Featured Company: SupportNinja [transcript] [audio]

Guest: Connor Tomkies

Presenter: Henry Acosta

Guest Bio: Connor Tomkies started out young in the realm of entrepreneurship and has launched multiple startups already (he built his first company when he was 12!) and now he is onto his next venture with his partner, Cody McLain. Cody is the founder of SupportNinja and appointed Conor as the CEO! With both their knowledge and experience, SupportNinja has grown to quite a remarkable size in the span of two years as they provide customer care and back-office solutions to clients all over the world!

Segment Overview: SupportNinja is a BPO firm that provides customer care and back-office solutions to any sized business all over the world! With offices both in the US and the Philippines, they work hand in hand to provide affordable, efficient and sustainable solutions to their clients at the nick of time.

Address: North America – 503 Neches Street, Austin, TX 78701 || Asia – 1F-4 Business Center 10, Philexcel Business Park, Clark Freeport Zone, Philippines 2023

Contact: INTL-  (800) 594-7695 || [email protected]

Website: www.supportninja.com

To know more about SupportNinja, listen to the podcast below!

Our talk with Connor begins at the 1:40 mark of the podcast.

Henry Acosta:  Hi. You’re listening to the Outsourcing and Offshoring Philippines podcast and I am Henry Acosta the host of the podcast. Our guest today joining us from all the way from the United States is Connor Tomkies. He is the CEO of Support Ninja and he’s joining us today to talk about Support Ninja and why it’s great to outsource here in the Philippines. With all that said, thank you so much for coming on the show Connor. It’s really early in the morning right now.

Connor Tomkies:  Yes. It’s been a long night.

Henry Acosta:  Yes it is. Great to have you on the show. Thank you for joining us. Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself and what you do for Support Ninja?

Connor Tomkies:  I am the CEO at Support Ninja. I got my entrepreneurship background, started pretty young. I started my first company when I was 12. I started a non-profit that essentially helped out with disaster relief efforts. After there was a hurricane or an earthquake, we would gather resources and try to help out anyway we could. After that I made a concierge company called Delegated which helped out with short-term vacation rentals, kind of helping them get wine on the beach, a neighbor pickup and it was all through our mobile app. Then I helped make a dog genetics company called Embark Vet, that is kind of designed to help dogs live longer and we used the information that we get from the dogs to help cure diseases that also impact humans so like certain types of cancer. Then after that I met up with my partner Cody and he was trying this outsourcing business called Support Ninja and I thought it sounded very interesting and I jumped on a flight to go to the Philippines and fell in love with it.  I’ve been doing that ever since.

Henry Acosta:  Wow. That sounds really cool and it sounds like you have a lot in your hands.

Connor Tomkies:  Yes. It’s been keeping me busy.

Henry Acosta:  How long have you been working on Support Ninja?

Connor Tomkies:  Support Ninja is roughly two and a half years old. We’re about  450 employees and we have around 45 different clients.

Henry Acosta:  It’s really impressive. You have a very young firm and you’re already halfway to the 1000 employee mark. Can you tell us about Support Ninja. What are the services that you offer?

Connor Tomkies:  Our main three services are back-office support, customer service and then platform moderation. Customer service probably makes up 65 percent of our business.

Henry Acosta:  I see. Are your clients mainly from the United States or do you have clients from other parts of the world?

Connor Tomkies:  We have clients from all around the world –  Brazil, Norway, Australia, you name it. Most of our clients are from the United States because that’s where one of our offices is located. We’re in Austin, Texas. We have a lot of clients in Silicon Valley, Texas, Canada, kind of the North America region.

Henry Acosta:  Sounds great. I was just wondering since you’re from the US and I’m sure when you hear about outsourcing and the BPO industry, the Philippines is not the first country that pops up in your mind.

Connor Tomkies:  Yes.

Henry Acosta:  What made you end up choosing the Philippines as the place to start your firm?

Connor Tomkies:  The Philippines is fantastic. If you just look at it from a historical perspective too, I mean the Philippines and the United States has a fantastic and long history together. The Philippines used to have a lot of US military. We fought side by side during the Spanish War, during the occupation and we share a lot of some more cultures. If you go to like a Filipino shopping mall, it’s very similar to like an American shopping mall. The same as like we have a lot of famous Filipino comedians and entertainers in the United States. We have like Jo Koy and all those guys. There’s a pretty close relationship there and whenever someone goes to you looking for customer service or for outsourcing they want something that’s some more. They want something that feels like an extension of their own team and by being in the Philippines we can provide that to them.

Henry Acosta:  I see. When inquiring prospective clients come to you, I’m sure they’re already interested in outsourcing but they’re not fully committed to the idea yet. Can you tell us about what their usual objections are that prevent them from saying yes to outsourcing already?

Connor Tomkies:  The biggest objections that we usually get is round comfort. They really want to make sure that the quality is the same as where they started out from. Also a lot of clients are worried about distancing themselves from their product. For a lot of companies, we work with young companies and big, fortune 500 companies especially the small ones. They’re worried about losing touch because the first time that there’s a problem, the first place you’re going to see that is in the support take a queue. If there’s like a faulty switch on a product, if there’s a link that doesn’t work, your customers are the ones that find it and usually were the people that find it first especially when you outsource. That’s one of the biggest fears.

Henry Acosta:  Can you tell us about the benefits of outsourcing specifically doing it here in the Philippines?

Connor Tomkies:  Yes, definitely. Other benefits are definitely like it’s efficient. You get to bring on people onto your team, more people than you would be able to in the United States and that’s very unviable for startups and young companies who don’t have the resources to have a big team. Here they can provide a level of service that they wouldn’t normally be able to provide. Also because there’s so much experience and there’s so much of a BPO culture here, you can get someone that I mean most of the people on our team in our company here are better at customer service and our counterparts in the United States. Like some of our clients they’re setting them benchmarks based on what the team here in the Philippines does, not on what the US team does. That’s kind of what we want to see. It’s not inferior, it’s not equal, it’s better here than it is there.

Henry Acosta:  That sounds really cool.  Can you tell us about your clients and their interaction with their employees? Do you they ever go here and give their employees some hands-on training and even do some team-building with them?

Connor Tomkies:  Yes, I have a client that’s actually maybe 5 feet away from my door right now. They’re from a company called Top Hat and they’re here working with their team now. He’s been here for the past two weeks. We really encourage all of our clients to kind of come in. We have an open-door policy so they’re welcome to come in anytime.

Henry Acosta:  That sounds awesome and I mean about your clients. About your clients, tell us about what kind of clients are you looking for? Are you looking for a client with a certain size business? Do you go for or are you cool with having clients who are already big or what about the smaller size businesses?

Connor Tomkies:  That’s a good question. That’s something that we’re different than most BPOs. We work with all clients of all different sizes. We work from clientele only have one agent to clients that have over a hundred agents. One of our mottos in the way that we’re built is that we help scale. We help you scale. We help you take a small team size and make them into big team size. We help you go from 0 to 60 if you will.

Henry Acosta:  Can you tell us about your clients’ experience and have you ever had clients used to work for or who used to work with other BPO first and then started working with you? Can they really tell the difference between Support Ninja and their previous BPO provider?

Connor Tomkies:  Yes, that’s a lot of questions. Whenever they come here we usually try to make sure that everything is taken care of for them. Like we give them itinerary like top things to do in the Philippines. Sometimes they might go on a trip to Boracay. I hope I pronounced that correctly, in Palawan and Coron and they definitely go see Pinatubo because we’re here in the Luzon and Angeles area. There’s a lot of cool things to go see and do while they’re here. About what makes us different and what the clients say about us whenever they move from another BPO, is we’re a very technology focused company. Not sure they probably can’t see what I look like but I’m pretty young. I’m only 24 years old and so my background is more in technology and using technology to scale processes. Our ramp up time is shorter. They can get going in two weeks, two to four weeks and that’s usually shorter than most BPOs. Also because of the way that we use technology we can customize it a little bit more for them. Our job profiles are built out automatically, the interviews get sent out and scheduled automatically and approval gets sent out automatically and everything is coordinated kind of seamless, as seamless as possible. The clients really recognize that and they appreciate the flexibility but also the speed and efficiency of it. Also we cater a lot to them, I mean like not many BPOs where you get a chance, well the agent get a chance to not only talk to me and the management staff but also the client and a regular basis. There’s a lot of close interaction. It’s very personal and both the agents and the clients seem to love that. They have their own inside jokes and their own company culture inside the company.

Henry Acosta:  I’m sure people who are listening right now and they’re looking to get employed, they would really want to work for Support Ninja. Especially hearing it or hearing about the experience straight from the CEO.

Connor Tomkies:  I hope so. We also have this three pillar program. Three pillars of Support Ninja are philanthropy, social activities and professional development. Every week we have some activity that they can do and it’s entirely up to them if they want to do it but it’s kind of nice to know that you have something to do either during the week or over the weekend if you want to, right?

Henry Acosta:  Yes, that’s true. Well since we’re talking about employee already. What is it that you look for in an employee who is looking to work for Support Ninja?

Connor Tomkies:  That’s a good question. Our core values is essentially what we look for in every employee. Our core values are client centric and employee focused, improve every day, always be humble, you can’t learn if you’re not humble and a no-bullshit. If you embody those values, oh, the last ones collectively bring joy. If you embody those values and you’re very passionate about helping other people, but also working and with tech companies and startups and kind of having a more diversified day to day activity, then we’re definitely the company for you and we also look for that in the interview. If you’re cracking jokes and making us laugh and you’re definitely someone that we want to spend the day with.

Henry Acosta:  Do you get a chance to talk to the employees before they get hired or once they get hired?

Connor Tomkies:  Yes, all the time. I’m the final interview often actually, you’ll talk to me. It depends. I’m here 5 to 6 times a year so they’ll see me walking around and whenever I’m in the states just video calls and stuff like that.

Henry Acosta:  That’s awesome and that sounds like you are building a very close-knit company culture and even though you are already at around 400-500 employees.

Connor Tomkies:  Yes, we’re getting up there. I think a lot of our clients are ramping up but yes we work out on the floor and I actually brought my entire US staff here with me so everyone’s here – our sales, our client services. They’re all here and they’re working side by side with the Philippines staff.

Henry Acosta:  It sounds to me like you that are growing a lot and are you planning on opening another branch somewhere else in the Philippines or expanding?

Connor Tomkies:  Yes, definitely. I think probably in the next year or so. We’ll be looking at other locations outside of Clark. We’re also getting a newer office here in Clark soon in November. Definitely and also hopefully we’ll expand to different countries and people can go in exchange and work in different places.

Henry Acosta:  Global offices sound really cool.

Connor Tomkies:  You can go work in Ireland or something.

Henry Acosta:  For those curious about your whereabouts. Can you tell our listeners where your offices are located here in the Philippines?

Connor Tomkies:  Yes. Our offices is in Luzon, North of Manila and place called Clark which is an old Air Force military base.

Henry Acosta:  Thanks for letting them know and you have a takeaway message that you’d like to leave to all our listeners right now?

Connor Tomkies:  Yes. I mean just find a company that is as passionate about you as you are about them. You have options and you want to find a place that you can kind of call your home for a while and so that’s only I guess I have to say.

Henry Acosta:  For those curious and for those who want to talk to Support Ninja and even get in touch with you Connor, can you tell us the best way to do that?

Connor Tomkies:  Yes, you can find me on Twitter at @ctomkies and also supportninja.com is our main website. Our job board is ninjapartners.com and we also have a pretty active social media presence as well. You can reach out to me personally or you can reach up to anyone here at the company and they’ll be glad to help you out.

Henry Acosta:  That’s all our questions for today and thank you so much for coming on the show Connor, it was great having you join us today.

Connor Tomkies:  Thank you for having me Henry. Take care guys.

Henry Acosta:  That was Connor Tomkies, the CEO of Support Ninja. We just finished talking about the Philippines and why it’s such a great place to outsource to. If you want to get to know more about Support Ninja please visit their website at www.supportninja.com. If you liked this interview you can find us at www.offshoring.com.ph and you can check out all the other BPO firms that’s been on the show. I’m Henry Acosta and you’ve been listening to the Outsourcing and Offshoring Philippines podcast.