Take a moment to ask yourself this question right now: Do you know what your company’s goals are? And do you know how you’re contributing to them? The questions may be easier to answer if you’re in sales, but what if you’re in engineering or marketing or customer support? It may be surprising to hear, but many employees don’t usually have the answers. According to a Gallup study in 2015, only 50 percent of employees have a strong grasp of what’s expected of them at work — and there are other studies pointing to other blind spots with employees, such as strategy.
So what’s an employer to do? For Zorian Rotenberg, a former vice president of sales and marketing at InsightSquared, the answer is software-as-a-service. His new startup, Atiim (pronounced “a-team”), is among a wave of new ventures aiming to help companies better manage their goals and track performance through software. More broadly, it’s part of a new movement called HR 2.0. One of the better-funded startups selling performance management software is BetterWorks, a West Coast company that has raised $35.5 million from investors, including prominent venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.
“This space is getting a lot of buzz,” Rotenberg told me of how Atiim got started. “I didn’t know any of that when I started the company because I was solving a problem for myself and the teams I was managing.”
Atiim has raised $1 million from investors, including Cambridge-based venture capital firm Accomplice. Despite larger players like BetterWorks, Rotenberg feels there is still enough room for others in the emerging space. Whereas BetterWorks is going after large, Fortune 500 companies, he said Atiim is going after small- to medium-sized businesses.
The startup’s software works like this: you list out your company’s largest goals (such as “grow the business”), then you break them down into smaller goals (like “book $3 million in new business”), some of which are tied to teams or individual people. From there, employees and teams can update the progress of their individual goals, which automatically impacts the status of those larger goals. With charts breaking down the progress of each goal, the company’s leadership team is able to get an overview of its overarching goals and how employees and teams are contributing, including whether anyone is falling behind.
An important part about Atiim’s software is that it isn’t just tracking sales goals. The software is made to track any goals that are important to a company, including anything that has to do with hiring, customer support and product development.
“It’s an interesting way to make cross-collaboration very visible and transparent,” Rotenberg said.
While Atiim is working on building integrations to help users automate progress updates, Rotenberg said he believes manual entry is a better approach because of the psychological effect it can have. “If it happens passively, they don’t really ruminate on it as much,” he said on why he feels manual entry can be important for software like Atiim.
With approximately 50 customers, including Charles River Analytics and Buildium, Rotenberg said he hopes to focus on growing the company organically, rather than raising more money for investors. “We have one of our biggest deals in the pipeline that we’re closing,” he said, adding that the startup is a couple quarters away from breaking even.
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