This week, we were honored that Springbot was named one of Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 2016 Best Places to Work for the second year in a row. Much of the amazing community that we have here was set in motion by our company’s leadership with guidance from our co-founder and CEO, Brooks Robinson.
Prior to Springbot, he co-founded and held various leadership positions, including Chief Marketing Officer, at Cbeyond – an Atlanta-based success story that grew to approximately $500 million in revenue. Brooks is heavily involved in nonprofit and mentorship groups in Atlanta such as Kate’s Club and Entrepreneurs Organization.
“I believe that if you get culture right, most of the other stuff like developing a great product, delivering on a positive customer experience, or building a long-term successful company falls into place. It’s all about living the journey as a team and making everyone feel their impact every step of the way,” says Robinson, when asked about why he values company culture. That’s Robinson in a nutshell. He’s an entrepreneur that values culture and encourages a sense of community, showing that the path to growth comes in valuing the people you hire and that the fun comes from doing it as a team.
The marketing team sat down with Robinson to talk about his path to entrepreneurship, his vision for Springbot, and why building a vibrant company culture is the cornerstone of any successful business.
Q: Based on your experience, what advice do you have for other entrepreneurs looking to grow their business?
A: There are several pieces of advice I’ve learned that have proven true for us here at Springbot:
- Work with people you like and trust. This naturally leads to a strong team that can take on the day-to-day of business and, eventually, change the world together.
- Go after a large market and solve a big problem. Time is precious, so spend it solving a problem that changes the daily life for as many people as possible. For example, when starting Springbot, we went after the massive market of eCommerce retailers and sought to solve the biggest problem they faced — monitoring and optimizing their marketing efforts.
- Set core values from the start, and more importantly, follow through with them. This means using them as standards for hiring, making decisions, and building community within your company.
- Celebrate often and celebrate as a team. Don’t let milestones go by without savoring the moment.
- Don’t isolate yourself or your company. Be open to learning from mentors, becoming a mentor, and building a professional network. You should be purposeful about forming relationships with others in order to find value in networking opportunities.
Q: What does the importance of culture and team have on a company’s big picture strategy and results? How do you foster a strong sense of community within a team that’s growing rapidly?
A: Your culture is amplified in times of big opportunity and high stakes, so be intentional about the culture that you’re creating and the expectations you set for the people you bring onto your team. Think of this as the airport test and ask yourself, “If I were at the airport with this person, would I enjoy hanging out with them at the gate while waiting for our flight, or would I bolt to the gift shop?”
We’ve adopted a mantra at Springbot that says, “Don’t just be a taxpayer; be a citizen.” Taxpayers put in what’s required of them and nothing more. Citizens give back and are invested in the wellbeing of their community. For members of our team, that means being involved in not only the events that we host to build our internal community, like volunteering with Trees Atlanta, but also participating in organizations like Technology Association of Georgia, Midtown Alliance, Techstars, Kate’s Club, Atlanta Track Club and Entrepreneurs Organization.
You can encourage a strong sense of community by establishing formal things like quarterly meetings, company-wide events, group outings, and lunch and learns. Under the surface, it’s important to impart cultural norms like transparency and openness. Ultimately, it’s vital to protect the culture that you create and stay true to the core values you establish at the start of your company.
Q: Have you noticed any shifts or major trends in the Atlanta tech community since you joined it, and what role does Springbot play in the Atlanta tech community?
A: Since 1999, I’ve seen numerous success stories and growth come from the Atlanta tech community. Even in the past 5 years there has been more infrastructure and access to resources for early stage startups like co-working spaces, accelerators, and incubators. It started with the ATDC, then the Atlanta Tech Village, and now there is a whole host of incredible spaces including Tech Square Labs where entrepreneurs can come together and grow.
Springbot strives to be an ambassador for the Atlanta tech scene. We try to welcome entrepreneurs, new companies, and investors and give a good name to the community. Along with participating in mentorship opportunities through organizations like Techstars and the ATDC, we’re building future leaders. It’s our hope that the people who come to work at Springbot one day are empowered to start their own businesses or innovate within other companies. Springbot is a springboard, if you will, for great things in the Atlanta area and beyond.
Q: Which major trends do you see happening in eCommerce? Will we see any of these in play during the upcoming holiday season?
A: Although quick to point out that Erika Jolly Brookes, CMO and marketing expert at Springbot, was the best to answer this question, he did provide some insightful, and Erika approved, holiday predictions:
- Social will sell. In 2016 it’s clear that social media has advanced far beyond networking, and has migrated to a channel where retailers can sell their products (think Shoppable Instagram or Pinterest’s “Buyable Pins”), generate customer reviews for social proof and get very granular with ad targeting through sites like Facebook and Instagram. This will be a huge trend this holiday season.
- Video marketing is a must. Having high-resolution photos are starting to become outdated, quickly being replaced with video marketing. According to Cisco, video is expected to account for 69% of all consumer internet traffic by the end of 2015. The great thing about this trend is that there are tools readily available to produce high-quality videos for even the smallest of eCommerce stores. Ideas include how to’s, product launches, behind-the-scenes shoots, and user generated videos that are shareable on social channels like Instagram and Snapchat and great content for email newsletters and blogs.
- Email is still king. Even with the rise of social media and all the other forms of marketing, email is still top dog. Which is one of the reasons behind the increasing number of email collection pop-up boxes you’ll see on various eCommerce sites. And while collecting email addresses via a pop-up is a great idea, don’t do it at the expense of good website design or user experience.
Q: When you’re not at Springbot, what do you do in your free time?
A: I play ice hockey at least twice a week on two different teams in Atlanta. My wife Jen and I are also part of the Grunge Dinner Club made up of about 50 friends who once a month visit off-the-beaten path restaurants here in Atlanta and the surrounding area. Other than that, you’ll find me working with Techstars, Kate’s Club, the Entrepreneurs Organization, and hanging out by my pool thinking about what’s next for Springbot and our customers.
Springbot was founded in 2012 by Brooks Robinson (CEO), Joe Reger (CTO), and Allen Nance. Their mission is to help small and medium-sized eCommerce businesses grow their revenue and understand their marketing efforts through big data, predictive analytics, and marketing automation.