Kipsu, a native Minnesota technology company, hit the ground running in 2018 by making its 50th full-time hire. Guided by former venture capitalist Christopher Smith, Kipsu is pioneering an emerging software category called Real Time Engagement, or "RTE," which leverages texting and digital messaging to connect leading service organizations with their customers.
The start-up traces its roots back seven years when it started as a small "bootstrap" project for Smith and his co-founders, but the company’s growth has accelerated in the past two years, tripling in size since 2016.
Unlike many start-ups, Kipsu shied away from a dependency on VC funding. Although the company took on a limited investment of funds, the company was primarily bootstrapped from the ground up. “I spent ten years of my career as a growth stage venture capitalist working with a well regarded investment fund,” says Smith. “I have a decent network in the venture business, and understand exactly how to raise venture dollars. Oddly, I chose not to.” Kipsu’s unique approach has allowed the company to develop the team (and therefore the culture) in a highly methodical way.
Smith adds, "We have a long term vision for our company. We want to preserve our options to stay independent and supporting our customer partners and Kipsu team members for a long time to come."
The “sweat equity” has finally paid off. Kipsu has signed impressive local customer partners (like the Mall of America and Metro Transit) as well as over 1,500 partners around the globe. To support their growing customer base, Kipsu has doubled down on hiring. VP of Talent Victoria Schanen (previously of Leadpages) emphasizes the companies focus on adding new “Kipsuvians” quickly, without compromising quality.
“We’re looking to add talent to every corner of our team, but Kipsu is an exclusive place to work and we don’t plan to change that anytime soon,” she notes.
Schanen explains that the growing company’s hiring process can sometimes be grueling, especially with a lean team to conduct interviews and handle candidate feedback. Even with limited resources, Kipsu requires candidates go through up to 5 interviews and talk with members of multiple teams.
“We’ve built a great culture and truly earned our employees’ loyalty and happiness. It’s how we differentiate ourselves in a relentlessly competitive job market. If we want to be smart about engagement, we’ll continue to hold the hiring bar sky-high.” Schanen comments.
Now that Kipsu has locked in lucky number 50, the team is looking toward 60, 70, and beyond. With multiple positions still listed, 2018 is looking like another year of impressive growth for Kipsu and it’s motivated team of Kipsuvians.