Startup Spotlight: LaunchBoard analyzes customer conversations to learn what they want

LaunchBoard CEO Joshua Del Begio, left, and chief product officer Caleb Del Begio. (LaunchBoard Photo)

Brothers Joshua and Caleb Del Begio want to help businesses keep their customers happy, and believe the information is out there to do it. In 2016 they started LaunchBoard, a Vancouver, B.C.-based company that scours tools that are already in use — such as phone calls, emails, in-app chats and user surveys — to find the customer feedback that they analyze.

“Companies have invested heavily into better communication with their customers, but haven’t been able scale their analysis to keep pace,” said CEO Joshua Del Begio, 27. “LaunchBoard fills that gap, and allows companies to learn from their customer conversations at scale.”

Launchboard CEO Joshua Del Begio. (Launchboard Photo)

The brothers describe themselves as serial entrepreneurs, whose enterprises include a startup called Venture Challenge, which is a month-long “build a business” competition for university students. The Venture Challenge app teaches students about about entrepreneurship by having them launch an actual online business, walking them through the steps of the process.

Caleb Del Begio works as chief product officer for LaunchBoard. The third member of their team is chief technology officer Nathan Lapierre. Lapierre built Novabench, a computer performance testing program that is reportedly used by millions of people and thousands of businesses. He additionally has a background in data science and machine learning.

Continue reading for Joshua Del Begio’s answers to our questionnaire for this Startup Spotlight, a regular GeekWire feature.

Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: “We compile and analyze customer conversations to help companies understand what matters most to their customers. For example, we uncover why customers are leaving, or identify what new features will lead to the most growth.”

Inspiration hit us when: “Through customer discovery from our last businesses, we realized how much learning from customer communication is either lost or underutilized and how that can lead to mistakes or missed opportunities.”

VC, Angel or Bootstrap: “We opted to bootstrap while testing our value proposition through conversations with potential customers and running experiments. We’re now talking to VCs. Competing in a rapidly moving market, we see VC investment as the best way to take advantage of the opportunity and get ahead of the game.”

Our ‘secret sauce’ is: “Our ability to compile and find patterns in unstructured qualitative data from a variety of sources, with the option of weighing those insights by business impact. This unlocks the ability to make data-driven decisions from qualitative data at scale in a way that previously was not possible. In our previous venture, we helped thousands of teams with their customer discovery efforts. We learned a lot about the challenges teams face trying to get to the bottom of why their customers buy and what their customers’ desired outcomes are. Now we’re helping them uncover that information from the data they already have.”

The smartest move we’ve made so far: “Beginning with customer discovery. Thank you to the hundreds of product managers who’ve spent time with us, and being open about discussing challenges around customer feedback analysis.”

The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “Being slow to make hard decisions. Ben Horowitz’s ‘The Hard Thing about Hard Things’ does a great job of explaining how to approach hard decisions, many of which we’ve since incorporated.”

Would you rather have Gates, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: “Bezos. He’s built what is arguably the world’s most successful company by listening to the customer.”

Our favorite team-building activity is: “Getting outside, whether it’s for midday walks or taking advantage of a powder day in the mountains. We’re blessed to live in the Pacific Northwest and taking advantage of nature is important to us.”

The biggest thing we look for when hiring is: “The right person at the right time. That can look different depending on the situation. Sometimes it’s someone with less experience but they have the passion and talent to grow into the role. It could also be someone who has been apart of a very high performing team who can bring that experience and know-how to ours. With every hire, it’s a matter of really knowing what we are looking for and what we can compromise on.”

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: “Read about ‘jobs theory’ in ‘Jobs to be Done: Theory to Practice’ by Tony Ulwick. It will help with customer discovery, choosing the opportunity to pursue, selling the idea and understanding people’s motivations in general.

Editor’s note: GeekWire is featuring each of the ten startups in Techstars Seattle leading up to their Demo Day on April 18. Techstars is a worldwide network that offers 40 mentorship-driven accelerator programs around the globe.

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