Startup Stories: Hibox, an app for digital collaboration
Our startup stories now bring out Hibox, an app focused on three key aspects related to work teams: coordination, collaboration and communication, by means of the integration, in one platform, of messages, tasks and videoconferences. This startup was included within the group of finalists to the South Summit 2016, an important event aimed at boosting the enterprising ecosystem, which was held in Madrid.
When and for what purposes Hibox formed?
Co-founders Spencer Coon and Mariano Colombelli built Hibox after experiencing the difficulty in communicating and working together with a large team of 40+ programmers with no central office while building online banking solutions for large companies in Latin America such as BBVA. They decided to build a product for teams of any size that covers all of the necessities for digital collaboration: organized group chat, built-in task management, and instant videoconferencing. With additional integrations for information sharing, Hibox is made to be to be the ultimate digital workspace for businesses of any size and industry – not just tech-savvy startups.
How does Hibox work?
After creating an account with Hibox, you can invite as many as your colleagues as you want to join you. From here, you can all chat together and organize your conversation into streams for better focus. All conversations are saved and searchable so important information is never lost like in email. You can create actionable, trackable tasks right in chat to assign to specific users at specific times. All tasks can be viewed and filtered in an organized calendar or list view so they never get lost. Aside from chat, you can video conference with anyone with just one click. Tasks and video conferencing are built right into Hibox so you don’t need to get employees signed up, lo gged in, or paying for different platforms to get the tools you need. Other easy-to-set up integrations that make information sharing simple are Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, and email. Hibox also have a built-in AI personal assistant that helps all employees with little tasks to save time. For example, when you’ve sent a chat message that sounds like you’re wanting to assign a task, Hibox will automatically ask you if you want to make it a task and give you the options to assign and set a due date right away.
What have been the most important results of Hibox?
Over the last year, we’ve accomplished quite a bit and things are beginning to really pick up thanks to opportunities like South Summit 2016. One of our first big deals that was hugely important was our initial investment from Telefónica which led to us signing a commercial agreement with Telefónica to resell Hibox to their massive network of business clients. Next came the closing of our $1 million investment funding round that’s helped us grow internationally. We started in Argentina and have now opened offices in Brazil and Barcelona, Spain, to focus on the Brazilian and European markets. We’ve reached over 10,000 registered companies with over 35,000 active users. With milestones like these behind us, we’re excited to see where the next year takes us!
What are the prospects for 2017 Hibox?
As AI for the workplace begins to build in popularity, Hibox is looking to develop new features to the AI personal assistant to further help employees with repetitive and annoying tasks so they can better focus on their core work. Hibox has already begun to develop new features that are currently being tested in the lab before rolling out to all users this next year. For example, Hibox is soon to include automatically scheduling. Hibox will recognize when you are wanting to schedule a meeting, ask you if you want to put it on your calendar, and immediately cross-reference your calendars to suggest the best time and place for the meeting. Other incredible AI features like this are on their way in 2017 to help companies stay productive – not busy – and focused on what they do best.
What importance do you attach to having been included in the final of the South Summit 2016?
Being chosen as one of the top startups at South Summit 2016 was huge for Hibox. We’re honored to have been held at that standard by South Summit. We think it says a lot about what we’re building and trying to do for all business, big and small. Getting to attend and be a part of South Summit 2016 was a fantastic networking, learning, and growing opportunity for us. We made plenty of great connections and received some very valuable feedback that we’ll be taking action on to help us grow significantly in the next year. It was great timing for us to announce the opening of our new Barcelona office and our new presence in Europe. We hope, as a result, we were able to reach many companies and teams who will benefit from using Hibox!
What mistakes can lead to the failure of a startup?
Some big struggles we’ve faced in the past at Hibox come along with difficulties in setting our company culture and onboarding process. Hibox was built as a result of a remote team and so naturally, it was easy for us to continue with that. It’s a great way to build a team if done properly – a lot of companies are headed in that direction. Even our product helps remote teams work productively! You’re able to select the most talented individuals for each position regardless of location. We really wanted to take advantage of this at first. But after some failed attempts at properly making that connection and getting to a good workflow with employees, we realized we needed to establish a consistent company culture and onboarding process. We decided we wanted new employees to have at least a few months at our HQ before going remote to get on the same page and build a personal connection that builds a strong team. Not having a solid plan for onboarding and remote operations is one way new startups can lose employees and fall apart quickly.
What 5 tips would you share with other entrepreneurs?
1. Make sure what you’re doing really solves real pains companies or individuals face. It’s easy to get wrapped up in developing cool tech just for the sake of developing cool tech. But there’s no point and you won’t survive unless people actually need and want what you’re offering them.
2. Get as much criticism as possible on your product or service. Know what bothers and disinterests people while you are still in prototype phase, even right down to the little details in product design. This will make getting your first users when you do launch much easier and ensure your product is satisfying enough them while still making improvements (which you will be).
3. Think from an end users perspective. As a tech-savvy entrepreneur, it’s easy to forget how an older employee in an office will feel trying to use your product. Taking the end user’s perspective first while developing and making improvements will make your product more applicable to a larger market and a solution rather than another pain for customers.
4. Resist the temptation to build every single feature your clients or prospect asks for. While it is super important to listen to client feedback, it is equally important to create a product with great usability that doesn’t need a user manual for people to understand how it works. Adding excessive features can distract from the main problem you’re solving and add unnecessary complexity.
5. My list of the best tools to use for managing small startup teams: 1) Intercom (direct, instant communication with clients), 2) Pipedrive (CRM designed for small teams, 3) Unbounce (create landing pages with no tech experience), 4) Google Drive (simultaneous document editing) and of course 5) Hibox (task management, team messaging and videoconferencing in one app).
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