Elevator Pitch: CluedIn

Elevator Pitch is a regular feature on Lifehacker where we profile startups and new companies and pick their brains for entrepreneurial advice. This week, we're talking with Tim Ward from CluedIn.

In 128 words or less, explain your business idea.

CluedIn gathers the scattered knowledge that is within a workplace, connects and enriches it, then surfaces it to all employees.

What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?

CluedIn is currently a self-funded business, driven by three former co-workers. We are currently searching for a lead investor that embraces CluedIn's philosophy that a workplace that embraces open knowledge sharing and distribution is not only an efficient workplace but a great place to work at. Hence we are using this philosophy to spread the business value that comes with knowledge fuelled workers and hopefully being part of the inception of the future worker.

With a combination of beta clients and market research we are utilising this experience to show the market what a few weeks with CluedIn does to the fundamental operation of a business and the immediate wins that can be gained from employees being kept more in the loop and feeling more involved in day to day decisions of their workplace.

What's the biggest challenge facing your business?

For us, this one is obvious. We are in the middle of a fundamental shift in the way that organisations are and will run. The biggest challenge facing our business is the ability for organisations to move into the new and optimum way of working and forget the hierarchical and closed nature that haunts most businesses today. We believe that coupling our philosophy with CluedIn and its ability to discover and bring knowledge to individuals fingertips will naturally show organisations that knowledge fuelled workers are happy and productive workers.

How do you differentiate your business from your competitors?

Obviously this is a problem that needs to be solved and hence we are not shy of competitors. Looking at the fundamental problem that CluedIn is solving, being "Information Silos", CluedIn has a fresh and unique approach on the solution. CluedIn is a no buy-in tool that only accesses the data in other systems, CluedIn itself does not host the data. We are not a place to upload documents, or place tasks in for managing a project — we are a place to discover the progress of that project for the entire workplace. All our competitors have taken the approach of "Let's just give them all the tools they need to do their job", however our experience show that this requires a lot of swaying power in a business to ask everyone to "move over to using this tool" when we all know that in six months a better tool will come out for solving that specific problem.

Another noteworthy differentiator is that CluedIn goes the step further to actually understand the information that sits cross-team, department, location or application. Once we understand the content, only then can we intelligently connect and enrich that information with other information to form knowledge. We take a really unique approach, hence the name, in that we treat all the information we are gathering as "dirty" or as "clues". Only a combination of "clues" combined with existing data and our intelligence engine form knowledge. It is only then that this is surfaced to employees in a way that fuels their work.

What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?

One year ago I would have said Google Hangouts (mainly for its ability to put pirate hats on during calls). However today, Slack stands out to me as a tool that has pivoted me fundamentally in the way I work. Since using Slack I have maybe sent around 15 work emails in total (including this one!) ) Of course, we have a Slack integration with CluedIn which in the morning allows me to easily see what CluedIn was talking about while I was asleep. It allows me to jump to the conversations that I need to be part of with a nice birds' eye view.

What's the best piece of business advice you've ever received?

Always be honest. Never mislead anyone to what your product actually does. Time is important for people and if your product does not solve a customer's problem, then don't tell them it does until it actually does.

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