Why Did I Start tenXer?
I’ve never liked the term serial entrepreneur.
The notion that you go from one company to the next, one idea to another or from team to team cheapens the real process of building a company.
I’ve actually begrudgingly called myself a serial entrepreneur and yes I’ve started or helped start three different companies. The first, Golfspan.com, was a golf instructional company way ahead of its time. After many years of survival it was sold to Demand Media.
The second, CircleLending, was a way for people to lend and borrow money from people they knew. After many pivots starts and stops and long after my departure it was sold to Richard Branson and Virgin.
Finally, my last company, Citizen Sports, originally PROTRADE, started as a next generation fantasy game and eventually became a sports media company specializing in social media and mobile. After seven years of many successes and failures, Yahoo decided they needed to bolster their social and mobile efforts and bought us.
After the sale closed, I took some time off and traveled the world (literally). I wrote a book about how to use data and analytics to make better decisions and as I started thinking about my next move, I became fixated on how data and analytics could be used to change people’s behavior.
The first place I looked for inspiration was the fitness space and the whole quantified self movement. The notion that data and tracking one’s behaviors could actually make us healthier seemed both novel and noble. But as I dove deeper into the industry I got discouraged by the notion that the business might simply be too niche – see people are simply too lazy and the ones that really need to be healthier don’t want to.
Then amidst my turmoil of what to do next, my friend Niel Robertson, sent me a deck inspired by some of the work they were doing at his company, Trada. The gist of the deck was that by applying game mechanics to work, we could make employees more productive. Niel knew I was looking for my next move and encouraged me to start a company around this idea – the gamification of work.
Of course, I knew this wasn’t a novel idea. In fact, back in May 2011, when Niel sent me this deck, gamification was just starting to catch fire.
As I thought about how Niel’s idea meshed with my passions, I started thinking about my true passion – sports. I thought about Barry Bonds and Michael Jordan and what made them great (besides steroids). Beyond their talent both were defined by their incredible drive to be the best. In fact many believe that Bonds’ next level drive was spawned watching Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa chase a record – a stat – a number.
So numbers clearly motivate and inspire in sports. And numbers are largely absent in work. We know we want to be better at our jobs but do we have any idea how to measure ourselves. Yet so much of what we do at work is captured and tracked, yet largely ignored.
At tenXer, our vision is to make you better and make your work better. We believe that by making feedback objective, instantaneous and measurable, we can make you a tenXer – someone who is ten times better than the average employee.
Traditional human resource software is all about the boss and creates overhead for the employee. We believe that by designing the tenXer experience about making the employee better, more intrinsically motivated we have an opportunity to change the way people work – forever.
- Jeff @ tenXer