As an old popular American movie character once quipped, “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never really know what you’re gonna get.” It may sound trivial and utterly simple, but true—at least in the case of two high school buddies who wanted to put their entrepreneurial skills to the test and eventually became successful in their chosen field.
As Bryce Maddock, founder and CEO of business process outsourcing (BPO) company TaskUs recounts, he and his friend Jaspar Weir decided to go into business early in life, with varying degrees of success, until they finally found the business that they really liked.
Maddock says he was only 19 years old when he and his friend Weir opened Access— the first all-age nightclub in Los Angeles, California. The concept, he says, was radical enough that they successfully attracted from 800 to 1,000 kids from around the area every night, for three years in a row.
After that, the pair started toying with the idea of having virtual assistants. “We were really fascinated by the idea of virtual assistants. As young professionals, we thought it would be nice if we had our own assistants, so we started hiring virtual assistants in 16 different countries, including Kenya, Ghana, Pakistan, India, Malaysia, and the Philippines.” Eventually, he says, they settled on the Philippines as “the best place in the world to get work done on a dollar-per-dollar basis.”
It was a great business model, he says, but he candidly admits that they didn’t get that much customers. “By that time we were 25 and still living with our parents and driving beat-up cars.” At that time, they had five employees in the Philippines in a small office in Bacoor, Cavite, and they decided to refocus their business, helping start-up companies in the US get quality customer service. In time, they became the go-to firm for companies in the US for back office operations and customer service outsourcing.
TaskUs was officially founded in 2008, providing outsourced omni-channel customer care and back office support to a number of start-up companies. The team of two founders started working out of their garage in Sta. Monica, California and officially launched their Philippine operations in 2009. Today, from a company of five employees and two founders, TaskUs has grown to more than 1,200 people worldwide, including their global headquarters in Sta. Monica, and two locations in the Philippines. Their clients now include more than 70 of the world’s most innovative and disruptive companies, including companies like Uber, Tinder and Autodesk.
The company was also recently named “The Next Big StartUp” by the New York Stock Exchange, with Maddock being given the honor of ringing the closing bell at the NYSE in 2012. The next two years also saw the company named as the “fastest growing outsourcing company in America” by Inc. Magazine, which comes out with an annual Inc. 500 List.
Maddock says his company stands by one of their core philosophies, which is “bringing work to people.” This is the reason, he says, why they have a big office building in Bacoor so that their employees who are living there will not have to commute long hours just to get to their workplace. The same is true with their other office in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig.
Corporate dynamics notwithstanding, Maddock says their goal is to grow to 10,000 employees in the next three years. He is also quite optimistic that the Philippines’ BPO industry will continue to post healthy growth for many years to come. But he did mention several challenges the industry must deal with along the way. According to him, education is a major challenge, especially as the BPO evolves into more complicated forms such as new knowledge processes. He also thinks there should be more expansion in the provincial areas so better infrastructure is needed, and lastly, better enforcement of the rule of law.
On a personal level, Maddock says he is quite happy to have grown along with the company. At age 28, his accomplishments include graduating summa cum laude from New York University, working as an investment banking analyst on Wall Street, and having boot strapped TaskUs to profitability. He has also been called one of the “Top Twenty Entrepreneurs in their Twenties” by the Los Angeles Business Journal. He is also the chair of the TaskUs Foundation, which raises money to send children to good schools in the Philippines. Being chair of this foundation strikes a personal chord with him, he says, as he never did very well in school himself too. But he was able to overcome his dyslexia and went on to become one of the top graduates in a prestigious university.
When not performing his tasks as a CEO, Maddock says he continually trains for marathons. He is a competitive triathlete and also helps other charities raise funds through marathons for a cause. He also likes people-watching and giving speeches that hopefully inspire others. But at the end of the day, he says he has this single-minded focus on growing TaskUs. “I’m at a point in my life as a 28-year old entrepreneur, that I want to give the business everything that I have. I’m sure when I’m in my 30s with a family, I want to have a work-life balance, but until then, I’m willing to give this everything that I have.” Smart choice indeed, for a successful entrepreneur with the gift of youth, and using it to help achieve his dream.