BigCommerce co-founder launches 'real time feedback' platform for teams

PeopleSpark wants to start a dialogue between staff and managers. Carl Court/Getty

Mitchell Harper, the co-founder of BigCommerce, has jumped into the crowded enterprise communication field with a new platform called PeopleSpark.

But PeopleSpark is not for inter-team communication.

Unlike Facebook for Work, Slack, HipChat or LinkedIn, all of which work to reduce friction on team conversations, PeopleSpark fosters more dialogue between bosses and employees.

With PeopleSpark, managers can send out questions and have them answered in near real-time. If someone is being held up by someone else, or struggling for whatever reason, managers can intervene before the issue escalates.

“You can give your boss feedback, straight away, in real time, about what is going on,” explains Harper.

Harper talks about sending out surveys to employees in his previous companies, asking questions like what developers are working on, and what is slowing them down. The idea was to identify issues before they arise.

“The feedback was great, but we had to hack together lots of different tools and we only surveyed once a quarter,” says Harper.

“I also wanted to shorten the feedback loop to give managers weekly insights from their team instead of quarterly, which is too slow — especially if you’re growing quickly.”

The platform is aimed at smaller companies, and especially ones that pursue project based work – such as the developers at BigCommerce and PeopleSpark. It fits in with Agile Software Development methodology, which is vogue among software developers for breaking down big projects into 1-3 week blocks.

For companies that aren’t organised the same way, Harper sees PeopleSpark as replacing quarterly or annual performance reviews. Instead, turning them into a real-time or weekly performance review.

“Any company is really just a bunch of teams. They have different hierarchies and different numbers of people in the team,” says Harper.

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