Company Q&A: Bolton Remote
In the November 2021 Human Resources (HR) & Staffing Services Market Update, Capstone highlighted factors influencing merger and acquisition (M&A) activity in the space, including how the Remote Staffing segment has greatly benefited from the rapid shift of workplace dynamics following the COVID-19 pandemic, an indicator of strong M&A performance in the segment. This has been demonstrated by the Capstone Partners-advised sale of Bolton Remote to BV Investment Partners-backed SupportNinja in March 2022. We interviewed Bolton Remote Founder & CEO Patrick Linton (MBA) to discuss business operations, how the Outsourcing industry has evolved, and the recent influx of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) companies that are leveraging outsourced customer success solutions.
Interview with Patrick Linton, Founder & CEO of Bolton Remote
What is your background and professional experience in the Outsourcing sector?
I started my career as a Management Consultant with Accenture in San Francisco where I got involved with a project for BellSouth, which had been acquired by AT&T. I was doing data analytics on their call center network which included a variety of outsourcing vendors and call centers such as Convergys and Sitel. That project led me to be part of a team that was sent to Baguio in Northern Philippines. That is where I got my start working in the Philippines and the wider Outsourcing space. After that, I spent more time with Accenture working on different projects in Singapore, Japan, and India. I was fortunate to be exposed to a wide variety of different projects before I decided to leave and start my own company.
What were your initial motivations for founding Bolton Remote?
After five years at Accenture helping Fortune 500 clients achieve their goals through outsourcing, I realized that there wasn’t a good solution on the market to help fast-growing technology companies reap the same benefits. At the time (early 2013), a lot of freelancer platforms like Upwork, Fivver, and TopTal were gaining traction; and while these platforms are great for connecting companies with a global talent pool, they did not ensure the success of that talent, nor were they easy to use at scale. That was a problem I knew how to solve and that is where Bolton got its start. As our business grew, we learned a lot about our place in the market and why we really exist. Determined to carve out a space for ourselves in a crowded industry that was built upon the concept of labor arbitrage for lower-level task-work, we instead focused on what really matters: people and their potential. We were motivated to create amazing opportunities for companies to connect with high-skilled people they normally wouldn’t be able to access, and vice versa.
How do venture capital funding levels for software companies influence your operations?
Where the money flows is very important for us to track. Our growth has coincided with the exponential growth of software companies. When a SaaS company raises $10, $20, $30 million in venture capital the expectation is not to keep operations status quo, rather they now need to accelerate at an unprecedented pace. The constraints of growth, other than ramping up sales and acquiring customers, often pertain to Customer Success. How quickly can you onboard new customers? What is your ability to service them? How will you renew, grow, and retain them over time? The services we deliver revolve around those key areas of Customer Success.
How has the Outsourcing industry evolved since the founding of Bolton Remote, and what are the key drivers?
Over the last 10 years I have learned to view the Outsourcing industry as not an industry, but a tool; that (when used correctly) can be very effective for almost any company. A decade ago, everything was focused around the concept of labor arbitrage. Outsourcing providers designed their services to give large companies access to talent in developing markets in order to cut costs. But in recent years, customer experience has become king, and, especially in SaaS, companies are not willing to sacrifice or give up control of their customer experience, no matter how big the cost savings are. This has pushed outsourcing providers to focus less on location or costs (although still a factor) and really double down on skills.
COVID-19 has also accelerated (and expanded) many companies’ views on what it means to have a truly global workforce. This has given way for increased demand for carefully crafted outsourcing services like Bolton Remote.
What are the main challenges in offshore outsourcing, and how have you differentiated your business to address these?
At its core, outsourcing is about people and processes. So almost all challenges can be traced back to people not being set up for success, or a breakdown of processes, and, in many cases, both.
We’ve managed against these challenges by building a delivery model that is centered around our people, their potential and well-defined processes. We have a very thoughtfully designed employee experience that stands out from the status quo; resulting in industry-leading ESAT and retention rates, which in return, delivers increased value to our customers. Parallel to that, over the years, we have developed, and continually refined our processes and playbooks to ensure that our customers are set up for success. Many of our customers have never leveraged outsourcing before engaging with us, so we have crafted a ready-made solution that combines deep subject matter expertise (e.g. our people) and a proven formula for success (e.g. our processes).
What are the short-term and long-term impacts of COVID-19 on the Outsourcing sector?
Many, if not most, in the Outsourcing sector were ill-prepared for a work-from-home set up that COVID-19 demanded. Poor contingency planning, shared workstations, lack of trust, unreliable infrastructure, and a rigid management mindset meant that many outsourcing firms struggled (and in some cases, refused) to transition to a work- from-home model. At Bolton, we viewed COVID-19 as an acceleration of trends that were already in motion, and we were able to transition to a fully remote model within 72 hours. As with many developing nations, the vaccine rollout in the Philippines is slow, so a safe return to the office doesn’t seem likely until at least mid-2022.
Long term, I think we need to reflect on how outsourced work can be and should be delivered in a post-COVID world. Will we return to the office? Sure. Does every hour of work need to happen inside of the walls of a corporate headquarters? Absolutely not.
About Patrick Linton (MBA)
Patrick started his career at Accenture (NYSE:ACN), working as a Management Consultant for contact center clients. Mr. Linton currently acts as CEO of Bolton Remote, providing scalable Customer Success teams to high-growth, customer-obsessed SaaS companies.
About Bolton Remote
Bolton Remote delivers streamlined, transparent, and cost-effective customer success solutions to venture capital-backed SaaS companies. Founded in 2013, Bolton Remote now has nearly 1,000 team members across the Philippines and their newly launched second site in Ireland. To learn more about Bolton Remote visit boltonremote.com
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