Keeping employees connected and informed is essential to a healthy and productive workforce. But today, with so many people working remotely, generating a feeling of community in the workplace is an increasing challenge.
In this edition of UpTech Report, Bill Boebel discusses his search for a quality solution, which eventually led him to create his own. The results are Pingboard, a social networking and communications system that’s now used by over 350,000 employees across the world.
More information: https://pingboard.com/
Bill Boebel is CEO and founder of Pingboard, which provides employee engagement software to thousands of companies. Prior to Pingboard, Bill was CTO & co-founder of Webmail, the largest B2B email provider before Gmail hit the scene.
After Webmail was acquired by Rackspace, Bill helped found Capital Factory, which helps entrepreneurs in Austin build great companies. Pingboard was born out of a need faced by Capital Factory, Rackspace and Webmail.
DISCLAIMER: Below is an AI generated transcript. There could be a few typos but it should be at least 90% accurate. Watch video or listen to the podcast for the full experience!
Bill Boebel 0:00
Anyone, whether you’re super technical or you’re new to the company or been there a decade, you can just open the app and find what you’re looking for. It’s super intuitive, like any other tools you use in your personal life.
Alexander Ferguson 0:17
Bill, to begin, can you describe Pingboard? In five seconds? Briefly, what is it? How do you guys help people?
Bill Boebel 0:22
It’s an application that companies use for their employees to be more connected to each other, which is relevant more than ever, when everyone’s destroyed in
Alexander Ferguson 0:30
no kidding being connected? So tell me, how did you discover this problem? And how have you built this solution to solve it?
Bill Boebel 0:39
It originated out of our own need, I built a couple companies scale them up. And while we were scaling a co working space called Capital Factory, here in Austin, we needed a way to organize a lot of information about our members, but then we opened it up for them to know more about each other. And, you know, if you’re, if you’re an Android developer, and you need to have hit up somebody that also is an Android developer to get help with a bug, we had that as part of the platform. And we realized, as we built it, man, this would have been awesome in our last company, have a lot of friends, scaling companies where they need the same sort of thing. So that’s kind of how it all began.
Alexander Ferguson 1:19
The platform itself, can you give a good use case, maybe highlight a What are your clients that are using it to share good story?
Bill Boebel 1:26
Yeah, so the we get our foot in the door with 1000s of companies through having just a really easy to use org chart tool. So head of HR CEO or department head, they can use our tool for free to build out an org chart of your organization. So they can use it themselves export a PDF, but we encourage them to share it. So you send a link to somebody. And then that’s kind of a teaser to get in the door. And what we really believe is your chart is just one really simple, old school dimension of your company. But work gets done in so many cross functional ways. Now, when you communicate out how your company is structured, and how you do work, you need something much more dynamic. So kind of we use the order in which are to get in the door. And then we try to get the company to use the app for their employees. So they can open up on their phone search by the common stuff like department and reporting structure, but also things like skills, what projects people are on where they were, when they work, really any any dimension that is relevant to a company and it’s customizable. So companies find all sorts of interesting ways to organize their their people data,
Alexander Ferguson 2:39
who is the ideal person that ends up buying and managing this platform is it is that the HR manager or
Bill Boebel 2:45
it’s one of two roles, it’s either HR manager or a operational leader. So sometimes CEO, sometimes a kind of C level, but a certain department. But it’s usually that someone’s got the need, either in HR or in operations.
Alexander Ferguson 2:59
And how is using your platform different from managing it on spreadsheets or even other competitors out there?
Bill Boebel 3:07
Yeah, the core is that we’ve taken the person in the beginning that we were going to design it like a consumer application where anyone, whether you’re super technical, or you’re new to the company, ever been there a decade, you can just open the app and find what you’re looking for. It’s super intuitive, like any other tools you use in your personal life. And then we integrate with other tools. We’re not trying to be the back office system of record, but we want to be the employees source of truth, or they’re gonna go. So we integrate with those back office tools, and that that’s one of the differentiators here. This is only as useful as, as far as you trust the information. As soon as you see things that are out of date, it’s, you’re probably gonna stop using it. So that’s a that’s a big part of our differentiator.
Alexander Ferguson 3:52
What’s some of the popular integrations that you guys have it are people using?
Bill Boebel 3:56
So the for data saying it’s things like ADP for HR data, and payroll data, bamboo HR, namely a bunch of the common ones used in the mid market. We also think with identity management systems like octave, or one login, we have an API or some customers, typically the larger customers will push data in themselves, because you know, big companies often are spread out across different countries and have different systems. And then we have also, on the user facing side, we have Slack integration. So you can look up info about your teammates in Slack, you can we have some nice kind of injury, other ways of connecting people like giving people peer recognition, you can do that through slack. And it shows up on their profile instead of pingboard will push like birthdays and anniversaries into Slack. And so that’s that’s more of the kind of the fun user facing side and we’re working on Microsoft Teams integration as well. We don’t have that one yet.
Alexander Ferguson 4:54
What is the right size you found people actually meeting Your type of platform?
Bill Boebel 5:01
Yeah, that’s a good question. So we’ve got our customers ranged from in the teens of employees up to three or 4000 employees. But we found the sweet spot is, once you’re around 100 employees, that’s when you start your organization’s changing fast enough, and you’ve got enough people where everybody doesn’t know what everyone does. And your new person needs to jump right in and be able to know who to contact for what. And then on the high end, once you get to around 2000, we’re starting to find some functionality that bigger companies need that we haven’t built yet, like different access controls for different departments. And some, some bigger companies operate like large, multiple companies that are just rolled under one umbrella. So there’s some things that once you get past that size that we’ll have to add every time. So I’d say 100 to 2000 is really the the ideal sweet spot.
Alexander Ferguson 5:52
So just as a getting enough focus and change where you don’t know everybody, and there’s no way you could so having a place to see that but not too large, where it gets too complicated, nice sweet spot in between there. Yeah, we call the mid market. Okay, for those HR manager, operational leaders, is there any good tips that they that you would recommend that they know about or should look at it, whether it’s related to your platform or not that just a power tip you give?
Bill Boebel 6:20
Um, yeah, one thing that we see a lot, especially if the buyer of pingboard is an HR leader, they have other tools that store employee information. And a lot of times, they’re not aware of how limiting those tools are for their employees. So employees will usually use the HR tools just to do their payroll and benefit stuff, you know, look at their pay stubs and do open enrollment and very little out there don’t use it as a resource. So HR, people use it as a resource. So where we come in is we sync the data from those tools and present it in a way that’s really easy for the employee. So and that’s usually something that HR leaders are not thinking about at the time there because they’re so used to using their kind of back office tools. That’s the only the other side of it, we find part of what keeps pinging more top of mind is not the utility functionality of being able to find information about people. But we’ve built a lot of things around that to surface information. So we have a on the mobile app, you can play a five star game and there’s a leaderboard to learn names and faces. And it gives you tips, if you get things wrong, we have the peer recognition I mentioned where you can give people applause. And we have an out of office add on that we’ve built in a way that it’s much more about you telling your teammate, hey, I’m gonna be working, working remote even back when that back when everybody wasn’t doing that, or, you know, going to be on vacation, here’s where I’m going. It’s a lot more social. And that pushes to slack as well. So we find that to be top of mind, for the employee, you need to have some of these more fun kind of engagement type features around the core utility.
Alexander Ferguson 8:05
Business model wise, it’s a monthly yearly contract based on number of users.
Bill Boebel 8:10
Correct? Yeah, I mean, different tiers based on functionality, but it’s scales based on how much of the product you’re using and how big of an organization you
Alexander Ferguson 8:18
are. Looking forward from here. Where do you see your company in the near term next year? What are you excited about? What’s coming up? And then long term? Where do you see in 510 years.
Bill Boebel 8:30
So that’s it, there’s two directions I see us focusing on, there’s a lot more we want to do around the kind of surfacing information to people at the right time. And, you know, if we find two people have similar things in common do proactively pushing that info to them. Related, there’s a lot more we could do around New Hire onboarding, we know a lot of our customers use pinboards introduce the new employee, kind of like almost like an orientation to the company. So there’s more that we’re we have on our roadmap related to that to make that really a good experience. And then there’s a few other areas of HR that we have an eye on that we think we can take an employee centric view and extend our functionality. So most of HR is very back office and boring and the stuff that the employees interact with, we believe there’s ways to make it much more enjoyable and not not a chore. So so there’s some other kind of more typical parts of HR that we plan to get into over the next year or two.
Alexander Ferguson 9:37
Where’s uh, where should people go to learn more and what’s a good first step for them to take?
Bill Boebel 9:42
So, Pingboard.com you can sign up online that we have lots of great content and examples, case studies. But you know, sign up for 30 seconds and start playing around with the account. That’s the easiest way and the initial experiences aimed at trying to get you to build your order. charts is really easy and focused on that. So that’s that’s the best place to start and then invite a few team members in and start playing with it use the mobile app and you can kind of get a sense for what it can do for your company. But
Alexander Ferguson 10:11
that concludes the audio version of this episode. To see the original and more, visit our UpTech Report YouTube channel. If you know a tech company, we should interview you can nominate them at UpTech report.com. Or if you just prefer to listen, make sure you’re subscribed to this series on Apple podcasts, Spotify or your favorite podcasting app.