David Scheine understands growth.
David Scheine, Country Manager Australia, Podium.
Hailing from Google during its massive progress of 2005-2010, Scheine has continued to work with companies that match his ability to scale and scale fast. ‘I’m all about scale and growth,’ he grins, a confidence that comes from what he attributes to ‘being really lucky even through the GFC.’
Right now, he leads the Australian arm of Podium, one of the fastest-growing companies in the US over the past three years. Podium specialises in messaging services for businesses, streamlining the online review, customer interaction and payment process systems. Very specific verticals close the loop in communications capacity for many small-to-medium businesses, from auto dealers to dentists, plumbers and even market stall holders. By occupying this niche, Podium supports traditional ‘analogue’ businesses to adopt a more streamlined approach to marketing and communications, and enables them to enter the online space.
Assistance with this complex migration of customers has been eagerly embraced by businesses across the world. Since its inception six and a half years ago, Podium now staffs 1,000 people globally. Entering the Australian market just two years ago, the company was gaining traction remotely from its base in Utah. The time-zone was a barrier, however, as work hours stretched to 2am and beyond for the local team.
Which is where Scheine enters. Flying in as Australian manager of the company, the team has grown from 5 to 65, flourishing over half a year – all during a pandemic.
One of the first problems Scheine needed to solve was where to base Podium HQ in Australia. A traditional commercial lease was a tricky proposition, with variables changing rapidly. Estimating staff growth, government restrictions and being unable to fly US staff to design and fit-out a longer-term lease were some of the factors that made Work Club a clear choice for Scheine. ‘It just gives us a lot more flexibility,’ he explains.
‘The advantage is in the flexibility to scale quicker,’ Scheine says, ‘With a business like Podium the question is whether we’re going to double or triple headcount and that makes it really hard to walk into a five-year lease when you’re not sure what the timeline for your growth is.’ In contrast, Work Club is designed to facilitate changing circumstances. As well, Work Club’s responsibility of the G&A in the building makes a massive difference to Scheine. ‘To be in an environment where we’re exposed to other businesses that are like-minded is helpful as well,’ being a partner-friendly organisation, says Scheine. For companies entering the Australian market, Work Club allows instant access to businesses on the ground.
Podium are one of Work Club Olderfleet’s biggest tenant. When Scheine signed up in late 2020, however, the Victorian Government wasn’t allowing workers back into the office. ‘We were fully remote’ says Scheine, and then restrictions eased gradually, starting with 25% capacity. ‘People liked Work Club so much that every day we had a waitlist.’ Coupled with the ability to develop a workplace culture once more, Scheine’s team responded hugely to the physical space and facilities of Olderfleet. ‘They love coming into that environment,’ says Scheine. ‘In our previous office, I don’t know if everyone would have wanted to come in every day.
Since working from Olderfleet, Scheine has hired thirty new staff for Podium. Having been incredibly busy, Scheine has made use of Work Club’s staff, ‘who have been awesome to work with.’ His team are enjoying opportunities to interact with other members in the building, through Florence Guild events and shared spaces such as Valhalla.
For the Podium team, a typical day at Work Club begins with coffee at SAGAS, ‘We have about 20 people from the team lining up to get flat whites’ Scheine laughs. Kickstarting his team’s day of sales, Scheine has found a way to scale, no matter the circumstances.