SaaS Founder Interview with Andy Halko, Founder & CEO of Breakthrough
Tony Zayas 0:06
Hey everybody, welcome to the SaaS founder show. This is Tony Zayas your co-host, joined by Andy Halko, your co-host, and today also your featured guests. So Andy, welcome.
Andy Halko 0:21
Well, thanks, Tony. I appreciate it. I feel like I’ve been on the show before.
Tony Zayas 0:27
Yeah, deja vu, right?
Andy Halko 0:29
Tony Zayas 0:30
Oh, yeah. So today, I’m excited to talk about Breakthrough. So Andy is the founder of a new product that we’re actually putting out into the marketplace called Breakthrough that helps you work on spending time focusing on the business as opposed to working in the business. So any you want to give just a little recap, just overview of what Breakthrough is all about?
Andy Halko 0:57
Yeah, I mean. Really. At the end of the day, we’ll probably talk about this. But I’ve had this company for 20 years, almost now. And one of the most important things to me over the years has been, you know, working on the business and trying to think strategically about it. And for me, it was really about developing this methodology of, you know, how do I define the elements that are important things like our core values, so I can get the right people on the bus, mission and vision? You know, what are our goals for the organization? What are the personas that we’re targeting, for marketing and sales, all of these different key elements that were important to my business, and then utilizing that with clients and saying, we’ve got to define this right for you. But then the biggest piece was, how do I communicate and collaborate with my team around all these? It’s fantastic to sit in an office or a conference room with a leadership team. And, you know, when we would create, you know, presentations, but it was so flat and the experience of sharing this strategic plan with the team and evangelizing it, and getting collaboration from it. It was such a challenge. And so we have over the years built this platform Breakthrough that, you know, streamlines and simplifies and brings the digital nature of collaboration to strategic planning. And so this, this tool is something that not only is born from the need, and pains and approaches that I’ve had over the years as an owner, but also the ones that I’ve then helped hundreds of businesses solve for themselves over the years. And so really, it’s the combination of bringing all that together into something that we can really, in my mind, help democratize strategic planning, make it simple and accessible for any business to do.
Tony Zayas 3:18
Yeah, and so I would love to go back. And if you can tell the story, just for people who have maybe tuned in just thought you were the host. That’s all he did. He was just a full time host to the show here. Tell us a little bit about your journey, you know, building Insivia, and I think that’s where, as I know, you learned a lot of the need. The reason you’re launching Breakthrough is because that whole strategic planning and collaboration tool, a platform for that doesn’t seem to exist out there. It’s so that was kind of where this was born. But let’s go back and tell the story of your.
Andy Halko 4:03
Yeah, I’ll talk a little bit about origin story, you know, as we always, you know, experience on the show. I was 22 I started the business, right when I graduated college, and it’s one of those things that I was lucky enough that my dad was an entrepreneur. And so I had been around someone that had started a business and, and been inspired by that, you know, most of my life. And then you know, the other piece was that I really, you know, outside of getting a marketing degree in college. I spent a lot of time teaching myself to program and design through side work during college just trying to, you know, teach myself all these different technologies and it was something that I was able to pick up and so, you know, when it came time that I graduated, I said look, I have an opportunity that I’ve got these skills. I’ve been in this world of entrepreneurship for years in, in some way or another just seeing it. And so now’s the opportunity to start something. And I really wanted to take those skills that I had honed, and, you know, take them to the world on my own. And so, you know, I started the company, and it’s been an amazing transition over the years, these 19 years. And the key is back to that strategy is we’ve grown and scaled because of our focus on what makes us unique. Why do people want to do business with us? How do we compete against other people in the market, I have taken and spent a lot of time, you know, really looking at that. And the reason is, is because we look at it for our clients as well. And when I started the business, it was a lot about the transactional nature of building websites and designing pieces, and, you know, executing marketing. But over the years, what we ended up finding is the real struggle that customers had was on the strategic side, you come in to build a website. But what the challenge was, is they didn’t really understand who their you know, best opportunities were, as target audiences, or how they could articulate what then made them unique in the marketplace. All of these different pieces were missing when we tried to execute. And so our firm really transitioned and evolved into a consultancy, where it was much more about starting there with customers, how do you determine a go to market strategy to be extremely competitive in the marketplace. And then once you’ve done that, and you have all these pieces defined, and you build a huge, you know, smart Foundation, now we can actually execute. And really Breakthrough our product is about taking that upfront process, which typically requires consultants and bringing people in or going to three day planning sessions. And it really does simplify it down into a cloud based platform that makes it step by step helps you the whole way through, and then adds in, like I was talking about earlier, this whole other level of communication and collaboration with various stakeholders in the team.
Tony Zayas 7:44
Okay, that’s great. Um, so I do have a couple of questions on some of the things you just touched on. But I would like to ask, you know, when did you get the idea of to build this as a, as software? You’ve been, you know, at this for a long time. You’ve been doing the consulting and strategic planning, and you have a very well, you know, detailed plan and process for how you go through the steps of defining, you know, everything from market positioning, brands, all of that. How did you come up with the idea to take what you do, and turn it into this platform?
Andy Halko 8:28
Well, the reality is, you know, one of the things that I think as being an entrepreneur and a founder. I am constantly looking at, you know, how do you do things differently or better? And that’s not just for our own business, but for all the clients that we’ve worked with is, you know, how do you take something that’s being done x way now and look at doing it differently, and I’ve been passionate about software, you know, my, my entire life and career, and I really enjoy it back to the days where I taught myself the program, you know, and so I always tend to look at things through the lens of how do you take something that isn’t being done in a platform and hasn’t been presented in a way that’s, you know, scalable, collaborative, all the things that software brings us? How do we take things and make sure that we put them in that mode. And so, you know, transparently over the years, we have tried to build other products, we built a tool called plan board. That was a marketing calendar system. We built persona board, which focused on, you know, just personas and those had some levels of success. And really, what ended up happening for me, I think, is the mixture of the pains that I had as a consultant of you know, how do I take these exercises and processes that create strategic planning, and make them very simplified? The challenge of how do I communicate it 10 years ago, we would design these huge, you know, three by five foot posters that talked about all the strategic initiatives for the company. And we would put them on the walls, and we would do all these other things. And then we had these tools that were a little more on the transactional side, you know, marketing calendar, you know, just persona documentation. And it was really trying to bring all these things together. And for me getting a little bit over that hump of most people think of strategic consulting as something that they need, or strategy and planning as something that they need to bring somebody in to do. And I don’t believe that I think there’s an opportunity to simplify and scale it. And so it was really bringing all of those different pieces together of the pains and challenges. We were facing ourselves and with clients, you know, some of the tools that we have built previously, and then making this leap and saying, okay, something that is required a lot of thought and requires, you know, typically people, there is a way to merge these things and create a platform, using exercises, using different, you know, methodologies to actually make it accessible and democratized for everybody.
Tony Zayas 11:43
What would you say? We’re your big takeaways, things that you learned in the other products that you launched? With plan board, persona board, that helped influence kind of the way you decided to approach Breakthrough?
Andy Halko 12:01
Yeah, I think that’s a great question. You know, for me, I have come to the point where, you know, we do look at competitors, you know, in our own process, let’s just bring it out there is that when we look at opportunities, we talk about what’s the, you know, market opportunity of how much, how much opportunity there is the demand, the competitiveness, you know, all of these different factors. And for me, it was in these transactional tools, understanding and knowing that they’re very crowded markets that you can go in and, and there are a lot of tools out there, to execute to do things. The one thing that I think is missing in the marketplace, not only from a standpoint of a tool that can help people solve problems, but also missing from a standpoint of, it’s a common pain, that is not easy to solve. And that is strategic thinking and strategic planning. It’s something that every business struggles with, it’s something that is not always easy to solve. And there are not a lot of tools out there that really trying to solve that problem, because most of them are focused much more than that executional nature. And so, you know, as we developed a plan, board and persona board, which were more execution tools. I think we saw that, you know, there’s great opportunity that but there’s a lot of options for people out there to be able to do that. And what was missing was still that strategically piece, because you couldn’t use our tools. You couldn’t use persona board and Plan board until you got the strategic piece done. And there was still a gap there for how do you do that in a way that’s easier and scalable and simplified?
Tony Zayas 14:07
So, it’s really interesting. Um, for those that may not be familiar with I think I’m breaking up here a little bit. Can you hear me? Okay, um, you know, a few years back, Insivia published the white paper, the vision gap. And that’s a topic that we don’t we’ve talked about, you know, different shows and what not. For me, the way I see Breakthrough as a platform as something to help solve that challenge. So if you might, talking about the concept of the vision gap and what you you know, how you put that out to the world as far in that white paper?
Andy Halko 14:48
Yeah, it’s really a definition of what I’ve just talked about is that, you know, the vision gap is this idea that leaders and leadership teams are constantly focused on the vision and where the company’s going. I know myself, I know my other friends that are entrepreneurs, they’re thinking about in the shower, they’re driving their car, and they’re thinking about growth, or what’s their strategy? Or how do we improve this? You know, it’s a constant thought process of how do I envision our future? And how do we solve the challenges that we’re facing.
But the challenge is, is that you’ve got these audiences out there, you have your employees in the, in the company, you have prospects that you want to reach and talk to you have customers that you’re working with. And the challenge is, is how do you not just define that vision, but really communicate it and articulate it to bridge that gap. And as an example, you know, how is a strategic vision delivered to the employees on a team, you know, typically, it’s in a random conference room, and someone happens to bring up a piece of information, a big company meeting where you’ve only got 30 minutes to talk, a poster that you throw on the wall. And the reality is, is that if you want to get your employees aligned, you want them all to be headed in the same direction. At that point on the horizon, you want people to understand how customers think, all of these different pieces that are going to be successful, you have to bridge that gap between this visionary that’s constantly thinking and has all sorts of nuance around their strategy, and the employees who just get the MC nuggets of strategy, and are expected to still be aligned and efficient and driven towards the vision. And so that gap there is where the real challenge is. And I think that organizations fail. Because if you have an a vision gap with employees, people aren’t aligned, you don’t have the right people on the bus. You know, different folks are working towards different goals and points in the horizon, which sometimes then creates conflict in the company. Because, you know, as an example, that I’ve seen in the past, your development team that’s building a product, and your sales team have completely different visions of what the company looks like in three years. And that is very difficult to become successful, because you have a product team almost working against the sales team that never catch up. And the same gap exists with prospects and customers with prospects, if you can’t articulate why you’re different and why people should do business with you, and how you structure your offerings. There’s a gap between that vision of how you see your business, and how you see why it matters, and prospects. And then same thing with customers along the lines of, you know, customer experience, operations, all of these other pieces. And so the vision gap is really that idea is that a leadership team or visionary in a company. They have so much nuance and vision and all these things that can make an organization so much more successful. But then there’s this huge gap between that, and the employees and prospects and customers really being evangelized into it, to help the organization grow and scale. And Breakthrough is really, like you said, a solution to bridging that vision gap. It is really a way to solve that challenge. And for me, if you can solve that challenge, I do think it is transformational across the organization, because then when you have those employees aligned, everybody understands the strategy, what makes us different, and I’m talking about everyone in the organization, doesn’t matter if it’s the person that picks up the phones, or leads your HR department, everybody should be aligned and understand where the company is going. And then they once they are aligned and they have that, you know, definition and articulation, they can then transition that into marketing and sales, customer service, and all of these areas that then bring prospects and customers across that gap as well. And when we can do that, and we can bring everybody together that vision is really encompassing our employees, prospects, customers, stakeholders. That’s when I think companies really start seeing success happen.
Tony Zayas 20:06
I’m curious to hear your take on culture, culture, and how do you build a culture, you know, by design. And I know that’s an element of Breakthrough sounded love to hear more about how your experiences have led into how you’ve built that into the platform.
Andy Halko 20:26
Yeah, I think culture is hard. You know, you know, I always say, in interviews and, and other things that culture is one of those words like, to me quality, it has many different meanings to people, you know, quality may mean, the craftsmanship, or the look and feel, or the experience that you get. And so when you use the word quality, in marketing and other things, it can be ambiguous, and culture to me is the same thing is that for some people, that means the time off, or the things that are in the company, the other is the feel of the people around them. Culture can for other people be the vision and the aspiration for the future. And so for me, it’s really about there are key defined elements of culture that help you get a number of those things, right. And if you can get them right, you get the right people on the bus, you do deliver that aspirational nature that excites people, and and you do deliver the other pieces. And so, for me, it’s really core values, which I, I’ll come back to, because I think they’re so important. Mission and vision. Vision is about what are you trying to accomplish in the future? And where are you going? I really believe that it needs to be something accomplishable. And when you can accomplish it, then you create a new vision. Mission is how do we deliver on that vision every day? What do we do? How do we act to deliver on that vision? Big, hairy, audacious goals? You know, what are those goals that are aspirational, that get everybody excited, and other elements, but the key one is, for me is core values. We talk about this a lot. And I think this is where companies struggle is, you know, a lot of companies just want to create core values as a, you know, surface level exercise or something that is more for show than it is for really actionable use here in Insivia. And when I recommended the clients, we use core values to evaluate potential employees and current employees to understand how do they fit the organization. And I’m such a huge believer that if you can get people on that really embody the core values of a company, that is one of the keys to getting everybody aligned, because you have the right people that think the right way that are all driven towards the right things. And so if you get those core values wrong, or you’re using them just as vanity values, you’re not really creating that environment where you have the right people, and you’re getting everybody aligned. And that’s one of the challenges that I’ve seen working with hundreds of these companies is we go back and we look at these key elements, the core values, vision, vision and mission and their vanity pieces. We put a community service as one of our values, but not a single person or organization has donated any of their time in the last year. That’s a vanity core value. And so what you’re saying the world. The world is, we want you to come and work with us or work for us. And community service is important to you. But then when you get here, when that’s not really something we care about, we’re here for other things. And so I think there’s a process and that’s where I have developed exercises over the years that figure this out. There is a process to get to the core of what your values are as a company, and then define those extremely well articulate them so people can really understand and embody them. And then obviously making sure that you use them every day throughout the organization. And so for me culture is a huge piece. And until you get it right, you’re gonna struggle with a lot of those pains. Again, turnover, lack of alignment, you know, folks that maybe aren’t as excited to come into work as they should be. But then when we define those pieces, I think you can make that transit and transformational shift to a much more aligned, excited, inspired and driven culture.
Tony Zayas 25:16
Yeah, and I’ll just elaborate on the fact that, you know, as you know, that Andy, but those core values really resonated with me. And that’s one of the reasons I made the decision. Yeah. And several was the place that I want it to be, is because they felt authentic and legitimate. And they match my values. And I’ve, I’ve experienced those type of places that have the vanity, you know, mission statement or values. And, you know, I see that it feels almost like someone who sets up a dating profile and puts a bunch of lies, it’s like, well, at some point, they’re going to meet you. And at some point, they’re going to see that that’s not true. How do you get a good fit, if people don’t know really know, what your company is all about? What your aspirations are, so on and so forth. And I think it’s fantastic that this tool, you know, offers the ability for people to help define and then articulate a lot of those cultural elements. So really cool stuff. And I just wanted to share that.
Andy Halko 26:21
Yeah, I think most people see that stuff as not extremely strategic, but I do, you know, I see core values as not an exercise that you bring marketing folks in to do. It’s an exercise that needs to be done on a strategic level of where do you want your company to go? What do you want it to look like? Who are the people that you want, as part of the organization? What type of customers do you want to, you know, tract. And so if you don’t think of it strategically like that, again, core values, vision, mission, to me, those are the foundations, everything else builds up and upon off of that. So when you don’t get that, right, you’ve got a shaky foundation. So I really think that companies that overlook it, or think that it’s just something for vanity, are missing an opportunity to set a foundation for success.
Tony Zayas 27:26
I had a interview with the founder of an AI company yesterday for our tech founders show, and really fascinating conversation. And one of the things that he shared was he talked about going to secure funding, he said, you know, any company, any startup can put out an aspiration and put a theory of, here’s what we plan on doing. But ultimately, people are going to invest in the people behind that idea. And so your point on core values, and all those things to attract the right fit for employees, and that culture that, you know, is basically foundational to having those right people, whether it’s to secure the funding or take your company to where you need it to be. But I love that perspective, you share on that, because it’s a breath of fresh air. And I think it’s important for business leaders to be looking at that piece of their business, like you said, from a strategic standpoint, they truly want to make changes and get to where they want to grow to.
Andy Halko 28:32
Just add one other thing with culture, you know, I’m a believer over the years of having a business for a long time that there really is right fit. There are folks that in other organizations struggle, and then they come to yours, and they’re all stars, and vice versa, that you can have someone within your organization that you look at, and you say, look, this is not working out for whatever reason, and and you can come up with a bunch of different reasons that someone might not be a fit. But the reality is, is that they may go somewhere else, and be an all star. And I think that’s where fit can really come in and where core values and alignment and inspiration for the vision in the future, that when you have that, right, you know, one you’re making sure you get the right people on but those right people are then inspired to really be their best. And I really think there’s something to that, that people don’t realize is that you really have to get that cultural fit to have successful folks and you know, someone that’s not successful with your organization, they may go somewhere else and be more inspired by their vision might match more with the other employees because the core values are better set. And so why do you want to make the mistake of potentially bringing someone on, that does not resonate, that isn’t inspired? If you’re just putting vanity stuff out there, and really faking them out? The likelihood of you bringing on false start employees, when you take that approach is much higher.
Tony Zayas 30:25
Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. It’s fantastic. Um, I would love to hear more about how Breakthrough supports the whole developing a unique brand market position, you know, target audiences, all that kind of stuff, just a little bit of your approach that, you know, works its way through the platform.
Andy Halko 30:50
Yeah, and I, again, I think these things, the reason that the platform was built the way it is, because it’s progressive, and these things build upon each other. You know, we just talked about culture and setting that, you know, core foundation. Who are the people we want here? How are we inspiring them? You know, what’s our vision for the future? But then we build on that with our market positioning. And that’s really about what makes us truly unique.
How do we articulate the people? How we’re unique and why they want to do business with us? Who are our best target audiences? Who are, you know, what, what does it mean for those different people to resonate with some of these factors. Because the biggest challenge that I see in organizations, again, you go in, and you ask them, what makes them different, or who they target. And when you ask who they target, it’s pretty much everybody. And it’s hard to do that, because there’s an organization, you know, the time and the resources to try and market or sell everyone is hard. It also dilutes your messaging so that when you’re talking to marketing or sales folks, and helping them be more effective in their jobs, they’re sitting there, and they’re having to think about the the pains, the challenges, the trends, the buying factors for all of these different audiences. And their message becomes diluted in marketing and sales, and so they’re less effective. And then when it comes to articulating what makes you unique in the marketplace, companies have this sense that, you know, they kind of really go towards the same thing that all their competitors have, you know, quality, speed, customer service. And the reality is that if you walk into a prospects office, and tell them about your company, when you say quality, and customer service, and security or whatever these different factors are, your next five competitors are saying probably the same thing. And so for me, it’s really about this process and exercise of breaking that down. Again, moving away from the vanity idea of it, quality is vanity customer services, vanity to the strategic side of it, you know, what is it about quality, we talked about hand craftsmanship. We talk, you know, we can talk about quality has to do with the level of the people and the number of times that they come in and quality assure something, you know, and now we’re talking about something different. And that’s a piece that we can turn into being really unique is that the caliber of our quality assurance, and then backing that up with saying, you know, we hire only certified people, we’ve developed a three step quality assurance process. And, you know, we come in three months later and do a post evaluation. Now, you’re walking in the room and saying we’ve got this high caliber quality assurance process to ensure that you’ve got the best and then the rest of your five people are saying, you know, we’ve got quality products. And so how you define what makes you unique and how you articulate it is a game changer. It’s a game changer for marketing and sales. And so then when you combine narrowing down your target audience, so that you can really focus on the best possible customers and you can really narrow down their pains and needs and challenges. And then you can match that with true differentiators. Things that really make you more unique than the competition and you’re able to articulate those better. Talk about effective marketing and sales. And so, you know, again, building upon all of this, there are ways to strategically think about these things. When we talk about target audiences, we often measure what is the market opportunity for that audience? And so if you look at you target manufacturing, retail, all of these other different groups, what’s the market opportunity? What’s their level of demand for your services? How hungry are they for it? How much competition and alternatives are out there to your services for that market? You know, what’s your level of experience?
You know, how long how many customers, what’s your level of specialization, how customized and unique are your offerings to that target market, and you can score those, and you can say, well, market opportunities, one to 10, you know, specialization, one to 10, these different things, and you can then make the cream of the crop in target audiences rise to the top so that you can find those two or three audiences that are going to be your absolute best opportunity for growth. And so that’s where a platform like Breakthrough comes in, is that it helps you through this process of figuring that out. And so someone that’s there, and currently is sitting back and struggling, because they’re trying to talk to everybody, and they’re using vanity value proposition is to define their differentiation, they can actually go in and use some methodologies to become more strategic about it, then get to the real heart of what is going to be valuable for their organization to grow, and then be able to communicate and collaborate with their team about that information so that they’re not just defining it. But they’re evangelizing and in their marketing and sales folks, that can then be significantly more effective.
Tony Zayas 37:24
It’s great. I would love for you to share a little bit talk about the approach as far as you know, we often ask founders that they bootstrapped, did they raise funds? Well, I would love for you to share with everybody that’s watching how you have taken our break through and and I think what’s what’s interesting about it is that it’s not like there’s been a law and insivia business, we’re growing fast, fast, you know, and we’re all over the globe at this point. And you decided to throw the development and launch of Breakthrough in the mix. Explain a little bit about how you’ve done that and how you’ve used internal resources, because I think it’s pretty interesting. And so far, you know, I think things are feeling pretty good.
Andy Halko 38:15
Yeah, that’s a great question. And, you know, we do we ask founders all the time about raising capital and bootstrapping, you know, and we always hear their answer. So here’s mine. I am a big fan of bootstrapping, and then raising capital when you have traction. And there’s a number of different reasons that I believe in that. But the biggest one is probably the fact that, you know, from a valuation standpoint, that as an owner, you’ve got something that’s got some value, and then you’re not giving all that away too early. You know, momentum, when is the right time for capital to come? I think that market validation, and some initial traction with revenue is the right time to look at funding. And so I am a fan of the idea of, you know, you try as hard as you can to bootstrap, and hold off on capital until it’s, you know, necessary to meet in ends to grow or meet an end to grow. And so we have bootstrapped. And like you said, we’ve been very busy. But the other thing that I’ve, I’ve learned over the years, not only from working with hundreds of software, businesses and other businesses, but trying to create my own products is it is hard to spin out a business from an existing one. And there’s a lot of different reasons why, you know, for our company, and when we’ve tried to create products in the past, you know, someone is off working on the product, but then something comes up in the main business, and it’s held off for a month or two and so you really can’t get the traction. And when you’re stopping and starting, you just the momentum never gets there that you really start getting over those humps. And so you hear a lot of times when you talk in entrepreneurial circles of companies trying to spin out businesses, that unless you’re a much larger organization, and you can dedicate resources, it is very hard to do it with your existing resources. And so we decided, based on the success of insignia and the fact that you know, that business has grown, and we had capital, and resources and these other things, but also the strength of the concept, our clients, we’ve now seen hundreds of people that are hungry for the need to define and articulate and communicate and collaborate around this strategic vision, you know, we were able to validate the market, through our own business by understanding that there is a real pain out there. And there is not a great solution that makes it easier and more scalable. And so those different factors came together that we decided to hire a dedicated development team in house, we hired folks onto our team to come in and spend full time focused on this product. And that really has given us momentum like we’ve never had before, and spinning out a product to really have something that is well built, based off of the market validation that we’ve gotten over the years to understand what is really needed by our target customers. And so, you know, it was a great combination that allowed us to dedicated that dedicated people and time to really build something that’s truly fantastic, and solves a real problem that many organizations need to be focusing on.
Tony Zayas 42:11
It’s great. So, where is the product at right now, if you want to share with everybody, because we’re right in the middle of something, as we’re doing this, this show, which is pretty exciting, you want to share with, you know, where we’re at, as far as users go?
Andy Halko 42:29
Yeah, we just, you know, we launched the Beta a little bit ago, and have been bringing on various users really utilizing the product with our own customers. And now, really, truly launched out to the marketplace, for folks to come on, sign up, get started on their own and utilize the patent platform. And we often ask about models. It’s a freemium model. So it starts out that you can use the tool, we wanted to democratize this, give people the power to do something better and improve their organization, no cost. But then obviously, that as you want to expand that with your team, and you’re a growing organization that wants to bring more people in to help with strategic planning, or more people in for collaboration, and communication of your strategic plan, then we’ve got packages that allow you to scale your organization with the product. And so we’ve got a, you know, fantastic tool out there at Breakthrough os.com. And it’s something that people can get signed up today and start using. And, you know, I’m sure we’ll talk about it a little bit. But we’ve got also a fantastic roadmap for how this product that’s currently out there in the market being used is going to continue to evolve. And really, in my mind, I think game change the way strategic consulting and strategic planning is done. All over the world.
Tony Zayas 44:13
You must have had a sneak peek into my notes, because that was my next question was about roadmap before we go there. I’ve watched the show before. There you go. Question about you know, the whole idea of democratizing strategic planning, any concern that you’re building a product that actually could put your consultancy out of business?
Andy Halko 44:38
Yeah. 100% I think that’s the intention. You know, and I think the goal is, is that we do something right now that has limits on scale limits because of you know, cost and all of these different things and creating this product is the concept of how do we reduce those limits and in in creating this product, that we can do it at scale, that we can do it in a cost effective manner, that we can help organizations really rethink their strategy, do it in a way that’s extremely logical and built on smart methodologies. That helps them take it beyond the consulting and again, collaborate and communicate around it. And really, not only should it replace what we’re doing, but actually replace what we’re doing, reach more people, but actually do it better, in some ways. Because we can bring the power of the web of being able to bring people together of presenting information in real time of capturing data of integrating other systems. And so we can do that with a topic that typically hasn’t had that power of strategic planning. In strategic planning. You know, it is usually pretty transactional and one dimensional, now that we’re doing it as a software, we really have the capability of just blowing it out of the water in the way that we deliver it and the way we help customers do it and how they can integrate. And, and that’s why I think it’s such a big game changer is that right now, I think the strategy is very two dimensional. And we are really adding a whole third and fourth dimension to it, to make it more impactful for organizations.
Tony Zayas 46:49
When you would you agree with me that part of that adding dimension is that it connects the dots of these pieces. I think when people think about culture, it’s kind of one thing when they think about brand, that’s very much you know, this thing that resides over here, and others marketing marketing brand might have some, you know, play with one another be don’t really think of that connected to culture. And I think when you go through the process, going through what Breakthrough allows you to do and see and have all of that stuff in one place, you start to understand how those things come together. Do you think that’s part of what makes this that kind of, you know, a new adds an additional dimension to the whole landscape?
Andy Halko 47:37
Yeah, I think when I talk about, you know, collaboration, part of that, for me is breaking down silos. And I really think that that’s part of what this platform is, is meant to do is break that down is that marketing is not just the ones focus on personas and target audiences. You know, HR is not focused on core values, leadership on vision, customer service, all of these different pieces that end up being part of our strategy, you know, that it’s something accessible by anybody, but then that you can change the paradigm of how information is shared with people that doesn’t have to be purely by silos. And one of the key features of our platform is called Boards. And what that is, is that we can take any information across the platform. So if you’ve got your core values, vision, mission, big, hairy, audacious goals, you know, your target audience is your value propositions, elevator pitch, you know, logos on down the line, all of this strategic information, you can create customized boards, where the marketing team as a board, that they can see the core values, the vision, the value propositions, and the personas. And then an onboarding board, where you can have core values and these pieces. And you can create unlimited boards for different uses. And you’re creating new, new groups that are flexible, that can bring anyone from any different part of the company in to collaborate and talk around that part of the strategic plan in their own area. But then it’s still all centralized information. And so it’s the same vision that’s going out to all of these different groups, that they’re all collaborating and discussing around. But it’s in one place so that if it changes, everybody across the organization is informed. And so this whole concept that we build that is really one of these dimension changing things, is this idea of defining and articulating and building your strategy that is a little bit separated from how you communicate, and collaborate with it. So that you can do that in very flexible ways that are still connected, but then allow people to have these, you know, really dynamic conversations around parts of the business. And so that dynamic that we built into this makes the platform so much powerful, more powerful for organizations.
Tony Zayas 50:29
Yeah, definitely. Go ahead. And why don’t you share with us through plans? What’s, you know, what is on that roadmap? I know, there’s a lot of exciting things, we have to get the data out first. So what are the things that you have in mind?
Andy Halko 50:45
Yeah, I mean, a couple things. One, we do have a future of some AI that’s coming in, that, you know, as you’re putting in information that it’s prompting you to be bringing in more data and information, and it’s prompting you along the way. But then as you’re putting things in, that we’ve got, you know, these really dynamic rule sets, and, you know, uh, valuations based off of data that we have in third party systems, that will actually give you recommendations. So truly bringing some of that human element to the process through artificial intelligence. And that’s actually combined with a coaching tool is that we are bringing real humans in not only to give more power to our customers, and let them dial someone up to get some help, but then also train our AI to be smarter. So that, again, we can more greatly democratize this process of strategic planning, which is the goal. And then we’ve got some other, you know, outside of that cool features that are going to make it more flexible, scalable, and collaborative. So that truly organizations can go in and create very strategic definitions of their vision and pieces of how they’re gonna grow their business, they can truly evolve those and articulate them, and then communicate and collaborate with people in really exciting ways to get everybody in the organization aligned on the bus driven towards the right place and being as effective and efficient as possible. And so I really do think not only the tool we have now, but the roadmap that we have, is just going to, you know, not only democratize strategic planning, but really take what it is to a whole different level.
Tony Zayas 53:02
It’s awesome, super exciting. So I think we will wrap up with our typical last question of the show, and that is the question if you can go back in time, to the beginning. And I don’t know if you want to say the beginning of you know, your initial…
Andy Halko 53:21
Saying when I was 21?
Tony Zayas 53:22
Yeah. Yeah, I guess I guess I’m gonna ask you for two then. So what if you can go back to to your 21 year old self, and give yourself piece of advice over a cup of coffee, even though you don’t drink coffee? There’s that, and then also just the starting of Breakthrough in the initial, you know, decision to take this to market? What are the two pieces of advice you’d give your, your former self?
Andy Halko 53:54
You’d think that I would have been more prepared, given that I asked, you know, and, and had some profound statements ready to go. And that’s really what it’s about is, you know, what have you learned along the way that you wish you knew a little bit earlier? I think for me, when I was really early on in the business, understanding people and connections better, you know, at 21 when you’re in college and 22, when you’re coming out of college, I think that that is a concept that you really have to learn is that, you know, people drive the world. It’s about your employees, it’s about your customers. It’s about, you know, the people that are around you and understanding them and being able to adapt and communicate and all of these things that are just so important to every day. For me, it wasn’t just, I think understanding people generally have, like, you know, how do you get the most out of your relationships? How do you leverage people, like mentors? And how do you all these different things that are so you know, emotional quoting, as much as you know, more than intellectual quoting. Really knowing that upfront and focusing a lot of time on growing my skills, and knowledge and understanding around people, and my connections with people. I wish that in my early days that I had more awareness of the importance of that, and took the time to really think about it. Again, I think, you know, everything comes down to that people and the interaction and the way you connect and the way that you work together. And if you can learn that earlier on, I, you know, it gives you so much power. And it took me years to get there. And then as far as a Breakthrough, you know, we are in early stages, but I’ll take it from a product perspective, just in general is that, you know, dedicating and focusing, you know, there is something to really having a smart plan for what you’re trying to accomplish, really understand the pain, and then getting that validated in the market, but really dedicating the time and people to it, so that it can be successful. You never want it to be that thing in the corner that you only play with every once in a while, it’s never going to grow up and be, you know, successful and responsible if you don’t give it the love and care that it needs. And so, you know, those would be two things that come to mind. You know, after doing this 20 years, I probably have about 15 different learning lessons that I would have loved to learn a little bit earlier. But those are two that come to mind pretty quickly.
Tony Zayas 57:21
Those are great. And I’ll say this is our, I believe this is our 30th show. Those are brand new, those that are not ones that have been shared before. So, so, even though you haven’t thought them through and they haven’t ready to go was a good one. So awesome. Well, tell tell everyone who’s watching and listening where they can go once again, to sign up, get a free account, try break throughout, you know, kick the tires, and let us know their thoughts.
Andy Halko 57:53
Yeah, I mean, of course, we’re on all the social channels, so you can find Breakthrough tribe Breakthrough on Twitter and Instagram. We’re on LinkedIn. So check us out there 100% always connect with me on LinkedIn, reach out, I love you know, to connect with folks, I just talked about people and connections. Again, the more folks that I can build as part of my network, the more I learn, and the more I can impact other people. So please connect with me, and then go check out Breakthroughos.com and, and sign up for the free trial. At the very least, you know, probably learned some things by seeing some of the methodologies and approaches and ideas and you know, have the ability to improve the organization at no cost. And then as it becomes something that’s that’s better for you, we hope that you become a customer and we can help you scale in a way that you never thought possible before.
Tony Zayas 58:59
And Andy your your handle over at TikTok?
Andy Halko 59:03
Uh, you know, Camelot is a silly place is my handle over there.
Tony Zayas 59:10
So go now arrival. Very cool. I appreciate the time here and appreciate everyone tuning in to hear Andy’s story to learn about Breakthrough. We will back be back next time with another brand new SaaS founder. So thank you guys for joining in. Andy, thanks for your time.
Andy Halko 59:29
Thank you, Tony. Thank you, everybody. See you next week. Bye
Transcribed by https://otter.ai