Startup Spotlight: Diversity Dashboard

Jan 14, 2018

 

Startup Spotlight: Diversity Dashboard

Jan 14, 2018

Meet Kari Heistad – Founder and CEO of Diversity Dashboard, an online project management software designed to help diversity professionals.

GH: What is Diversity Dashboard?

The Diversity Dashboard is an online project management software designed to help diversity professionals track their activities, measure their results and analyze their ROI

Kari Heistad, Founder & CEO of Diversity Dashboard

GH: What was your Eureka moment: how did Diversity Dashboard get started?

I have owned a consulting and training company called Culture Coach International for 20 years. We provide services and tools in the diversity space and the questions about how to measure diversity and what metrics should be used kept coming up with my clients. We did a national survey to assess if this was an issue for other diversity professionals and the answer was a resounding yes.

GH: How did you build your team?

I have built the team by finding people who are equally passionate about creating workplaces that are inclusive, diverse and innovative.  We know that our work can make the workplace better for millions of people around the world and that drives our passion.

GH: What is your company philosophy driving your company culture?

We are living the values that our product will help to promote in the workplace ourselves. We have a team that covers many aspects of diversity, we are respectful of each person’s background and experiences and we also like to have fun.  We are creating the team culture that is engaging and dynamic and which embraces diversity.

GH: Startup life is full of failures and ‘make it work’ moments – can you identify how you bounced back from one of yours?

We are a young company so there have been no huge failures of yet, but we did face a hard deadline when I was speaking at a diversity conference and an outside tech team wasn’t able to complete everything in time. We were able to scramble internally as a team and pull off what we needed to to meet our deadline.

 

GH: What did you learn from your first customers?

We are launching our beta in early 2018 and we will have our first customers then. What we have learned from our research with our potential beta testers is that there is a wider use for our product than we initially thought. We are seeing people talk about using the product to solve problems in ways that we didn’t initially anticipate. This is very exciting as we can see how it will can help companies solve workplace is
sues that currently don’t have solutions now.

GH: What has the Boston ecosystem provided you?

Boston is an amazing place to start a company – particularly in SaaS. There are more events to attend than are possible for networking and education and there are numerous incubators that will help people to get started. I am currently part of the great WIN Lab program out of Babson College that helps women to grow their companies through a 9 month incubator. Another great resource is the Center for Women in Enterprise.

GH: What is the Boston ecosystem lacking from your perspective?

There are two large disconnects from what I have found.  Both are essentially the same problem. A lack of overlap of networks.

  1. Founders finding tech talent to work with if you are not a tech person. This is a discussion I have all of the time and when I have asked successful tech folks about this there has been no answer other than a generic ” networking.”
  2. Connecting funders to early stage companies. I have gone to many events and office hours to connect with funders. All of them say something like this “the best way to get in front of me is to have someone I know introduce you.” But, if you are not part of that ecosystem already, how do you get in? As a woman founder in tech, I know that only 3% of the funding comes to people like me anyway so I am already fighting the statistics.

 

GH: What’s the best/worst piece of advice you were given along the way?

Best: “Think bigger – your product can be used by legal teams in addition to diversity professionals.”
Worst: “Find someone in my network who knows me and have them introduce you.”

GH: What was the best thing that happened to you last year?

Finding each of my team members, they are all wonderfully skilled and amazing people.

GH: What does the future hold for Diversity Dashboard?

Huge growth. My brother and I have a way to measure the value of an idea and [it comes down to] how much latent energy it has. Meaning, how easily does it gain momentum? The Diversity Dashboard has latent energy and people are excited about how it can solve their current problems so 2018 will be an amazing year.

 

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