Every Week we give you insights into a startup’s life, vision and business. This week we are happy to introduce you to Beekeeper.
“If you want to gather honey, don’t kick over the beehive.”
MEET ANDREAS AND THE BEEKEEPER TEAM AT CeBIT SWISS PAVILLION, HALL 6, 14- 18 MARCH 2016, HANOVER, GERMANY.
How can companies connect the unconnected? How can they digitize workplaces of non-office workers? And how can secure enterprise messaging be combined with smart analytics and automated workflows? Find some answers to these questions in our interview with Andreas Slotosch, Partner and VP Marketing at Beekeeper – a Zurich- and San Francisco-based ETH spin-off and start-up with a pioneering enterprise mobile messaging solution.
Andreas, how do you usually communicate at work?
I use e-mail, several messengers, my phone and of course Beekeeper (the mobile communication tool we’ve developed for connecting teams) to communicate at home and at my workplace. Messaging really helps me and sometimes I find it even more efficient compared to emails and calls: it’s faster than emails and easier to manage than unscheduled calls. And I would say this a typical story of an office worker. But can you imagine that many non-desktop workers still mostly communicate via offline channels like pinboards and paper letters, company newspapers, etc? By “non-desktop” I mean people who work in hospitality, manufacturing, retail, etc.
Are there really so many non-desktop workers?
According to latest reviews, it is expected that the share of non-desktop employees in some countries will rise up to 80% by 2020. Now it is around 70% which is approximately 2 billion people. And the reality is that 77% of them already use text messaging tools in their personal communication and 65% of them use social media. Not to forget about smartphone penetration level at around 72%. So there’s a clear contradiction between the modern channels they use in their personal life and the traditional channels their companies use to communicate with them at work. And we hear a lot that at some point people start creating WhatsApp groups on their own. You can imagine how hard it is for managers to control this communication (who has access, what happens when a person leaves the company, etc) and what kind of security risks companies might face because of this. This is where Beekeeper comes into play. We provide these companies with a high proportion of non-desktop employees with an efficient, secure and modern solution to reach and engage every employee.
How does your solution work and what are the advantages?
Beekeeper is a secure mobile enterprise messaging platform that is used by employees in more than 90 countries all over the world. First of all, we provide companies with instant communication channels to reach employees such as one-to-one messaging, group chats, personal updates, and file sharing.
Furthermore, we offer them content streams, live feeds (for specific teams or the entire company) where you can engage people by sharing success stories, achievements and important company news. We also have extra touch points including streaming of selected posts on TVs in company’s public spaces, which leads to a significant increase in engagement and productivity. For example, the internal research data from our client FRHI Hotels & Resorts shows that 78% of the people globally who use the tool (FRHI Talk) feel proud to work for FRHI because of what they see in the company streams and 61% feel inspired to perform an even better job.
On the other hand, we help companies measure and automate their communication, we give them tools to analyze its efficiency and make actionable insights. A customer has a detailed dashboard with analytics of communication trends, usage and engagement. You can also set up polls to understand your people better, to hear their needs and concerns.
Some routine communications can easily be automated in order to save time for managers and improve processes like onboarding. We hear a lot that people keep sending paper letters by post to newcomers (especially in case with temporary workers), which is also hard to control and very time-consuming.
Thanks to Beekeeper, companies are now able to streamline communication and channel it appropriately.
You are based in Zurich and San Francisco, why did you choose these locations for your startup?
Although these cities are very different, they have more in common than meets the eye. Both of them are buzzing bee hives of innovation with thriving startup ecosystems. And they are locations with globally renowned universities and educational institutions. Our startup, for example, is a spin-off from ETH Zurich, a leading hub for education, research, and knowledge transfer. We benefit and profit from our close and personal relationship with brilliant thinkers, ITC-enthusiasts, and inventive minds, many of which have a keen sense of business and profound industry experience. They give us access to their wide network of potential clients, partners, and investors. To put in in one short sentence: Zurich and San Francisco are places to be for smart bees and their peers.
Do you think your idea has disruptive potential?
I believe it does. We help companies reach and connect the people who haven’t been reachable before via modern digital channels. We’re digitizing the workplace and bridging the gap between office and non-office workers. It disrupts the working conditions for 70% of the workforce. And another disruptive thing about our product is that we provide the digital environment where you can create a feeling of one team (with non-desktop workers included) which is not possible in real life given the specifics of our clients’ businesses.
What are your future visions?
I strongly believe that ICT, Industry 4.0, and the Internet of Things represent a megatrend that will change the way we live. Also I foresee a higher role of businesses in environmental protection and development of green technologies (mobile of course). And I think employee engagement will remain one of the key challenges for businesses in future, as modern generations need a sense of purpose, and technology will play a huge role in that.
The interview was conducted by Digital Zurich 2025 and Andreas Slotosch, January 2015.
Watch here the Video from Beekeeper at CeBIT 2016, Hannover, March 16th