In May of 2015 I met with the executive team at Starbucks to share my perspectives on personalization—an assemblage of ideas from my experience in digital marketing, work with digital agents and intelligent services at Microsoft, and envisioning the future of health care for Kaiser Permanente. I was joined by an all-star delegation from BCG and Digital Ventures to pitch a unique working relationship and business opportunity. The thesis of the BCG/DV approach is to leverage BCG's business network with corporate backed venture funding—ensuring both healthy financial incentives and a solid first customer for the new startup. The Starbucks team valued our approach and could see the potential of being both the customer and investor. We secured our Series A funding round in February of 2016, led by BCG and Starbucks.
Our team began as a collaboration between our CEO Christian Selchau-Hansen and myself. I brought in two of the most capable innovators I've had the pleasure to work with, Jason and Ryan Hickner—brothers who form the mythical unicorn unity of world-class design and deep engineering skills. The four of us became the founding team and set off to build a scalable, enterprise-grade software platform that could deliver individualized, gamified offers designed to drive new and beneficial customer behaviors.
Operating as code name "Fractal", we leveraged BCG's data science team Gamma, engineering vendors and contractors to bootstrap the platform development. We were able to move from concept to a fully operational product in less than 6 months—engaging with millions of Starbucks' customers and far exceeding the predicted impact.
In June of 2016 we changed our name to Takt, a word that means "rhythm" in German. It's also the name for the conductor's baton—a metaphor we found congruous with customer orchestration and driving behavioral outcomes. The single syllable, four-letter .com domain was also a prized acquisition, cementing our legitimacy as a player in the San Francisco startup community.
Perched atop one of the Embarcadero Center towers, Takt grew to 35 full time team members by the end of 2016. Our growth strategy was to replace all the contractors and vendors with FTEs. We also began looking for our new headquarters, ideally in the SOMA neighborhood near Caltrain and South Park (the epicenter of SF startup culture).
In February of 2017, at our one year anniversary, we moved into a beautiful standalone building a block from South Park (and two blocks from my first tech job back in 1990). Our space is a light-filled, brick and timber, four-story warehouse built in 1924.
On our two year anniversary we announced that we've changed our name to Formation, a name we feel reflects our mission to empower organizations to deepen relationships with their customers as individuals. We're also using this transition as an opportunity to share more details about our Motivation Alignment Platform, or Formation MAP.
Our team is now approaching 120 (FTE's + contractors) and we're seeing success with our second large customer. It feels like a good moment to reflect, and recognize the incredible team effort and journey so far. We're expecting another year of rapid growth, so please visit our careers page or reach out to me if you're looking for new opportunities ;)
For more information about Formation and our MAP platform, please visit formation.ai.
Mar 7, 2018