Former Vice President of BASES Joshua Reeves and his co-founders are three years into a sleek project shaping the landscape of payroll. Reeves and Stanford alumni, Tomer London and Edward Kim, founded ZenPayroll in 2011 and since then, have embarked on a journey to simplify payday for small businesses. Since the company’s beginnings in fall 2011, its valuation has increased to around $100 to $150 million. As of February 2014, ZenPayroll has been processing $400 million for mostly small businesses.
Managing Editor of TechCrunch Leena Rao called ZenPayroll a “disruptive company” in the niche of payroll companies such as Paychex, Intuit Payroll, and ADP.
In a TechCrunch interview, Reeves attributed ZenPayroll’s success to none other than the entrepreneurial spirit.
“For us [co-founders], we had this shared mindset. Whenever we see this problem, we’re frustrated by something, and our backgrounds are in technology, we know that we can make it better,” Reeves said.
Not only had Reeves, London, and Kim already founded start-ups before, but each had family members who owned small businesses. They realized that many businesses manage payroll on paper and spreadsheets—a complex task—and decided that perhaps they could simplify the problem through software.
Yet entrepreneurship is not just about solving a problem. It is also about rethinking a problem. For its co-founders, ZenPayroll was also about bringing back the celebration of payday. They wanted to make it more about the people, and celebrating their work because “people want their work to mean something,” Reeves said.
Keeping this personal element in mind, ZenPayroll has a minimalist design for ease of use to replace impersonal checks and balance sheets. The software uses visuals to help users understand pay stubs and places emphasis on the elegance of employee onboarding.
Internally, ZenPayroll runs on a company culture built upon six core values: ownership mentality, don’t optimize for the short term, we are all builders, go the extra mile, do what’s right, and be transparent. Because the company is meant to be the life-long project of Reeves, London, and Kim, these values are meant for long-term problem solving, and are applicable in everything from fundraising to hiring.
Like their approach to the product, the co-founders aim to create a human experience for the company. To create a community, the company relocated to San Francisco and provided a housing stipend to employees who lived close to the headquarters. To celebrate their employees, the company presents airline tickets for their one-year anniversaries. To build a team, the company hosts a semi-annual “Workation”—a five-day company vacation-slash-hackathon.
From company product to company culture, ZenPayroll aims to be both humanizing and innovative in its approach. Reeves said, “It’s really never accepting the status quo, but wanting to improve it.”