Article By: Martin Studzinski | Article Source: Tech-Vibes.com
Startup Calgary is hosting Launch Party 2011 on December 1, 2011, giving nine Calgary companies the opportunity to showcase their products to VCs, angel investors, and A100 members. Three companies will be selected for a two-minute pitch competition on the main stage, pitching their products to 250 members of the Calgary tech community. See the full list of startups here.
Kudos® Inc is a customizable corporate social network and peer-to-peer recognition platform designed to improve communication and employee engagement. Kudos is a cloud SaaS service that is simple, effective, and affordable.
The key to a successful startup is to offer a solution to a well-defined problem. What problem does Kudos address?
Many corporate performance studies show a direct and positive correlation between employee engagement and financial performance. Yet in recent studies, the majority of the workforce is disengaged. Lost productivity in the US alone is estimated at $370 billion, annually.
The marketplace is crowded with complex, expensive systems focused on rewards, performance management, and knowledge management. Kudos fills the human need to feel connected and appreciated through social communication and peer-to-peer recognition. Kudos is a platform that builds and supports culture where other products support business processes. Kudos lives at the centre of these systems and is affordable for companies of all sizes.
How did you conceive Kudos?
Kudos 1.0 was originally developed out of a digital marketing agency in 2007 and as an internal employee engagement and communication platform. Tom Short was leading the agency at the time and was instrumental in the development of Kudos. In 2008, the platform was transformed into a rudimentary beta product, Kudos 2.0, to test the broader commercial viability. Over the next two years our beta clients continued to use Kudos robustly, sending over 12 million Kudos to one another.
In 2010, Tom Short left the agency with Kudos 2.0 and started Kudos Inc. Tom always believed in the potential of Kudos, and Kudos had proven to have an unusual stickiness and appeal. In early 2011, Muni Boga joined Kudos as a partner and cofounder to develop Kudos 3.0, which was launched at The Motivation Show 2011 on October 4th. The 3.0 system has been greatly expanded, turning Kudos into a customizable corporate social network with a progressively more robust and meaningful recognition engine. Within the first month Kudos 3.0 had over 150 new accounts sign up from four different continents.
What is your biggest stumbling block as a startup? What steps have you taken to overcome this challenge?
We initially designed Kudos for small and medium enterprise, however after large enterprise took interest in using Kudos we realized that it is an extremely scalable and sought after solution. Because our potential customer base has expanded so rapidly, we require additional architecture to support this. Of course this means additional development and therefore funding is required, all under a tight deadline. This scenario screams of a potentially rushed band-aid solution that in turn can cause many other issues. While we respect the need to work in an agile environment, we also respect the need for due diligence. Therefore, we did not rush to build this new functionality. In fact, we spent extra time understanding our new market, the issues and how technology is trending. In the end, we have come to both a long and short term solution, that combined, are stronger than what we originally perceived was optimal. We have managed to cut our anticipated costs for this new component and determined a long and short term plan that will provide a secure and stable environment for our newest market – large enterprise.
How has Kudos arranged its financing? Are you actively seeking investors?
We have an active investor group that believes in the potential of Kudos and we are in the process of adding advisors that can help us enhance the product and accelerate our growth. Revenues are trending up and we are currently in the process of setting up resellers in the US, UK, Australia, Argentina, Chile, Columbia, and Brazil. We are focusing our energy towards revenue generation and personal / private financing at this stage. That being said, we are also continually talking to potential investors of all types.
What’s the most exciting thing happening in the tech ecosystem in Calgary right now?
Since the inception of Kudos 3.0 we have seen much happen globally and locally with respect to tech ecosystems. We have been conversing with companies and individuals in North America and beyond. We definitely see that there is a faster paced environment and more connections to be had in the larger urban centres, however Calgary has a tight and connected community in its own right. As well, Calgary is gaining a greater report for its entrepreneurial edge. This grassroots zest for entrepreneurialism and our geography allows us to stay focused and connected, yet distant from the global noise that often causes distractions.