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We went back-to-back-to-back on the road in Q1 and wrapped up the first half of the year by hosting Startup Showdown, the virtual edition. The virtual competition is open to startups from coast to coast, and the energy on stage rivaled the city-wide stops.
After much deliberation from the guest investor judges, BIP Ventures announced JourneyTrack as the winner and recipient of the $120,000 investment prize. The company offers an enterprise SaaS platform that enables organizations to understand, optimize, and prioritize the customer experience. "CX" is vital for businesses, since it boosts customer satisfaction, builds brand loyalty, and ultimately, drives revenue growth. In fact, companies that focus on improving the customer experience gain on average an 80% increase in revenue.
We recently spoke to JourneyTrack Founder and CEO Ania Rodriguez to learn more about her company and her experience in our Startup Showdown pitch competition.
I was born in New Jersey to Cuban-immigrant parents. When I was still quite young we moved to Miami, to Hialeah specifically, which has a large Cuban population. My dad operated his own catering service or "cantina," which made and delivered food to the home.I was a good student in high school and won a scholarship to Carnegie Mellon University where I received a mechanical engineering degree, then went to work for a company as an engineer. While there, I got my master's degree in industrial engineering before going to work for IBM in 2000.
I was with IBM for seven years, where I took on leadership roles and worked on issues around front-end user experiences. This was before CX was a "thing" like it is now. From there, I went to work for Keynote, where I ran its New York office and got even more involved in customer experience. Keynote was also where I learned to sell, specifically to enterprise customers. Then the 2008 recession hit, and I was forced to lay off staff and could see the handwriting on the wall for myself. I used the situation to found Key Lime Interactive, a research, strategy, and design services agency focused on helping companies build better brand experiences, products, and services. Key Lime has had a very successful trajectory and is focused on the Fortune 500.
About a year ago, I turned over the daily operations of Key Lime to its COO so that I could focus on building a customer-experience platform, which evolved into JourneyTrack, as a completely separate venture.
Brands struggle to deliver the seamless journeys consumers need and demand across physical and digital channels and geographies. Understanding and managing these journeys is especially vital in our current economy where it's even more essential to retain customers. JourneyTrack allows enterprises to break through informational silos to create accurate customer personas and map out end-to-end user journeys across the organization, harnessing actionable insights and benchmarking improvements over time, with the goal of delivering ideal customer experiences, regardless of channel or geography.
JourneyTrack differentiates itself through its ability to handle the complexities of enterprise-level team collaboration, including the ability to see different customer perspectives. It was also created with input from 15 world-renowned brands to ensure it can meet the challenges these size companies face.
Yes. We completed beta last year and are compliant with enterprise software requirements and certifications. JourneyTrack currently has customers that include such leading names as Google, Amazon, and others (you can see a sampling of our customers here). We are also experiencing interest from leading financial enterprises.
We participated in the Global Startup Showcase at the eMerge Americas conference that took place in Miami earlier this year. BIP Ventures was highly involved in eMerge Americas, including providing part of the showcase's winning investment prize and helping to evaluate pitch applications. A member of the team came by our booth while at eMerge Americas, and we learned of the upcoming Startup Showdown pitch competition during our conversation.
The feedback provided during Mentor Day was extremely valuable. While I've participated in other pitch competitions, I've always been a bit shy about discussing my background and qualifications. I've been in this space for over two decades and advised C-level clients on a range of customer experience issues. The Startup Showdown process really clarified to me that I needed to double down on telling my story, the problem we're solving, and what JourneyTrack has behind it to ensure its success — such as the enterprises that are already using our technology.
Another thing I liked is that BIP Ventures as well as the Startup Showdown judges and mentors really understand the B2B market. In other competitions where I was up against B2C companies, I had to spend a lot of time explaining what customer experience is and why it's so important.
The investment will go toward sales and marketing. While we already have a number of large enterprise customers, we really want to broaden our reach and amplify our voice to reach more organizations.
When you do make important network connections, do what you can to keep the communication lines open. If they'll allow it, try to regularly reach out to keep on their radar and let them know what you're up to. For example, I met one of the BIP Ventures team members at eMerge Americas. When I had a speaking engagement in Atlanta a few weeks later, I connected with them again and got to meet another team member I hadn't had the opportunity to meet at the Miami event. It's all about building relationships and keeping the doors open.
Thanks, Ania, and congratulations again!
Is your startup next for the spotlight? Applications are always open and early-stage startups can apply at www.startupshowdown.vc.