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TeamHively.com: A Web Based Application that Helps Businesses Gather and Measure Real-Time Customer Feedback and Rewards Employees Accordingly

http://www.teamhively.com/

Hively provides a web based software application that helps business gather and measure feedback from their customers in real time.

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We had a great interview with Mr. ‘Jason Lander‘; CEO of the US (Portland)-based start-up “Hively“.

“Hively” is a web based application that helps businesses gather and measure real-time customer feedback and rewards employees accordingly.

Below, is the full interview that we have conducted with Mr. ‘Lander’ regarding his start-up company “Hively”;

1. What is it exactly that you do and what “Hively” is all about?

We provide a web based software application that helps business gather and measure feedback from their customers in real time.

Instead of filling out time consuming surveys, your customers can simply click on a happy, satisfied or unhappy face every time they get an email from someone at your company.

Every time someone in your company gets feedback they earn points and get ranked on a leaderboard so you can see who is performing the best.

You can also reward your top performing employees directly through Hively by sending them Kudos and rewards with digital gift cards.

2. When has “Hively” been founded? And what stage is “Hively” currently at?

We founded Hively in 2011. We launched a beta version in June of that year and our production v1.0 in November.

We are bootstrapping our business and experiencing slow, steady growth – just like we wanted.

We have continued to optimize our product and build on new, relevant and useful features. Our customers love our product.


3. What is “Hively”’s business model and how does it work?

Customers can choose to use Hively on a Free or Premium plan. The Free plan supports small teams of up to 3 people with a limited feature set.

It’s a great way to try out Hively. Our Premium plan delivers Hively’s complete feature set and supports unlimited users.

This Premium plan costs $15/mo + $2/user. We also offer an annual plan at a 10% discount.

4. How did your team meet? And who in your team does what?

My business partner and I met in 2002. At that time we created a startup called ShiftWise.

ShiftWise delivered web based staffing software to the healthcare staffing industry.

We exited ShiftWise in 2010 and wanted to do something new and completely different.

My business Partner is Ross Barbieri. He is our CTO. We make a good team. We often say he is the ‘how’ and I am the ‘why.’

He does all the back end development, architecture and IT stuff. I provide design, front end development, sales and marketing.

5. What, exactly, makes you different from existing options, what will make your product and/or service stand out in the marketplace? In other words what’s unique about you and what’s new about what you make?

Hively is currently the only web based application of it’s kind.

It’s the simplest way to gather and measure real time customer feedback that enables you to immediately reward your employees for providing exceptional customer service.

You can set up your entire team in just a few minutes and start gathering customer feedback the next time you send an email. It’s that simple.

Now, every time you get feedback you’re instantly notified so you know exactly what’s working or what you need to improve.

6. What is your growth like? And what milestones has “Hively” achieved so far?

We earn new customers daily and now have customers in numerous industries across the U.S., as well as countries like Germany, the U.K. Ireland and more.

We have successfully gone from a beta version to a very robust and full feature product in less than 1 years time.

And we’ve done it all on our own, without outside investment capital.

7. Who are your competitors? And what is “Hively”’s competitive advantage over them?

There are companies delivering similar concepts. However, none are doing exactly what Hively is doing.

For the most part, we consider our competition to be more indirect than direct. For example – companies providing help desk support communities or customer feedback solutions via surveys.

Our competitive advantage is delivering real time, closed loop feedback via a non-survey method.

Surveys are complicated and time consuming and people hate filling them out.

However, business still need to measure customer satisfaction. We’re their solution.

8. What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?

Bringing in customers and revenue on our own, without outside capital.

It’s difficult to build traction when you’re going it alone but getting there feels very rewarding.

It’s also challenging in the beginning to know if you’re building the right product/features.

It’s critical to get customer feedback in this area and to know which feedback to listen to.

9. What are the key things about your field that outsiders don’t understand?

Building software is hard. Really hard. It only looks easy. That’s the trick. We constantly have people presenting ideas to us they think are ‘simple’ but they only look simple because they don’t know they’ve solved less than 1% of the problem.

There are a lot of ‘unsexy’ things that go into delivering a production ready application.

If you don’t understand those things the challenge you face is much larger than you know.

10. Why are you going to succeed?

We have a great product and a great team. We love to solve problems and deliver solutions that people really value.

We have no intention of quitting and more importantly, we’re patient. We’re in it to win it but we see it as a marathon, not a sprint.

As soon as we have the attention we need then we’ll start driving the attention. It’s going to be fun.

11. If “Hively” succeeds, what additional areas might you be able to expand into?

Right now Hively measures feedback on people. However, there are lots of other ways to collect feedback and things to collect feedback on.

We’d also like to expand our presence internationally.

It would be great to see how people in more countries value our product and make use of customer feedback.

12. Why did you choose this idea and concept to build “Hively” based on?

For a decade we worked in an industry that emailed customers daily and managers had no way of telling who on their team was making their customers happy.

Their best attempt to measure this was to periodically send out lengthy surveys asking for feedback.

However, the response rates were low, the data was hard to aggregate and it rarely made it’s way to the people providing customer service.

We liked the concept of gathering customer feedback online but wanted to simplify the process.

13. What have you learned so far from launching your idea?

Where should I start? From a technical perspective we continue to expand our knowledge of browsers, email clients and modern technologies like CSS, HTML 5 and JQuery.

From a customer perspective, it’s been incredibly interesting to learn how other people view and want to use your product.

Often times, it’s very different than your vision for it and that can be a good thing.

14. Six months from now, what’s going to be your biggest problem?

Scaling. We’re at a point where we need to put more attention into the ‘unsexy’ part of software development I referred to.

As we gain more customers and larger customers we have to continually optimize the application so everything stays snappy and functional.

It’s an ongoing effort and can be daunting. But we have lots of experience here so we’re ready for the challenge.

15. What’s the benefit for the customer/user?

Hively is the simplest way to gather and measure customer feedback, and immediately reward your employees for delivering exceptional customer service.

It’s fun, engaging and useful. It’s easy to set up and ridiculously affordable.

It will help any business motivate their team members and will dramatically improve their customer happiness. All of this leads to business growth.

16. How did customers/users find out about you?

Basic marketing efforts. We blog, optimize our online presence, make effective use of social media outlets, send email marketing campaigns, run PPC ads and put out some PR around relevant news items. 

One of the other great things about Hively is the viral component of it. It sits in the email signature of companies sending outgoing emails to other companies. Therefore, there’s the potential that 100’s, if not 1000’s of new companies see our product every day.

We also network and partner with other companies that help promote us like Tango Card. We have a few more partnerships to announce over the next several months as well.

17. Who are your current customers/users? Who are your target customers/users?

We earn new customers daily and now have customers in numerous industries across the U.S., as well as countries like Germany, the U.K. Ireland and more.

We have customers in industries like tech, IT, employment, staffing, real estate, financial, service, support, etc.

We also have customers of all sizes – small teams of 3 – 5 people and large teams with 100s of team members.

If there’s a business looking for a simple, but effective way to measure customer satisfaction we have the solution.

18. Where do new customers/users come from and what makes new customers/users try you?

They hear about us from partnerships and networking, and primarily our online marketing efforts.

Our customers find us online and can sign up in a matter of minutes. We make it easy to give Hively a try.

We ask for little information and as soon as you login you can try the product out.

You can use our free plan without a credit card to give Hively a run or use it free forever if you like.

19. What do your customers/users say about your product and/or service?

Our customers love it. You can read more for yourself here: http://teamhively.com/from-our-customers.

Here you’ll see our customers talking about everything from increase customer happiness, to happier employees, to a time saver and process improvement.

Hively provides tremendous value to our customers and they aren’t afraid to talk about it. We love that and feel incredibly thankful for all of them.

20. How are you going to scale?

To us, scaling means everything from technical changes and decisions, to internal support and message control and promotion.

Fortunately, having done this all before, we have a lot of experience here.

We see scaling as a good problem to have.

We aren’t naive enough to think we won’t have any issues but we’re confident enough to know none of them will be insurmountable.

21. What’s the biggest missing feature? The one thing customers/users keep asking for?

The list is long! However, not because I’d suggest Hively is missing anything – it’s just how software is.

If you have a good product that people are using then it’s never really ‘done.’ It’s always in a state of iteration and enhancement.

There are several great features we just added, such as the ability for team members to give each other internal feedback with Kudos!

We have lots of new features planned for release over the next couple of years. We’ll reveal them all in due time.

22. Are you going to internationalize? And if yes how are you planning to expand your start-up’s operations accordingly?

We earn new customers daily and now have customers in numerous industries across the U.S., as well as countries like Germany, the U.K. Ireland and more.

We still have a lot to do in terms of language translation and cultural UX/UI differences/preferences.

However, we love being pushed in this direction so we’ll keep going.

We don’t have to change up much of how we deliver the product or our operations.

23. How big do you think you can get? Why? And how you are planning to achieve your goals?

We make it a habit to never look too far into the future. It’s all a guess so it can be a time waste.

We look at other companies that have been successful with similar, indirectly competitive products and some of them are very large.

We know we aren’t making the next Facebook but we also aren’t setting out to be that.

We already feel successful with what we have so every bit of growth from here on out is just icing on the cake.

24. Are you looking to hire a new workforce? And if yes, what job vacancies do you currently offer and where can potential applicants contact you at?

We are always looking to hire creative, talented people focused on making customer happy.

We’re typically hiring for front end and back end developers, as well as marketing people.

We’re located in Portland, Oregon and prefer our team to be all located here as well.

You can learn more about our current team here: http://teamhively.com/about and we can be contacted on our website here: http://teamhively.com/contact

25. Are you looking for partnership opportunities or funding from Venture Capitals (VC) or other funding sources? Or your business is self-sustainable? And if the first option applies where can potential partners / investors contact you at?

We are very interested in partnerships of all kind. Our partnerships to date have been invaluable in moving us forward.

That said, at this time we are not seeking outside capital investments.

We might consider such when we get a bit further down the road but for now, we’re just fine with where we’re at.

We can be contacted on our website here: http://teamhively.com/contact

26. What advice do you have for fresh entrepreneurs?

Don’t be too quick to raise outside capital. Not every business needs to raise outside money and those that should don’t need to do it right from the beginning.

Be patient. Not every business is an overnight success.

Sometimes, it takes a long time and a lot of hard work but the rewards are just the same. The race is long.

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