Grokky – Started by HubSpot Alumni is Making Management Better

Wednesday Jul 2, 2014 by Josh Boyle - Director of Community & Marketing, VentureFizz

In the startup world, many key employees come on board with specific skill sets and play roles as individual contributors.  As the company gains traction and begins to expand rapidly, the early employees may be looked upon to build teams.  However, everyone that is getting tagged on the shoulder might not have previous experience managing people and no one has time to train these new leaders or time to implement managerial procedures and best practices. 

Enter Grokky. 

Grokky is a manager-friendly tool to make sure your company has consistent, effective, one-on-one communication.  One-on-one’s, as Co-Founder Dan Abdinoor sees it, is the most essential part of a successful manager’s role, yet is overlooked far too often. 

Abdinoor and Co-Founder Patrick Fitzsimmons met during their days at HubSpot.  We all know Dharmesh Shah and Brian Halligan as the founders of HubSpot, but next in line was Fitzsimmons, their first full-time hire. 

As the Founding Engineer at HubSpot, Fitzsimmons was tasked with building the initial product. He single-handedly wrote the first versions of HubSpot’s website builder & content management system. 

Abdinoor joined HubSpot about a year after Fitzsimmons as a Senior Developer and they both found themselves taking on management roles as HubSpot grew to nearly 700 employees. 

Along the way, the two realized they wanted to build something together on their own.  Of course they tinkered with other ideas, but as they remembered their management challenges during their early days at HubSpot, it ended up being the right opportunity to build a SaaS company. 

This past January, Fitzsimmons left HubSpot and the following Monday joined Abdinoor at the office and the two began to build. 

So what exactly is Grokky and how does it work? 

First, let me share the origin of the name (it may even shed some light on their vision and product as a whole). I asked Abdinoor the meaning behind “Grokky:”  

“Grok is a word that we used a lot at HubSpot. I think Dharmesh used to say it every day. Basically it means to understand something intuitively. From there, we applied the naming advice from Steve Jobs ("start from the generic term for something, then romanticize it.").  Hence Grokky! We want this company to help managers ‘grok’ their employees, motivations and goals.” 

Grokky is currently focusing in on the one-on-one aspect of management and is completely email based. During their discovery days they talked to a lot of target users about what application they used most and email was the overwhelming answer. 

The platform allows managers to easily schedule, track and remain on top of personal meetings with their team members. No more taking notes on review forms or notebooks. Grokky allows you to simply reply to the email notification for the meeting with your remarks and those notes will be stored within that email chain. When you’re reminded, via email, of your next one-on-one those notes will be there. 

Grokky ultimately wants to be a go-to for management best practices.  They currently offer up a standard meeting agenda along with management questions (including one revolving question geared to ‘pry’ the employee a bit more), which can be customized by each user. Abdinoor tells me, though, that so far there has been very little tinkering among its user base. 

                

For a manager with multiple direct reports, they can open up Grokky and assess each employee one by one. The platform allows them to review goals and tasks that may need attention, look back at all previous meeting notes, and share employee records with upper levels of management, as well. At any point, if a manager wants to be sure an email to a specific employee is saved and recorded within Grokky they simply CC “notes@grokky.com.”

                   

At just $5 per manager (unlimited direct reports) Grokky is priced to sell. Abdinoor tells me any company that signs up at this rate will be grandfathered in, as the pricing will likely evolve over time. Grokky currently has several Boston-based companies as clients, including Kyruus, Continuum, Codeship, Litographs, and BuySellAds

To date, Grokky has been completely self-funded by Abdinoor and Fitzsimmons. They foresee raising capital (and have had some discovery conversations) in the future, but at this point nothing is imminent. 

The product appears to seamlessly integrate with current procedures and early user feedback is proving Grokky valuable. Currently, the price is also right. Get in now and you may see your company benefit just as those HubSpot early adopters did and be paying paying a fraction of what new users will be shelling out 5 years from now. 

Josh Boyle is Director of Community & Marketing, VentureFizz.  You can follow him on Twitter: @jb_sid
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