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Fleetyr turns three: 3 lessons we’ve learned

We just turned three!

We’re celebrating not just by blowing out candles, but also commemorating what we’ve accomplished in just three short years and taking a beat to reflect on what we’ve learned.

We chatted with Fleetyr co-founders Tim and Brodie to hear their top three lessons since launching Fleetyr.

Tim Hill

Tim Hill

Co-founder & Chief Executive Officer

Lesson 1: Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not

In the early days, it’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind. Everyone is keen to find out more about the new player on the scene and you have a lot of people you need to impress very quickly, and it’s tempting to let your ego take the wheel, where you might find yourself talking a bigger game than you’re comfortable playing.

For me, that meant trying to fit a mould of a know-it-all tech bro harping on about the number one product everyone should get their hands on — but that’s not who I naturally am and I don’t believe in having an inauthentic persona to sell a product.

I’ve learned both in the last 3 years at Fleetyr and in the 10 years in startup prior, that a product is an extension and reflection of who you are as a founder, and it’s important to let some of your own personality and values shine through the business. For us, the personality we try to show the world through Fleetyr is our sense of humour, the way we don’t take ourselves too seriously, and (hopefully) the fact that we’re just average approachable (and ruggedly handsome) blokes.

People invest in people, and in the tech and startup world especially, inauthenticity tends to unravel a business and it never ends well when you’re playing a caricature of who you think people want to see.

Lesson 2: You have to actually be good mates with your business partner

When people say “It’s just business”, it’s bullsh*t. You can’t run a business with someone you don’t like or someone you don’t think highly of. It just won’t work.

Brodie and I have built something I genuinely think is special, and we would not have been able to get this far if we weren’t actually good mates. Having a strong bond with each other meant that when times were hard we never gave up on each other, and when times are easy we still feel care and responsibility to keep working hard on the product and keep each other accountable.

It’s not just that we have a shared vision of Fleetyr and what success looks like, both of us also have our hearts in it and deeply believe in each other’s different skill sets. Without that we wouldn’t be able to trust each other to autonomously do what we need to do to make this business a success, and we wouldn’t be able to laugh or shrug things off when we need to.

Lesson 3: Practice what you preach

We’re still a young company, and to be very honest, there’s a whole lot we’re still figuring out. But one thing I can certainly say we do well is practising what we preach.

We constantly tell our customers how important it is to have their fleet running efficiently, to use the latest in fleet innovation, and to leverage powerful data metrics to elevate their operations.

We translate this into our own operations by being ruthlessly efficient with our own resources. Having the right tech in-house helps us streamline our processes, and being data-obsessed nerds in real life means we are always analysing what we do behind the scenes and finding ways to be better.

I believe that by holding ourselves to the same standards we champion for our clients, we can actually ensure our solutions are truly effective because they’re built on a foundation of efficiency that we ourselves have meticulously honed. It’s about leading by example, not just by instruction.

Brodie Ruttan

Brodie Ruttan

Co-founder & Chief Analytics Officer

Lesson 1: Check your ego

I learned early that being informed does not mean the same thing as informing — the same way you can’t learn from others when all you do is talk. The minute you think you have all the answers or are smarter than everyone, you immediately close yourself off to this incredible wealth of knowledge and experience that comes from your team.

Finding teammates and partners you can both work with and learn from over a long period of time is one of the best feelings in the world, and that starts with trusting that your partner is knowledgeable and confident in their skill set.

I’ve trusted Tim for years now because what he says he’ll do, he really does, and what he says will happen, really comes true. It’s a refreshing experience to be able to check your ego at the door and listen to my business partner to learn new processes, strategies and paradigms that aren’t my wheelhouse.

Lesson 2: Stop and smell the roses

I’m not from the startup world. My background lies in more formal corporations spanning multiple countries and continents, you know the kind — the celebratory team-wide pizza lunch, the cookie-cutter office Christmas party, the typical year-end retreat for the sales team.

One thing I noticed that never occurred in any of those places was that people never really gave each other (or themselves) a pat on the back for doing good work, and they never stopped to genuinely appreciate the amazing things they’ve built together as a team. This is something we make sure we do differently at Fleetyr.

Tim and I have both made sacrifices to build a successful startup, so it’s more important than ever to remember to take some time (without rushing!) now and again to enjoy it together and not only remind ourselves why we’re doing what we’re doing, but also that we’re doing a pretty good job at it. Be it a coffee break, a bucket of golf balls at the driving range, a nice dinner, whatever. It matters; being intentional, reflective and appreciative of each other and our work matters.

Lesson 3: Bigger doesn’t mean better

I’ve spent the past 3 years working in our customers’ data sets: cleaning them, connecting them, and routing them. You’ll be surprised how many large businesses don’t actually have good data practices under the hood.

Maybe under 5% of the companies we work with really do it well. As for the others, there is just so much inconsistency in their data and among data providers across all sectors, that every dataset might as well be a different person. 3 years later and we are still constantly running into incorrect data instruction, or multiple versions of outdated documentation, or API systems that either don’t work anymore or don’t work as intended. They all provide a different level of detail, some usable and others not at all. And we’re talking about some of the biggest providers in the world here!

When I started to run into OEM car manufacturers whose data connections were broken, or when large-scale telematics companies were returning erroneous data, it would take me weeks to get the point across to them that indeed their systems are broken. Only then did I start to understand that I’ve been through enough of these situations that I can now push the likes of multi-billion dollar companies into realising the service they believe their providing is in fact broken. And only then can we do what we do best and help them get it right.

At the same time, what we’ve learned indirectly from these large companies that tend to be over-resourced is that our own team doesn’t need to be big and expensive. We stay nimble and lean by having clear directions and efficient processes to ensure things are smooth. One saying we try to remind ourselves of regularly is: “Are we closing the ticket, or are we solving the problem?”

Nadia Nyaz

Nadia is a marketing ops, brand and content specialist in the tech industry, with a personal interest in seeing how technology and creativity can intersect to create a more sustainable future. Connect with Nadia.