founder

Founder Profile: Streamlining Enterprise Collaboration

Summary

Organizational behavior is a priority often left behind in corporation growth. Inward-looking companies turn focus to internal culture in order to track and maintain employee wellness, but simply human habits and behavior can be a hindrance to productivity and expression. Balloonr saw the opportunity to cut through issues bias, fear of rejection, halo effects, etc. that can too often stifle innovation.

 Balloonr’s use cases don’t end there, though. Their platform also looks to cover HR, operations, marketing, and leadership, among others. Amanda Greenberg, her co-founder Noah Bernstein, and the rest of the team have already undergone or are scheduling pilots with massive enterprises like Microsoft and Google.

We were especially excited to get to chat with Amanda about Balloonr, which was just named a Kingscrowd “TOP DEAL”.
Chris Lustrino

Can you tell us a little about your background?

Amanda Greenberg

Before founding Balloonr, I was a public health researcher developing national behavior change programs for federal agencies. I translated research and science into messages, campaigns, and brands. But I started noticing something important, which was my ideas got lost in organizational communication and we were never able to reach a consensus.

 In focus groups that we conducted, I learned that a lot of the work that’s done for companies doesn’t align with how our brains actually function and much ends up being unaccounted for. I became really interested in how to solve this problem.

Chris Lustrino

What are some of the ways you are solving for this breakdown in communication?

Amanda Greenberg

With the help of Noah, we did more research into proper organizational practices that were simple and approachable for users. From start to finish, you begin by collecting anonymous feedback on an idea or problem and narrow it down to a prioritized list that cuts through bias, groupthink, halo effects, etc.

 With anonymity, identity is removed preventing its influence on the idea review. What you end up with is a focused set of executable ideas that have been determined to be the best by the whole, rather than a few influential figures or voices.

Chris Lustrino

What current offerings exist in place of Balloonr and what are their shortcomings?

Amanda Greenberg

A lot of this is status quo stuff. They’ll create meetings and try to have a third party ensuring no one is overly bias or anchoring the conversation. If the initial feedback is negative, for example, it can lead to further negative feedback from the rest of the group.

 There’s also the collaboration suite of tools, but they don’t take into context how humans actually make decisions. Other options are post-it notes green dot exercises, which many of our customers have used in the past.

 Unfortunately, none of these solve for the issue that Balloonr is solving for by providing an easy-to-use sourcing tool for ideas that is anonymous and can enable people to be open and honest in the decision making process.

Chris Lustrino

Who is the target customer of Balloonr?

Amanda Greenberg

We target large enterprise industry leaders who want to grow their companies and stay innovative. We also look for companies that are product or project-focused and need productivity to drive their efforts.

 It also can be for a company with system breakdowns that needs to restructure how they’re responding to internal feedback. There’s many different examples, but the pain point in most is usually management looking to improve diversity and inclusion or their people operations.

Chris Lustrino

One of the challenges I imagine you face with a product like this that has never existed is educating the market to understand the value of the product. Has this been your experience?

Amanda Greenberg

Often times, because its new, there’s many questions. However, to mitigate that we focus on the use cases. We approach organizations with a list of use cases to help them understand how it can be beneficial for their organization.

 When we bring on a new customer we will utilize an onboarding webinar and a pilot, which we can do multiple times depending on the company. Most importantly, we make sure they’re comfortable with the product and then finalize the initial use case. We let the customer lead according to how they need it.

 To date, we’ve seen our product used in so many different ways because it’s applicable for any industry or organizational department. Once companies start using Balloonr, it’s impossible for them to revert back to the old way. One of the great things about the product and the company is that everyone has experienced at least one element of the problem.

Chris Lustrino

As you educate the market, what is the focused distribution strategy?

Amanda Greenberg

The majority of our pipeline has been inbound through media, pitch events, and customer referrals. That has really driven most of our sales and that’s gotten us to the top of the market.

As we start outbound, though, we’ll cover all use cases and buyers. We are focused on targeting specific organizational divisions and going use case by use case. More customers are the strongest point of reference for us.

Chris Lustrino

Are you utilizing free trials to drive sign ups?

Amanda Greenberg

We’re doing paid pilots for larger enterprises, which is a 2 to 3 months pilot which will then convert into an annual program. Smaller companies with a specific understanding and need of a use case will typically opt for an annual contract upfront.

Chris Lustrino

To date, have you developed a sense of customer acquisition cost?

Amanda Greenberg

The majority of our 15 to 20 customers have been inbound leads, so the cost has been very low. In addition, we’ve averaged a 400% increase in seat count over 7 months, which shows that our value proposition is coming across to our customers.

Chris Lustrino

One of the other challenges I can see with a product like this is teams not having a budget in place for a product like Balloonr. Have you seen this?

Amanda Greenberg

It depends on the use case. Product teams will typically have a budget, whereas C-level teams have more insight on all the budgets. We’ll often see that overall budget spread out across multiple use cases in different divisions.

Chris Lustrino

How do you plan to scale the business now that you have proven product-market fit?

Amanda Greenberg

We’re a very lean team right now of 4 full time employees and 1 part time, so we’re eager to scale the team. With the release of V2, we’ll be able to kickoff these additional features as well.

 We’re planning to build out the development and customer success team. We’ll also bring on a data scientist to build an AI overlay on top of our system. I anticipate we’ll potentially raise additional capital outside of Republic too.

Chris Lustrino

Why did you decide to raise capital from the Republic investor community?

Amanda Greenberg

I’m a Forbes contributor and met the Republic team through that. I talked to them and was really interested in them and their business because it was unique to the investment landscape in their focus on diversity and inclusion. Their idea was that great companies could come from anywhere and shared a vision of meritocracy.

 Then the opportunity to be on the Meet The Drapers came up. A lot of our customers wanted to be able to invest, so I wanted to open up the option for evangelists and champions to fuel our growth.

Balloonr is a “TOP DEAL” worthy of consideration in your investment portfolio. Many thanks to Amanda for the interview. You can find why we named it a Kingscrowd “Top Deal”

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About: Chris Lustrino

A Boston College Eagle for life, on a mission to democratize startup investing for all people at KingsCrowd, with a passion for Fintech, investing, social impact, doing well and doing good, and an avid runner, cyclist and writer.

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