Insights into Value Creation and Achieving Optimum Exits
This Edition's Topic
A Brief Interview with Rob Griebel, President and Co-Founder of BlueZone Systems
BlueZone Systems is the fitbit for enterprise sales teams and individuals looking to bring personalized motivation to daily activities. Their cloud-based system provides a dynamic solution for increasing sales by converting sales goals into engaging, daily action plans that inspire performance. They are a Seattle area startup that was just about ready to hit the “GO” button when the pandemic hit.
Rob Griebel, who Co-Founded BlueZone with Danielle Griebel, has had a long career leading enterprise sales teams and three of the companies he worked for achieved successful exits: Winshuttle, Noetix, and Aris. BlueZone combines many of the techniques that Rob leveraged to reach exceptional sales results with his company’s mission to inspire teams to extraordinary productivity and transformation.
What was happening at BlueZone prior to the pandemic?
Ready to Launch!
BlueZone was formed in 2019 and was nearing their official launch just prior to the pandemic. The engineering team, under the direction of Eric Hirst, had completed the initial version of a commercially viable product that met their standards for value and quality and had wrapped up a few rounds of early adopter testing.
The next steps planned were an official marketing launch, building their sales pipeline, and onboarding their first accounts. They were just about ready to close the first official client when everything came to a halt.
What tactics are you employing now?
Listen, Help, Move Forward
BlueZone Systems has a small team so there was no shortage of things to keep them busy. They started by reaching out to all the companies in the sales pipeline to see how the crisis was impacting each of them. Two themes emerged. First, each business was going through their own pipeline evaluation, predicting likely revenue, and determining the impact on their organization. There was a great deal of uncertainty and, as a result, spending essentially stopped. Second, with the shift to remote work, there was a need to develop new methods to motivate teams that are used to drawing energy from their in-office colleagues.
This second point was quite interesting as the BlueZone solution can help solve this problem. Rob noted that he has actually been relying more heavily on his product, the focus the daily activity plan provides, and the motivation of the daily BlueZone score. He has expanded his own plan to go beyond just selling activities but to other factors important to productivity including health and wellness.
Rob and Danielle did their own business assessment and evaluated all the areas they could reduce costs. In the meantime, they are making BlueZone available to inside sales teams that had to transition to working from home, at no charge, through the end of June.
Recently they have seen enough positive momentum in the market that they are ready to turn the launch switch back to on. The plan is being finalized for marketing announcements and campaigns to begin in the near future.
Do you have any lessons learned that you would like to pass along?
Experiment, Validate, Stay Strong
One of the suggestions in The Lean Startup by Eric Reis is to take time to experiment. Rob took this advice and found that as he talked to some of his friends and business associates over the past several weeks, that there are likely many problems and challenges that BlueZone can address beyond the initial focus on sales teams. He is currently talking with local sports teams as to how they can use the system to motivate their athletes to train while in isolation (and after). He also has a plan for improving his own golf game that he will start once he can get back on the course!
Another point Rob made was that this was a good time to validate assumptions that he had made about the company’s addressable market and value proposition. He knew that working from home was getting more and more traction and this is one of the reasons his product is so useful. However, he did not assume that the shift would happen so quickly.
Rob’s last comment was that starting a company is not for the faint at heart. It took a long time for him to decide to go down this path and although he expected challenges, a global pandemic was not on the radar. He and his colleagues are digging in and making the best of the circumstances.