as a consumer-based live video platform on the web.
  • It started as a B2C video platform, organizing virtual and hybrid events as early as 2011.
  • BigMarker was a pioneer of the webinar category before the term became popular. 

[6:39]  What informed the decision to make BigMarker a web-based platform?

  • They wanted everyone to be able to access it on the web without suffering device incompatibility issues.
  • When they transitioned to a B2B platform, they maintained the web-based design to give businesses more accessibility and visibility with their customers. 

[8:39] Justin shares the growth story of the platform.

  • COVID-19 impacted BigMarker greatly as the demand for the software category increased by about 2,000 percent overnight.
  • Justin was getting over 3,000 emails a day and his phone was ringing nonstop as people were panic buying. 
  • They were committed to helping as many businesses as they could with their services.

[13:11] How did Justin and his team handle their customer service during the surge in demand for their product?

  • They prioritized customer service more than ever to help people.
  • They enhanced their self-service feature so people could do as much as they could independently.
  • BigMarker created shortcuts in their onboarding process to hire 15 to 20 support people in days and weeks.
  • They leveraged workflow tools in their project management and operations. 

[17:41] What features developed in their hiring framework at the time stand out to date?

  • They outlined key metrics to look out for in employees to ensure values aligned.
  • They hired employees who aligned with their integrity, honesty, and customer satisfaction.
  • Instead of directly asking prospects if they had these values, they developed proxies to ascertain if they did.

[20:51]            Justin gives examples of proxy questions about integrity and honesty.

  • They asked prospects to share their experiences about situations that had elements of integrity and honesty. 
  • They observed the emotions expressed by the applicants as they shared their stories.
  • They also explored what the prospects were passionate about outside work.

[23:27] How did the team onboard its new hires during the surge in the pandemic?

  • Since it was uncharted territory, they had to make best guesses and adjust their processes.
  • They replicated the successes and corrected the failures with new approaches immediately. 
  • All hands were on deck around the clock to get things right.
  • The ability of the team to get things done faster made them question their initial operations approach, which took a long time to accomplish. 

[26:11] Justin shares insights into how they shortened the training and onboarding process.

  • They adopted the crawl, walk, and run mantra.
  • They gave their new hires extra time to get used to their tasks, given the circumstances.

[29:41] What were the dynamics of managing the platform during the pandemic?

  • The platform was up and running, but it hadn’t scaled yet, so it was a new experience to scale this quickly.
  • They gained new insights into the capabilities of their platform with the high demand.
  • Team members were live on events supporting people to use the platform successfully. 
  • They suffered a major technical challenge during a high-profile event and had to save the day with a strategic move. 

[38:20] Outro

About Justin Brown

Justin Brown is the COO and head of product at BigMarker, a top-rated webinar and video platform. He’s passionate about building category-defining businesses for success. Over the past 12 years, BigMarker has worked with half of the Fortune 500 companies as it has grown from a small startup to a global company.

As COO at BigMarker, Justin plays an integral role in streamlining the operations of the Chicago-based company. His track record includes impacting strategy, product, and marketing at fast-growing companies as well as the big Fortune 500 companies. He has led BigMarker in its massive operational growth and has learned how to prioritize under pressure.

Transcript of the interview

Speaker 1: Welcome to the Process Breakdown Podcast, where we talk about streamlining and scaling operations of your company, getting rid of bottlenecks and giving your employees all the information they need to be successful at their jobs. Now, let’s get started with the show.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Dr. Jeremy Weisz here, host OF the Process Breakdown Podcast, where we talk about streamlining and scaling operations of your company, getting rid of bottlenecks and giving your staff everything they need to be successful at their job. I’m here with Justin Brown with BigMarker. But before I formally introduce Justin, I always like to mention a couple past guests Justin you know there’s so many great episodes, some of the noteworthy ones, David Allen, of Getting Things Done. We had on Michael Gerber of the E-Myth and many, many more and other top COOs across the country and world. So check it out. This episode is brought to you by SweetProcess. And if you’ve had team ask you the same questions over and over again, and maybe the 10th time you spent explaining it, well, guess what? There’s a better way. There is a solution. SweetProcess is a software that makes it drop dead easy to train and onboard new staff and save time with existing staff.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: And not only do universities, banks, hospitals, and software companies use them, but when I was talking to one of the owners, Owen, he told me, actually first responder government agencies use them in life or death situations to run their operations. I’m like, that’s great. We should use that when I read this. So we did. So use SweetProcess to document all the repetitive tasks that eat up your precious time so you can focus on growing your team, empowering them to do their best work. There is a free 14 day trial. No credit cards is required. You can go to It’s Sweet like candy, And I’m excited. And I was talking to Justin Brown, the COO and head of product at BigMarker before we hit record. And I was looking back and I’ve been communicating with their company and founders since 2012, they’ve been around in the virtual space. This is in dog years, Justin, this is like 102 or something.

Justin Brown: Back before it was cool.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Back before it was cool, but their category leading virtual and hybrid events platform, which is obviously with everything that’s happening in the world, everyone should be using this, something like this, it’s earned the number one ranking customer satisfaction on G2. And for the past over 12 years, Justin has partnered with the world’s most innovative companies, Google, Samsung, Nike, the Wall Street Journal, and they create world class digital experiences. So along the way, he’s led a team that has grown BigMarker from small startup to a global company. And it’s worked with more than half of the Fortune 500 companies. Justin, thanks for joining me.

Justin Brown: Thank you, Jeremy. Thanks for having me.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Yeah. And we’re going to discuss today a little bit about how do you deal with growth and the operations behind growing and what do you prioritize? But before we get to that, just talk a little bit about BigMarker and what you do.

Justin Brown: Sure. Thank you. So, as you mentioned, BigMarker is a virtual and hybrid event platform. We really started over 10 years ago now as a consumer based live video platform on the web. So we were really pioneering that industry and the original notion came from the fact that there was a gap in the marketplace. We were using tools like GoToMeeting and Skype and things like that.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Oh, back in that day, I was like to get someone on a Skype, that’s WHAT I was using. Skype video and they’re like, what is Skype? I have to sign up for Skype. It was just a pain for people sometimes.

Justin Brown: Yeah. But it was really good for connecting with people while they were traveling internationally. It was really good for one-on-one calls. And then in more of a business setting, we were using the meeting tools for conferences and meetings at work. But there really wasn’t a consumer option where you could go and connect back in 2010, 2011, right. Where you could connect with like-minded people and join like a hangout or something like that. Or you could go and meet with people that are other activists in the area that you’re interested in, or people doing all kinds of different study groups or things like that. So we started out as more of a B2C platform and we quickly learned how difficult it is to scale B2C video on the web and how costly it is.

Justin Brown: This is back before AWS and all of that as well. So you can imagine. So we had a few pivots along the way, but we ended up squarely in the B2B space with a subscription model. And then we became pioneers of the webinar category back before that term was really even used. And so we were doing the very typical talking heads, presentation, chat box format that were very used to. But we’ve been doing that for over 10 years. And since the new category virtual events has really taken shape, we were doing virtual events and hybrid events back in 2011, 2012, except no one has really calling it that, the language has changed a little bit over the years. But really in the past year, a year and a half, it’s really been recognized as a new category. And we were in the right place at the right time to become a leader in this new category.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Yeah. It’s an overnight success after 12 years, right.

Justin Brown: That’s what they say.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: People, like, oh, it’s so obvious now, but back over a decade ago and not so obvious.

Justin Brown: That’s true. And there were a lot of bumps in the road along the way, obviously like everything, a lot of which we’ll talk about today and the word that we use or phrase that we use internally to describe it is it’s always a non-linear path, right.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: One of the things that strikes me about your company and what you do, it’s which I find a little bit fascinating, which is it’s browser based and not download. So, which probably from a technical standpoint, I imagine is much harder to do than a download. So I’m curious, because your stuff runs in the cloud, right.

Justin Brown: It does.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Your web browser, so no one has to… And anyone’s been on something like you end up going on, you’re running on time or late, and then you realize, oh my God, I have to download this thing. And yours isn’t like that. So was that a really hard conversation decision or talk about that for a second.

Justin Brown: At the inception of the company, that was one of the key decisions that was made because that original use case in the B2C space about people not using it at work formally, but people using it outside of work to connect with these large meetings and webinars before they were called webinars with their different groups that they participate in, one of the key requirements, there was that everyone needed to be able to access it from a web browser because downloading software you might be on one machine that it doesn’t work with that software. And so we wanted to maximize for accessibility. When we pivoted from B2C to B2B, that key assumption on the technology side actually stayed the same because now in a marketing and demand generation context.

Justin Brown: When people are really hosting webinars and virtual events so that they can engage their customer base, so that it can maximize the number of leads that they’re able to generate through the content experiences that they’re hosting, accessibility is also front and center, where they want to maximize the show up rate, the number of people that actually attend and that want to participate in the discussion and provide the data, which is where the value come from. So it’s actually kind of funny that even though our business model has changed and our go to market has changed, and our target customer has changed, that one key product benefit has been consistent throughout.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: So I love that we have audience of COOs, operations, people who’ll geek out on systems. And one of the things we discussed about is how do you deal with growth and doing operations on the fly, because as you grow, you’re having to build it as you go. So talk about growth and then maybe some key points along the journey that where you had to put in certain operations or systems.

Justin Brown: Sure. For us, the story around COVID is really interesting, where our entire category, not just our company, but all of the other great companies in our space. When March 2020 came around and all of a sudden, you remember, if you look back to those first couple days where we all started to have those conversations with each other, like, oh, I think this is a serious thing, right. And then a day later seemingly was like, oh, I think we need to close our office, right. And then another day later, and everything was closed. I remember that week where within a 72 hour period, the world suddenly changed, right. So during that period our world also very much changed where the demand curve for our category of software increased by about 2,000% overnight.

Justin Brown: So it was nuts, right? Because that’s a story that you hear about when you’re in college and you’re studying macroeconomics and you’re thinking about all that aggregate demand and everything, but then when it actually happens to you, you’re like, oh, wow, I never thought that this was going to happen. So like others in our space and a lot of eCommerce, right, and other, I think they call them the COVID stocks, right, that have, have done fabulously well in the past 18 months, we all of a sudden found ourselves in a position where we had more inbound inquiries coming in through all channels. And there was one point where I was getting over 3,000 emails a day. Me, myself, personally, as the COO of the company. Our sales inbox was getting multiples, more of that.

Justin Brown: So we were getting that, my phone was ringing off the hook. I don’t even know how people were getting my phone number, but we had a moment where customers and prospects were in panic mode. They were panic buying because their events were being canceled, were being shut down by CDC guidelines. They had to figure out because their businesses depended on it. They needed to engage with their customers so that they could keep the lights on, right. And they didn’t have any other option, but to turn to virtual technology. So since then now that the dust has settled a bit and things have entered this phase of new normal, we’ve been able to now reflect on it and look back on it. But in that moment, when that was all happening, we had to very quickly respond to it.

Justin Brown: And it was, on one side of the coin, it was a once in a lifetime business opportunity. But on the other side of the coin, we weren’t even thinking about that at the time, because literally we had people calling us in tears because their life had just been turned upside down and they didn’t know what to do. And they said, "You need to help us." And so we were people trying to help other people and just it became crazy. You mentioned the word prioritization, that’s all it was. We just had essentially a list and things were moving up and down the list. And it was like, "Okay, here’s what we need to do. We need to hire these people. We need to establish this process that we’ve never had the need for before." And we use agile when it comes to software development and technology. We had to apply those same principle, same principles to operations in a new way, because there was no other way and it was nuts as you’d expect.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: So let’s break this down for a second and from a prioritization because there’s different categories I see of all this stuff is coming at you and you need to bucket it somewhere. And one of the first things you said is customer service, right. 3,000, even if you spend a minute on each one, which is not even feasible, spending 3,000 minutes a day on just emails, not even possible. And then there’s sales, there’s product, there’s hiring and then there’s just overall operations. So talk about customer service. What things did you actually have to do with the influx of sales emails and emails just to you and calls.

Justin Brown: Yeah. Great, great question. That was one of the things that we prioritized was customer service because we knew that… The good news is that we already had a platform, right. And then it was built, it was working, we had to scale it in new ways to accommodate a much larger user base than ever before. But that’s a whole separate conversation and a different work stream that we ran. But we knew that service, we knew that people that were emailing and calling in and tweeting and all that needed help. And they were going and they were signing up for self-service plans and they were using it, but they needed more than just the technology. They needed someone to walk them through it. They needed someone to show them how to apply it to their business or their use case.

Justin Brown: And in some cases they just needed a partner to tell them that it was going to be okay, right. And that just someone to listen. And so we saw that customer experience as be… We always have. We have a disposition where customer experience is a differentiator for us. And we believe that that’s core to our mission and what we want to create. So we prioritize building that team. So we went hardcore into hiring mode with that. We had to really take advantage of some puristics and some short cuts because we didn’t have time to run a six week hiring process with candidates and put them through five rounds of interviews. We had to hire people within a matter of days.

Justin Brown: So we developed a framework, we developed a rubric and we developed a process. We put together a SWAT team, internally cross-functionally and we always start to Google Doc. We love Google Docs and since COVID and now adapting to working virtually, which is another topic we can explore, we use [inaudible 00:15:14] and some other tools, which we absolutely love, but Google Docs is the one thing that’s always stayed with us where we’ll go into a meeting, open up the document and write at the beginning, we’ll start with what’s the objective, what’s the problem that we need to solve today. And how much time are we going to spend doing it? Who’s here? Who are the roles and what are their responsibilities? So pretty basic project management stuff. And in this hiring case, an interviewing case, we came up with a system that worked for us at that time. Is it the best system? Is it one that I would recommend to other people? Probably not outside of that situation, right. But we had to throw out the rule book and rewrite it given where we were.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: It creates innovation, it creates, when you turn something on its head like that, and you’re forced to do things differently, you have different, I’m sure, realizations. So when you do have a five week process, you’ll still probably employ some of those, the methodology.

Justin Brown: A hundred percent. So we hired between 15 and 20 support people pretty quickly within a matter of days and weeks. And the other thing that’s an important metric to look at, now that it’s 18 years later, I’d say over 80% of them are still with us. So I’d call that a success. The process that we ran there worked, right. Because it worked both ways. I think that the company got value out of the people and we ended up making pretty good decisions, they’re still with us. And I think on the other side of the coin for the people that we hired, they’re happy with the company and the employee experience we’ve been able to provide, which is completely different now, all a hundred percent remote and working from home. Another thing that we had to completely pivot, another thing we had to war game, another meeting with a Google Doc that turned into a policy and something that was rolled out, but completely done on the fly.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: So I could see with a customer service, you’re like, we just don’t have the capacity right now. We need to hire whatever 15 more people. You get in a meeting, you source what the objectives are. And you create this framework for hiring. What’s an example of something within the framework that you found was a breakthrough that allowed you to, in a very short condensed period of time, have success where they’re still with you later.

Justin Brown: Sure. So we broke it down into just the key foundations of the types of people. We thought ahead, we were like a year from now or a month from now, if we make it through this, because we didn’t really know how much time it was going to take, what does success look like for us? What will we look back on and we’ll say, "Yes, we’ve hired a really great team." So the first one which is still with us now is really values alignment, and making sure, I said that service, customer experience is critical to us, doing the right thing, honesty, integrity, these are all our core values. And so we hire for that first and it’s really hard to get a sense of that in an interview process And so we had to develop proxies for it, because you can’t just ask somebody, do you operate with integrity, right.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Who’s going to say no, right.

Justin Brown: Right. Exactly. And so we deduced that and figure that out and so we said, "Okay, let’s try to come up with some questions that help us create a proxy answer for that and have people tell us stories or talk about situations they’ve been in." And so we really rewrote our playbook for how we do interviews and how we hire for people, because we knew that rather than previously where we would’ve spent more of like four to six weeks interviewing a candidate and putting them through five or six people, we needed to condense that down to under a week, where they’re only rapid fire talking to a few people in a lot less time. So we rewrote our questions, that value alignment was one, another one was looking for people that have the sticktuitiveness or the grit to see something through.

Justin Brown: So that was another characteristic that we really tried to select for quickly, again, by asking questions, hearing stories about people’s projects and passions. And I think one of the heuristics that we really took advantage of was we knew that very few unicorns would exist of people that had experience in our industry, with our technology and that it would take way too much time to try to find people and recruit them that came from our industry. So we thought to ourselves, if we bring on really passionate people, smart people, people that can stand up projects and see them through, they have that sticktuitiveness and their value aligned with us and they’re good communicators and things like that, to enable them to excel in this customer facing capacity, then odds are they’re going to be pretty good and we can teach them along the way. And it’s going to work out, that was our theory. And so those were the elements of our framework.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: So what would be an example of a proxy question that you could ask as far as integrity kind of gain that part of the culture, which is integrity, honesty, what would be an example?

Justin Brown: I think with integrity, that’s more situational. Tell me about a situation where you’ve been working on a project with someone, a lot of people come from school, they’ve done group projects, or in another job or something, where you worked with someone who was being dishonest or when it comes to collaboration or ability to work with other people, can you tell me about a boss that you’ve had, that was not a good boss, right. And I think you can learn a lot about a person based on how they discuss that situation. If they are really bitter about it and they start to badmouth that other person and talk about how horrible it was, [inaudible 00:21:36] was me versus if there’s someone who is more empathetic to a situation. Who’s more respectful looking back on it in hindsight and mature about it.

Justin Brown: There’s a lot of content if you read between the lines. I think the other one that I really like to look at is what are people passionate about outside of work, outside of their day to day. If someone is passionate about a sport or running, or being a triathlete or something like that, to us that’s really cool. If they’re a photographer or they love photo editing or they run a blog about food or whatever that is, that to us is a really powerful signal that, oh, this person has a really keen passion about something. They’ve taught themselves how to do something. And they’ve stuck with something for a while, that’s a signal that they’re going to be a good fit for a role that they have to come into, where they also have to pick up a lot. They have to learn a lot very quickly, and we’re asking them to go on a journey with us for hopefully multiple years.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: I love that. That’s great. Yeah. I could see if someone’s like, yeah, Justin, I do iron man. You’re like, "Okay, this guy is great or women as great."

Justin Brown: Exactly.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: So we get to the customer service. So you triage this and you focus on the hiring process. Now, the next step is, which I don’t want to gloss over, is you have to onboard these people, right. Like you said, okay, we found these people, they fit everything, but they’re not trained on this stuff. So how do you effectively onboard now 15 or 20 people at once?

Justin Brown: And how do you do it a hundred percent virtually when you’ve never worked virtually before?

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: We’ll throw that in the mix. Exactly.

Justin Brown: Exactly. So it became a really difficult problem to solve. And I would be lying if I told you that we knew what we were doing, right. I think we were making best guesses. We were trying and replicating the successes and trying to replace the failures with new approaches as quickly as we could. I think that we very much all had an all hands on deck mentality and the people on our team, we were very fortunate, were working around the clock to get that done because you can’t shortcut the acquisition of knowledge about something. Some things just take time to develop that muscle memory, they take repetitions. And when it comes to answering technical questions about how do integrate my email marketing tool with my webinar service, for example, right. Unless you’re an expert in email marketing tools and webinar services, it’s going to take you at least, be before COVID, I would’ve said at least a couple months, or at least a few weeks to learn it.

Justin Brown: But we saw people learn it in days because they had to, which I think it’s again, another principle from school. And I mentioned before the idea of demand shifting so much. And it was just an academic thing. Another principle from school that was proven for me was the concept in biology and economics of punctuated equilibrium, where things have a tendency to fill the space that they have, where if you have a group project in school, that’s due a month from now, you’re not going to start working on it until two weeks from now. And you’re going to work on it up until the deadline. And that’s the systems throughout the universe have a tendency to exhibit that structure. And that’s exactly what we found that things that used to take us a month to do suddenly we were able to do in two days. And that really made us question all of the assumptions that we had previously been making across our entire business. And so our whole approach to operations and people and training and onboarding is completely different now than it was before.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: What did you do Justin to shortcut that training process? You said before we were doing in month, because we had that time or weeks, and then it became days, what were some things that worked for really training and onboarding very quickly?

Justin Brown: Yep. So I think like there’s two mantras that we use quite a bit. One is crawl, walk, run, right. And understanding that things should be sequential, that people learn best when they can take baby steps first. And one of the missteps that we made along the way was we threw some people into the deep end that weren’t ready to swim in the deep end. And they started drowning, right. And metaphorically speaking. And that was a mistake that we made and we observed that.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: What would be an example of deep end, like they’re on with head of whatever product at Google. And they’re not exactly sure. I mean, what’s deep end look like?

Justin Brown: Not that bad fortune. But in some, I’d say less notable situations, we definitely did have people in front of customers that didn’t know how to answer questions. Fortunately some of their foundational training told them to own it and to [crosstalk 00:27:17].

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: I’ll get back to you, the team will get back to you and not make something up, yeah.

Justin Brown: Exactly. So fortunately we covered that base, but still it’s not a good look to not have the answer. But fortunately though, our customers understood like, "Hey, this is a kid that’s been working here for three weeks." Right. And and this is something, they were in the same shoes that we were, where they weren’t doing. They were doing physical events and across industries, there were all these different use cases that I wasn’t even aware of. They weren’t even on my radar. One big one that comes to mind is financial advisors. Financial advisors for the past thousand years have been meeting face to face with their clients and all of a sudden, and then they have seminars and they have trainings on how to save for college.

Justin Brown: And they would be in the back of the community library and have four families show up on a Tuesday evening. And all of a sudden they had to shift that to a webinar. And these are people that are experts in financial planning. They’re not experts in webinar software, right. So they came on and they’re new to it. And so our new support people were also new to it. And so there was definitely some element of learning together. And I’d say, thankfully in 99.9% of cases, everybody was very generous and very kind with each other on both sides of it.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: I could see the hiring, then we get the onboarding. Now we get to the product on the platform, because like you said, when you grow thousands of percent, then there’s more users, there’s more technical things. Do you feel like you were uniquely positioned for that part? Which part of the process did you feel was maybe the easiest? I’m not saying anyone was easy, but I don’t know, I guess I feel from an outside perspective and I may be totally wrong, I’m like BigMarker, Justin, they have an unfair advantage in this situation because there’s probably some people who can, are used to in the mindset, work from home. They have this platform already been built over a decade at this point. So obviously it’s not ideal just to dump a bunch of users. I mean, it’s a good problem to have, but how was that aspect for you as far as the operations go?

Justin Brown: So looking back in hindsight, I feel great about it because it worked out well and we were able to successfully scale the platform. But trying to put myself back into my shoes at that time, it was incredibly stressful because we had not yet scaled the platform, right. We had the platform, it was running smoothly, it was ready for scalability, but it had not yet been scaled to the point that it needed to be. And what we were learning as you often do, when you start to scale something, is that some of the assumptions you made were right and you’re good to go, but other assumptions you made were wrong and they need revision. And in our industry the stakes are high because it’s real time communication. Our customers are on video in front of their customers and their prospects. So it is as high stake…

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: It’s a lot of pressure. Yeah.

Justin Brown: Yeah, if…

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: And it only takes one small mishap to [inaudible 00:30:46] someone be like forget this platform, is not working, it could be a minute. It doesn’t have [crosstalk 00:30:52].

Justin Brown: I have a great story. I love this. I haven’t told this story yet. So there was… And this was, if you remember what was happening that you think back to April 2020, when everyone was working from home and remember it was going to be two weeks at first and then it wasn’t and we’re all adjusting still. And so I was in my bedroom because we’re in the city, downtown Chicago, we have a small space, my wife and I have two girls at that time, they were four and two. School wasn’t running, daycare, wasn’t running, we’re all at home. And the kids are yelling and running around. It was crazy. And now I say it with a smile on my face. I wasn’t smiling as much about it at the time. So my wife is downstairs at the desk that we had set up and I needed more quiet. So I’m in our bedroom and I’ve got like a chair rigged to the door knob so a kid doesn’t run it.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: It’s like one of those traps, I can see him stepping on it. One of those loops and it just pulls into the ceiling and you’re like, I’m sorry, I can’t help you.

Justin Brown: Exactly.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Hilarious.

Justin Brown: So I’m on and I mean to go back to your other question about how we did that onboarding, right, because this comes into it as well. We didn’t have time to onboard in a test environment. We were onboarding people with live customers in live events because we had to support our customers and train our people at the same time. So I was in events, you saw I was in events, our entire team, software developers, marketing people, sales people, product people, finance people, our entire team was in events, supporting customers. It was really all hands on deck because it had to be. And there was no other choice. And so we’re in there and we’re doing it back to that idea of crawl, walk, run, right. And then the other thought there is around tell someone how to do it, have them watch you do it and then ask them to do it.

Justin Brown: And again kind of a three step process. And then there’s even a four step, where after they do it themselves a couple times and you’ve seen it and you’ve given them feedback and they’ve applied that feedback, then you say, "Okay, you’re good to do it on your own." And minus a couple missteps of letting them get to that step too quickly. And then having to pull back a little bit it mostly works. So I was in one of these events and because of the high profile nature of the event, we had some, this is the story you were asking for previously, when you mentioned the product lead at Google or something, right. We had a couple CEOs of some global hotel chains that were on. And they were talking about the hospitality industry and how travel had completely stopped.

Justin Brown: So it was very high profile, executive level. And so I was leading support on this particular conference that was happening. And I had three or four of our new team members who had been with us for under a month on there as well. And they were, I’d say maybe 50% up to speed at that point. So we all had jobs that we divvied up ahead of time. We all knew who was doing what, who was responsible for which guest presenter, making sure that people were connected. And one of the things, if you remember back in April 2020, the internet was going pretty crazy because AWS was bogged down, Zoom was bogged down, right. They were having all the scalability challenges because… And zoom is much larger than we are. They’re publicly traded company. And they had millions and millions and millions of users every day. But still they hadn’t scaled their platform to the point that they needed to at that point. And so there were weird things that were happening on a daily basis. And also the internet service providers too, with all of the streaming with…

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: People are On Netflix there on… Yeah, exactly. They’re on all everything, I mean, all classrooms at that time are using online too.

Justin Brown: Exactly. Yeah. We had our four year old was on Zoom for class, for school on an iPad. My wife was on a call downstairs or in the evening she’d be on Netflix. And I was on a call constantly. So we had at least three people streaming in our house. And we were part of a development where there must have been 300 people streaming, right. So the bandwidth constraints were nuts. So we have dial-in built in as a service option for audio into our platform. And we use a very well known dial-in provider brand name, high quality, really awesome provider. I won’t throw them under the bus here, but they had an outage that day because they were dealing with the same scaling issues that we were dealing with. So one the CEOs of a global brand name hotel chain he was in Europe and he was dialed in via our dial-in service. And the service went down. And we saw on our dashboard that it went to from green to red and we had this, oh, shit moment, right.

Justin Brown: Where we’re like, what do we do? And we had to think incredibly fast on our feet and what we did was we had his phone number. So we were able to give him a phone call. I made an international phone call, had him on my iPhone, on speakerphone and had had him daisy chained from speakerphone on my iPhone, through the microphone, on my laptop, into the conference. And I don’t think that anyone in the audience realized what had happened. I think that we were able to kind of pivot with grace under pressure and sneak one by, and obviously the audio didn’t sound perfect. But we got it done. And it was a snap second decision. And I think it just came from the intuition of experience, right. The guys on our team that had been with the company for under a month, I don’t think they would’ve thought about that. But it was that 10 years of experience in the business that allowed me to [crosstalk 00:37:45].

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: You went through all these checkpoints of like, okay, we could do this, this, this, this. Okay, this is maybe the ninth option, but that’s our option right now.

Justin Brown: Exactly. I’m glad that you mentioned that, right. Because looking back on it, I think in operations one of the things that we hold near and dear to our hearts is always having a plan B. I think that with this, to your point, plan B, C, D, and E went out the window very quickly in a lot of cases. And a lot of times we were on plans, F,G, if we were lucky, but we made it work.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Yeah. Justin, this is awesome. I want to just be the first one to thank you. This is one, I don’t know if anyone was watching the video, you could see my notes here. This has been a doozy, so I appreciate it. Everyone should check out more episodes of the podcast. Check out SweetProcess, check out and Justin, any other places online, we should point people towards besides BigMarker.

Justin Brown: LinkedIn.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: LinkedIn. All right.

Justin Brown: On LinkedIn.

Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Everyone check it out, Justin, thanks.

Owen: Thank you, Jeremy. Thank you.

Speaker 1: Thanks for listening to the Process Breakdown Podcast. Before you go, quick question, do you want a tool that makes it easy to document processes, procedures, and or policies for your company so that your employees have all the information they need to be successful at their job? If yes, sign up for a free 14 day trial of SweetProcess. No credit card is required to sign up, go to, Sweet like candy and process like Go now to and sign up for your risk free 14 day trial.

Owen: Hi, this is Owen, the CEO and co-founder here at SweetProcess. If you’ve enjoyed listening to this podcast interview, actually you know what I want you to do? Go ahead and leave us a five star review on iTunes. That way we get more people aware of the good stuff that you get here on this podcast. Again, go on to iTunes and leave us a five star review. Looking forward to reading your review. Have a good day.

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