As a two-man team starting out, the co-founders of Made In were wearing a lot of hats. It turned out the last hat they wanted to wear was an HR hat.
The co-founders of Made In, Chip Malt and Jake Kalick, have known each other a long time. “We grew up together,” said Chip. “We’ve known each other since we were five.”
It’s a lot of history. And it meant that when Chip was ready to transition from his job running ecommerce for an apparel brand to start his own business in cookware, he knew who to partner with. “I knew the ecommerce space, but I didn’t know about the kitchen space. Basically the minute I called, he said ‘absolutely.’”
Jake’s family business is in restaurant wholesale. After years of requests from friends asking for wholesale rates on top cookware brands, he knew the demand was there. Everyone wanted the product, but nobody wanted to pay the price tag attached to premium cookware. To fill that gap in the marketplace, Made In Cookware was born.
“We went off and spent about a year finding the manufacturer,” said Chip. “Really what we wanted to do was nail the premium product, and then we wanted to be authentic with the supply chain.” Once that was figured out, and their stainless steel frying pans were available to consumers, the next phase of running a company could begin. And with that came managing a lot of back-office complexities — a tall order for a small team.
Chip recalled the early days of Made In. As a two-man team, most of their time in a given day was spent trying to filter out unwanted tasks and better prioritize. The co-founders soon realized that payroll and HR were areas they’d much rather have someone else manage.
“It’s something neither of us knew anything about, and it’s a role we don’t anticipate bringing on for a while,” Chip said. “Just outsourcing that made so much sense for us to be able to focus on the business and get the product to market.”
After getting their series A funding, they reached out to the HR team at their investor’s portfolio company for help finding a solution. They broke down the differences between using PEOs and getting health insurance quotes on their own, weighing the pros and cons. At the end of the day, they determined a PEO was the right solution.
In addition, the Made In team also wanted access to a customer service team who could give them quick responses to their questions. Chip had used Justworks at a previous company, so he was familiar with the platform and the service. And with Justworks, he got what he needed for his new company, too.
“We were handling customer service at that time, so we were wearing all of the other hats, and the last thing we wanted to do was wear an HR hat,” said Chip. “[Justworks] fit in super well and the interface was great.”
With Justworks, the Made In team is able to focus on what matters, confident that the back-office functions are being handled. They also love knowing that an expert support team has their back 24/7.
“The customer service in general has been awesome,” said Chip. “Live chat is amazing!” Jake added.
Ultimately, choosing Justworks also saved the team money. Jake said he knew the company would get a better setup through Justworks than they would have independently.
Chip recalled vetting another PEO that seemed slightly cheaper up front. However, once they factored in the insurance rates and the benefit plans, it turned out to be much more expensive. The health insurance rates they got through Justworks made the solution much more affordable for their growing business.
“That’s what sold us, and the customer service and the platform has kept us,” said Chip.