During the last year of pandemic and economic shock, many startups have put out something new. For some, the shifts in society brought about entirely new problems to solve, and business models. For other companies, it was a moment to push ahead with plans that were previously seen as something they’d tackle down the road.
For knctrr founder Art Binder and his team building systems for marketing business around recommendations, it was the latter. They recently debuted WeBirdie, which is designed for companies to empower employees to help drive recommendations.
The team initially launched knctrr in 2019 with a model that sought to help freelancers connect to gigs. Binder said the team had always envisioned an enterprise version, and decided to completely rebrand and move ahead with that version over the last year. Despite a decent clip of user activity, Binder said the company faced down a reality that it would have to be continuously raising money in order to build up the product that could scale.
knctrr’s model was reliant on three parties: a person who performs a service, a person who recommends them and a customer. With WeBirdie, the model is a direct interaction between a business and its employee, so the company can offer its software directly to the business.
Yet it retains Binder’s original belief: Warm leads are the ultimate currency of business, and tech tools can help to expand those.
“People talk about their work outside of work all the time,” Binder said. “It’s what we do as humans. It’s a huge part of our lives.”
With WeBirdie, the idea is that an employee can follow that up with a link to create a WeBirdie profile. The act of setting up a profile shows “intent,” Binder said, and makes them a “warm, qualified lead.”
“They have a human connection to your company, which is huge,” he said. “That builds this element of trustworthiness and comfort. That is powerful. Warm recommendations are extremely effective, so when you get to harness that for your business, I think that’s invaluable.”
The tools offered by WeBirdie allow the company to track when an employee posts a recommendation about the company on a platform like email, text and social media. Then it offers a way to gamify and offer incentives for employees to do so by offering a point system for the number of recommendations, and how many turned into real prospects.
“You as business owner can assign rewards to those points,” Binder said.
WeBirdie offers the service initially for free, then offers a paid subscription service for reporting and analytics.
The service is now in beta, and looking to keep testing.
At the end of our conversation, we asked Binder a bit about what he’s learned about building companies as a cofounder. After all, the pivot is something many startups go through. There wouldn’t be a Twitter, YouTube or Instagram (the list goes on) without cofounders being willing to change the plan. But the change is also a moment to reflect on the startup process.
In paraphrased form, here are a few quick tips Binder learned along the way:
- Being a cofounder isn’t glamorous. Running a startup means wearing many hats at once, and changing a frame of mind quickly. Be ready to do the tasks no one else wants to do.
- Be responsive to users. A lot of businesses bringing a product to market believe they know how end users will receive it. Don’t assume. Test. Gather data. And adjust accordingly.
- Be authentic. “You can’t be everything to everyone. But you can be something to a lot of people. Focus on being that something to a lot of people, and I think you’ll have a lot more success,” Binder said.
- Pick the right team. Surround yourself with people who want it as much as a cofounder does. This isn’t something to rush.
- Keep learning. Mistakes and failures happen along the way. Embrace the chance to learn and grow.