The startup Echo.it was founded in 2010 by Stefan K. Madsen with the mission to take advantage of the internet to help implement corporate strategies by promoting desirable behaviour and creating better data-points. In this month of April, 2014 Echo.it had a change in leadership as Lutz Könnecker was appointed as the new CEO and Madsen took on the roll of “Chief Storyteller”.
Madsen was kind enough to have an interview with me.
For what reasons do you prefer working with the more visionary, developmental side to the business as “Chief Storyteller” compared with the more bureaucratic side?
“Well to me it was very much another world if you work with the bureaucratic side, you have to be able to make really fast and quick decisions and if you are bootstrapping for a long time it gets harder and harder. It takes another type of creative energy to work with the more bureaucratic side as well but to be on the ball and always focusing. After all I am only human and I can only do one of two things. After we sat there and had a good talk about it and I thought about it, I realized it actually made more sense for me to work on the visionary and creative side so we came to the conclusion that we did. We’re excited about it and that I can now focus on the product and focus on getting us to the next level in terms of what I do and what I want to do.”
Holding a M.Sc. in Economics and Business Administration from Copenhagen Business School, Madsen graduated in the top tier. Madsen has worked with the Danish Ministry of Business affairs and Economics and has been the CFO in Actimizer.
What moves have you planned to take next in your new roll?
“First of all, we launched a product we were excited about that we were experimenting on and there’s going to be a lot more focus about that on our external social media platforms. We’ll also do a lot more general speaking engagement and look forward to being way more on the ball in terms of what our mission is and what we are trying to achieve five years down the line and what choices we have to make now. I want to try to make that reality of five years into three years. I think that’s a really important decision.”
Do you have any ideas what kind of effects the change in leadership will have on the users?
“I don’t think the end users will experience it that much, I think that we have a pretty good product right now and we will continue to do so and hopefully it will be even more interesting of course, but I think it’s more in terms of the business that there’s going to be a lot of changes. I think there’s going to be a lot more professionalism and a lot more execution and focus on actually building a proper company so to speak, whereas before it wasn’t really 100%.”
In a post published on Echo.it’s own blog, Madsen details the motives of the change. After having bootstrapped for many years and gradually building up their consumer base over five continents, Madsen felt it was appropriate to pass on the “paperwork” so to say to one of their investors; Könnecker. Könnecker has an impressive record of helping firms grow and has forward-thinking dreams for the future. The change was a mutual and positive decision.
In what ways do you believe Lutz Könnecker will lead the firm in contrast to your leadership?
“Lutz has a lot more experience that I don’t have and I think he’s going to be bringing that to us as well. He’s also very focused on the cash flow and all of these things that you need to be focused on. Unlike me, he analyzes things before and he only acts when it makes a lot of sense and in that position you have to wait a little bit. I think now that definitely we will begin to see a lot of changes but only for the better!”
So how does it work?
Echo.it is an enterprising social network with a purpose. Its purpose is to reestablish and strengthen the bond of communication and productivity between the employees of a business. It helps translate company goals, values and strategies into action. In addition, it creates better data-points for implementing and executing corporate strategies. Through the service Echo.it provides, employees and management belong to a private company platform where they are able to share their actions.
Employees can first share their real time actions with their colleagues. A post called an “echo” is published detailing the employee’s moves and can also be tagged with the matching relevant sector of the business. Other colleagues can quickly find echos to read by searching with the tags. Colleagues are able to like and comment on each other’s echos, furthering the level of efficient communication. The power of inspiration is a central theme within the online service; effectiveness is improved by colleagues continuously inspiring each other. Furthermore, employees are motivated to an even larger extent through the use of rewards; badges accumulated with the fulfillment of various tasks. The management also has the power to individually reward employees with personalized awards. Besides providing a social platform for the employees of a company, Echo.it automatically aggregates their social activity into statistical data. The use of charts and such is perfect for analytical data gathering by the management. From the statistical insights and the postings of echos, the management is fully aware of the efficiency of their employees. As well as that, they are kept up to date on the implementation of their strategic goals. They are able to narrow down their potential weaknesses in order to work on eliminating them and promote desired behaviour.
We hope that the change of leadership will bring nothing but positive developments to Echo.it!