In this series, we look at local entrepreneurs with growth-stage companies who are finding success in a competitive global economy.
Bananatag is a Kelowna-based tech company that helps its clients track and measure email communications. Can you imagine being able to easily keep tabs on what happens to your emails after you press send?!
Bananatag works with over 70 of the Fortune 500 companies around the world and they are continually inventing new ways to evolve. Today they help internal communicators create emails using Outlook or Google Apps, with embed surveys so they can get feedback from their employees and really just communicate better with each other. “What we aren’t doing is trying to get people creating MORE email,” says Corey Wagner, CEO of Bananatag. “We actually want to encourage LESS email.” [Editor’s note: we are slow clapping over here!]
Corey believes that being able to read metrics and send more relevant emails is the answer to more effective communication—period. “I mean, if I think about the number of emails I get in a day, I probably don’t read half of them,” he admits. “Being able to track and measure so you can send emails to the right groups at the right frequency is just really important in terms of getting actual engagement.”
Corey was working in sales for his Dad's company and was looking for ways to get more transparency around the sales emails him and the rest of the team were sending. Were people getting the emails? Were they opening them? Reading them? Watching the videos? It is one thing to send 10,000 emails but what the team really wanted was a metric for one-to-one email engagement. Where were the leads? We built the Bananatag software to solve an existing problem in my Dad’s business. It was only after we experienced the effectiveness of the tool that we realized “Hey, this could be an actual business!”
“Being able to track and measure so you can send emails to the right groups at the right frequency is just really important in terms of getting actual engagement.”
After a lot of building and testing, Corey launched Bananatag in August of 2012 with two other co-founders.
Although they quickly found demand for their product, the real growth of Bananatag didn’t start until 2014 when they were able to quit their day jobs and start hiring people. After a lot of building and testing, Corey launched Bananatag in August of 2012 with two other co-founders. Although they quickly found demand for their product, the real growth of Bananatag didn’t start until 2014 when they were able to quit their day jobs and start hiring people. “Working with a mentor through Accelerate Okanagan was a great kick in the pants!” says Corey. “There were a lot of hard questions like, “Hey why aren’t you guys hiring people when you have revenue and you have money?”. Once we started hiring people we were able to really scale the business.”
Although Bananatag started out as a tool to help sales teams find and track their emails, it wasn’t long before Corey had clients asking for internal communications too. They quickly realized this sales tool they had created also worked really well for tracking internal communications giving companies metrics and insights around where employees are actually engaging.
This break into the internal communications side of things was a real game-changer for Bananatag on both a business and a personal level. “Not only were we supporting the sales teams within an organization, now we were helping leadership teams communicate with their employees and drive culture,” says Wagner. “These are things that spoke to us a lot more as founders and something that we could get really excited about”.
One of the first challenges the leadership team faced with the growth of their small startup was people. Although they were running a successful, small company and hitting all their numbers, Corey and the other two founders had not spent any time investing in culture. “I remember someone came into the office and was like “Hey, I just feel like a number around here,” Wagner recalls. “ It was a real wake-up call that we were now big enough that we needed to start building a culture”. For the Bananatag team, positivity, responsibility, and radical candour are core values the team is committed to living by.