First Round’s one-man IT team got more time in his day while making his colleagues happier using Spoke


First Round Capital


Venture Capital


Ryan Donnon
Head of IT

Ryan Donnon runs all of IT at First Round Capital, including help desk support for employees. Unfortunately, he lives three time zones away from most of his customers. With Spoke, he found a way to give his Slack-loving customers the help they need at all times of day while giving himself more time to get things done on big IT projects.

If you’re a one-person help desk supporting an entire organization on your own, you’re familiar with the challenges facing Ryan Donnon, First Round Capital’s Head of IT (and one-person IT team).

“Since I’m the only IT person, I’m responsible for answering Tier 1 requests, but I’m also responsible for all of our security posture and our long-term planning and our budgetary process.”

As First Round’s only IT person, Ryan has a lot of responsibilities on his plate. That means balancing his commitment to employee support with keeping the company’s IT systems running.

Ryan receives employee requests over several different channels, including email, Slack, and text message. Whatever’s the most convenient for his customers, First Round’s employees.

Before Spoke, there was no central method to track and manage requests, so simple questions had to get addressed right away. Otherwise, they might get lost in the shuffle of a busy day.

That meant Ryan was constantly interrupting his work on bigger projects to answer even the simplest of questions.

Plus, using his inbox as a makeshift ticketing system stressed Ryan out.

“There was no good way to see what was an open issue versus just an email in my inbox.

I used to be very paranoid about getting to Inbox Zero because in my mind Inbox Zero meant no outstanding issues.”

Ryan has the additional challenge of being based on the U.S. east coast while the majority of the employees he serves are on the west coast. He tries to be available and responsive at all times of day, but of course that’s not always possible.

All this left Ryan wanting to find a better way to serve his customers while giving himself more peace of mind and time to get things done. Ideally, a way to help employees get their simplest questions answered without having to interrupt or wait for him.

But the solution had to appeal to employees, too. Otherwise, why would they switch from contacting Ryan at any time, over any channel to get their questions answered?

A Slack-focused, AI help desk solution that employees would love

When Ryan asked First Round’s employees what he could do to make their day-to-day lives better, they resoundingly asked for more Slack integrations to their favorite tools.

So when he discovered Spoke, with its tight Slack integration and friendly AI that could automatically answer employee questions, he became an enthusiastic early adopter.

He was able to get First Round’s employees just as excited.

“I did a 15-minute presentation in an all-hands meeting and showed them what you could do in Slack to get immediate answers. I was giving a live demo, and said, hey, what should I ask Spoke for? And I asked for it and it came up. It worked. That was the epiphany moment. It kind of wowed everyone. After that, I sent everyone invites and got 95% of people signed up immediately.”

Getting employee buy-in was key to Spoke’s successful adoption at First Round. Ryan knew the key was demonstrating how Spoke could make their lives better.

Employees can still ask questions over Slack, email, and text, but don’t have to wait for a response from Ryan because Spoke is always available to help them right away.

“It makes their experience better. And it takes something off my mind when I’m away from the office.”

Peace of mind and the unexpected benefits of a simple ticketing system

Getting Spoke set up was “painless.” Ryan spent about an hour seeding Spoke’s knowledge base with answers to frequently-asked-questions, including links to Google Drive docs and other resources around the organization.

After adopting Spoke, Ryan is getting a lot fewer interruptions from simple IT-related questions. Now he’s able to spend more time focusing on his other big responsibilities, which takes a lot off his mind.

“Spoke has allowed me to dive into those bigger projects and spend time focusing on those without having to be constantly pinged with little requests. It gives me peace of mind that I know people are going to Spoke and asking for help. I don’t have to worry about those things anymore.”

Ryan estimates that answering each simple question used to eat up at least five or ten minutes of his productivity. Now that Spoke is handling the simple requests, Ryan’s gotten an hour or two of productivity back in his week.

Plus, he’s enjoyed unexpected benefits from switching to Spoke to manage First Round’s IT requests. Thanks to Spoke’s streamlined ticketing system, Ryan is no longer managing bigger requests out of his email inbox. In Spoke, he’s keeping requests organized, staying on top of things, and getting issues resolved more quickly.

“I didn’t know I wanted a simple ticketing system until I had one. It has significantly increased my efficiency. I have six tabs pinned in my Chrome browser and Spoke is one of them. In my daily flow, I check my email, I check my Spoke.”

So, is Ryan still stressed about getting to Inbox Zero?

“Spoke has completely changed my workflow. My inbox is my inbox. Now I’m not worried about Inbox Zero. I don’t see those emails as to-dos or outstanding support issues.”

“At this point it would be very upsetting if Spoke were taken away from me.”

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