Lead(H)er: Anne Beckett, President and COO at Hopjump
Anne Beckett seeks to understand her world. The President and COO of Hopjump, a travel-focused startup, maintain a level-headed approach to thoughts, events, and activities, and her sharply rational mind has helped her put everything in its place.
Anne began making sense of things at Bowdoin College, where she studied economics and math as well as art history, the latter of which she says was critical to her development.
“It’s a way of rationalizing things,” Anne said of her art history minor. “It’s looking at a painting and trying to understand why the painter made the decisions that they did and analyzing the feelings they were trying to evoke, and how they went about that.”
After college, Anne completed a one-year master’s program at the Barcelona Graduate School of Finance and Economics. She chose to attend graduate school in Spain in part because her duties as captain of the Bowdoin rowing team prevented her from going abroad during college.
The year abroad not only helped Anne accomplish an additional year of academic achievement, but it also gave her some much-needed time to consider what she wanted to do for work when she returned to the states. Having an immediate impact on her new employer was important, as was a dynamic environment. She turned down several offers from large, established companies to work at Cogo Labs, a startup incubator whose startup ideas are all developed in-house before being spun off into their own companies.
Anne began her Cogo Labs career as an analyst, helping develop and implement business strategies for companies like EverQuote, a startup under the Cogo Labs umbrella.
“It didn’t matter how many years of experience you had,” Anne said. “It mattered if you could create something of value. Those results were really measurable, so I could see the impact that I was having and feel like I was making a difference at work.”
At Cognius, a company she helped found and spin-off from Cogo Labs, Anne was responsible for building the fledgling company’s entire team of analysts from scratch. Cognius began as a data-driven company focused on online jobs, but gaps in the feedback loop caused Anne and the rest of the company’s management to reconsider that focus.
“If we show a job to one of our Cognius users and that person clicks on the job, we know the person is interested in the job, but we don’t know if they applied to the job, if they get an interview, or if they get the job,” Anne said. “That made it really hard for us to do what we’re best at, which is serving our consumers with a personalized and dynamic experience, based on their evolving preferences.”
After careful consideration, Cognius became Hopjump, which uses a data-driven approach to show customers the best hotel deals and most relevant travel options. “The travel industry is very advanced online”, Anne said, “and with so much data about who purchased a hotel room and whether they enjoyed their stay, the company is in a unique position to put all of its data collection and analysis to use.”
Soon after the switch to Hopjump, Anne became COO of the company and took on a more strategic role in helping to shape the direction of Hopjump.
“Taking tough problems, breaking them down, and solving them methodically is really my day-to-day activity at work,” she said.
Right now, her latest challenge is how to get Hopjump to a place where it can be acquired or have an IPO. For Anne Beckett, it’s the ultimate goal: build something substantial that is not only interesting to buyers but also truly impacts the way everyone travels.
Rapid Fire Questions
What do you like to do in your free time?
Working for a travel company, I always like to do market research and take trips to new places. I think there’s a lot of value to seeing different places in the world, experiencing new cultures. I also enjoy hiking and getting outside whenever I can. New Hampshire is good for a hiking day trip, and my favorite longer hiking trip would be up in Banff in Canada.
How do you typically handle stress?
My strategy is to reduce it as much as possible before it hits. That comes down to two things: hiring the best people I can find, and having clear plans and processes in place for common everyday situations. When things go wrong, some of the time there’s a plan in place that addresses the emergency, and the rest of the time I know that I’m working with the best people I could find, and they’re doing everything they can to remedy the situation. That reduces stress a lot.
How many cups of coffee do you drink in a day?
I actually gave up coffee a few years ago, but I do drink a lot of water. So much so that my team got me a comically oversized 64 oz Hopjump branded water bottle.
What’s one of your greatest accomplishments, aside from family?
It’s the team that I’ve assembled at Hopjump. Finding people who all are smart, motivated to succeed, extremely capable, and all enjoy working together is something that I think is rare. Just last week, I was trying to get everyone to head home early on a Friday and they wouldn’t leave. They just enjoy spending time together and they really take pride in the work we do.
What’s your favorite spot in the Boston area?
There are many great spots in Boston but my favorite is the Longfellow Bridge. I live in Cambridge, so on the weekends I’ll often walk down to the Cambridge side of the Charles River and go across the bridge and get nice view of Boston and Cambridge. You can see the sailboats in the summer, as well as the skyline.
Is this where you saw yourself 10 years ago?
When I was in graduate school I figured out that I wanted to work in an organization where I could make a difference. In reality the career I found at Cogo Labs, and now at Hopjump, is way better than I could have imagined. I couldn’t have seen then the opportunities that I’ve had, and definitely not the ones I have now. I never expected to become as addicted to startups as I did, and never expected to have so many opportunities within Cogo Labs and Hopjump to build something that I think will influence the daily lives of Americans, and hopefully people around the world, one day.
What’s your advice for recent college graduates?
Look for a place you can grow quickly, you see yourself staying for more than a few years, and where you’re impressed by the caliber of the others on the team. Take every opportunity you can to be of value to your team and the company. If you build a strong brand at first, that will stay with you for a long time. And also, find a place where the work is challenging and compelling, where the mission is something you’re really interested in, and the people are people you want to spend time with.
Images courtesy of Anne Beckett and Hopjump