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TecHRseries Interview with Nicole Hayward, Founder & CPO/CMO of Minim

Companies today have found new and creative ways to engage with employees in a more meaningful way, physical locations and distances don’t need to matter anymore when it comes to enforcing an employee centric work culture. Nicole Hayward, Cofounder & CPO/CMO of Minim joins TecHRseries for a quick chat on Minim’s journey and how HR Tech can help boost workplace engagement.

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Tell us a little about yourself Nicole …we’d love to hear about your biggest takeaways from your journey in tech!

I started my journey to tech at Carnegie Mellon University, where I received degrees in Materials Science Engineering and Engineering and Public Policy. Post-college, I began a career with L’Oreal USA in a management training program for engineers.

As cloud software began eating the world, I moved to the NYC area for a project management role at a software agency. There, I collaborated with my client, a Fortune 500 digital marketing team, on projects including: a major rebrand, their first mobile app unveiling, and an interactive billboard in Times Square.

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This background is what led to my becoming the head of marketing at then-software startup OnSIP with a hand in product and business strategy as well as talent recruitment. After my time spent with OnSIP, I moved on to become the CMO of Antidote, and then the co-founder and CPO/CMO at Minim. I am very passionate about Minim. We’re on a mission to make home WiFi as safe and reliable as drinking water. With all the new extremely hackable smart gadgetry and shifts to remote working, we’ve found AI-driven home networking technologies like Minim are direly needed.

Can you share your thoughts on the recent Telarus-Minim partnership and how it benefits business end users – this comes at a time when the need for better employee engagement and productivity software is on the rise due to remote work and Covid-19…in what other ways are you seeing HR Tech boost business capabilities during this pandemic influenced downtime?

 While the office network has exploded into employee homes, unfortunately, IT support has not. Together, Minim and Telarus are setting out to change that, providing productivity enhancements and cybersecurity to remote workforces. There are no more dropped Zoom conference calls or slow browsing. Instead, expect high-quality and secure data transfers that will increase both performance and employee satisfaction.

Here’s how it works: the employee is given a Minim-powered WiFi system, such as the Motorola MH7022, to deliver fast speeds throughout the home at a fraction of the cost of enterprise hardware. In addition to the hardware, the employee is granted the ability to troubleshoot and manage their home network with an intuitive mobile app—the Minim® Remote Assistant.

On the business management side, the IT department is empowered with a unified management cloud application, Minim® Edge Extend. This web application helps the business monitor the health, security, and activity on their distributed Minim network. It also provides the ability to remotely troubleshoot issues, providing employees the IT assistance they need just as if they were in the office.

The Minim solution is an example of the new kinds of technology that employers now need to consider to keep employees engaged, productive, and satisfied. I think this is only the beginning; many business technology providers have to rethink the unique challenges team distribution presents. HR Tech will play a major role in team connection and cohesion.

As the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic play out over the next few months, what capabilities will marketing / sales / HR teams need more of from their tech stacks? In the near-future: what according to you will be some of the must-have technologies that B2B organizations would swear by?

One area I see growing is employee engagement technology. At Minim, we’ve embraced getting together virtually outside of work. We use an app called Donut through Slack, which randomly pairs team members on the regular for a virtual meetup over coffee (or doughnuts!) It’s had a great success rate so far, and we continue to look for other innovative platforms to foster social connection.

Next, let’s talk about cybersecurity. These teams, especially HR, need cybersecurity technology on their home networks as they access sensitive employee and client information. Common attack vectors from simple phishing emails to sophisticated malware pose major threats that traditional security measures (such as VPN and antivirus) don’t mitigate. What’s needed is a Defense-in-Depth strategy and comprehensive remote worker security solutions. Now for a real outward-facing business need: event management. Covid-19 has thrown a major wrench for event-driven marketing, sales, and talent recruitment. Normally, Minim connects with partners and customers at trade shows. We’re exploring more with virtual events now.

Telarus’s Race to the Summit is a gamified virtual event to engage their wide partner and vendor base.  Facilitated by a mobile app, there’s a value-packed sponsorship model and significant prizes to be won— including a Tesla! I’ve been thoroughly impressed by Telarus’s innovation and have an eye out for further advancements in virtual event technology.

How do you see this pandemic impact the global talent and work marketplace in tech / B2B?

There’s certainly a lot of change. We all know the bad news: market impacts have squeezed several tech sectors, such as traveling and coworking, as well as financial capital available to startups. As a result, we’ve seen both layoffs and more talent availability.

From a positive perspective, the pandemic is sparking innovation in new areas and evolving corporate mindsets to supporting distributed teams. In tech, this could lead to less geographic concentration of talent in hubs such as Silicon Valley, which is great news for startups that face the traditional tall barriers to entry: high commercial property costs, high salary requirements to meet steep living costs, and stiff competition for local talent against the FANGs (Facebook, Apple, Netflix, Google).

At Minim, we embrace geographically distributed teams so we can find exceptional people with diverse backgrounds. The world has a huge talent pool. With today’s collaboration technology, it’s so easy to stay connected.

Could you take us through some of the process / team changes Minim has undertaken during this downtime – to help boost employee coordination and motivation?

Sure. Firstly, we’ve strengthened our intern program with more openings, streamlined onboarding, and structured projects. To build a talent pipeline, we’ve encouraged employee referrals and built relationships within colleges and talent diversity initiatives.

Another big change has been to halt most business travel. This was painful at first for our business development efforts, but necessary to prioritize our team’s health.

Lastly, the pandemic has necessitated that our managers hone an acute focus on employee wellbeing. We have developed assistance programs and forums to address new and increased life pressures, and we regularly reinforce our commitment to work-life harmony. Keeping an open discussion about stressful matters that may be affecting employees like Zoom fatigue, parenting while working, and especially deeper societal issues such as racial injustice is paramount at Minim.

A few general thoughts that you’d share for businesses worldwide to help deal with the current world pandemic?

Act fast – We were one of the first startups in both our local and our virtual communities to put out a memo, close down the office, re-open the office with proper COVID-19 policies, and keep our employees informed each step of the way. To do so thoughtfully, we engaged all of senior leadership to review decisions and communications.

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Develop a culture of open communication – Address concerns ranging from business operations (e.g. supply chain snags, reduced sales activities) to employee satisfaction (e.g. burnout) and beyond.

Adapt – Consider what aspects of your products or services may be most helpful to society in this new world. At Minim, we identified that the pandemic would force distributed working en masse and launched our remote security and management solution in Spring 2020.

Get on board with employee distribution – Minim publishes our best practices in our blogs, and there are many other companies who’ve also led the way. I really recommend taking a look at GitHub’s All-Remote Playbook for a great example.

Look for partnerships – We are geographically divided, but we are globally experiencing similar challenges. Look for synergies in your product and go-to-market strategies to create a bigger tide raising more boats. That’s what we did with Telarus– we partnered to reach businesses with our Bring Your Own Network™ solution.

Minim

Minim is an IoT platform that enables and secures a better connected home. In a world where connected devices have outnumbered people, Minim’s self-learning platform employs proprietary fingerprinting and behavioral models to detect threats before they become problems. Founded in 2017, Minim offers usable apps for consumers and businesses to protect connected devices and optimize WiFi performance. The company is now partnering with ISPs, managed service providers, distributed businesses, and device manufacturers who want to help make home connectivity as safe and reliable as drinking water. 

Nicole Hayward is Founder and CMO of Minim, an IoT platform company that enables and secures a better connected home, where she leads both marketing and product. Prior to Minim, Nicole led marketing at software companies Antidote and OnSIP and served as a board member of Alliance of Channel Women, formerly Women in the Channel, a nonprofit that supports women in technology. Nicole holds two bachelor’s degrees in engineering from Carnegie Mellon University. She now resides in Southampton, NY.