BeRemote’s mission is to transform remote, professional work teams by enhancing engagement using an AI-based social-interaction platform that helps employees build and strengthen bonds within their organization. “Be a team that loves being a team,” is part of the company’s philosophy.
CEO Vivek Nigam, who earned his MBA from UConn in 2003, has 30 years of experience in IT and data strategy roles. He sold his first tech startup to AOL in 2000. Below he explains the company’s approach to team-building and how he hopes it will help transform the workplace.
Q: What was the impetus for your company?
I’ve worked for companies for most of my career and realized that on teams, people who are socially adept, tend to do better, and those who aren’t, tend to get left behind. I never felt that was right.
So, we decided to level the social playing field to give everyone more equal voice and visibility. But we quickly realized that there’s so much more we could do to help teams operate better, and decided to focus on the social interactions with the hope of helping professionals become more comfortable being present.
Q: How does the BeRemote platform work?
BeRemote and ReTeam (our product) is designed to help the team engage on a personal level without the need for a live meeting. The platform enables asynchronous communications and utilizes a video first approach. We have tools for better idea development, and, of course, to help quieter members to be more engaged. We have had some success already with more introverted people opening up on the platform. We believe we can help business teams, professional coaching and mentoring engagements, youth groups, and are starting to see benefits for home-care providers and recipients.
Q: Tell me about some of your philosophies about good team management. What do you encourage? And what do you discourage?
We believe in ‘servant leadership’ and super-leadership. You can read about some of these philosophies on our website. We want teams to take care of themselves and for leaders to enable the greatness of their teams and not be calling all of the moves, and extend that to the personal improvement journey that we want to encourage for everyone. Alicia Pekar on our team has some great thoughts on how the platform can enhance individual improvements through team supported activities that are the foundation of ReTeam.
Q: You say you want teams to govern themselves. Is that feasible?
We see this as a cultural trend as much as anything else. Managers are overloaded, especially with remote teams. People are taking more accountability and we think this is great. Teams should embrace a servant leadership philosophy so that every team member is empowered and enabled to contribute fully. We build ReTeam to help teams make themselves better.
Q: Do you see benefits for coaches and mentors?
ReTeam was initially designed for business teams. But in our customer-discovery process we found professional coaches have a need for similar tools. One coach we interviewed talked about “sending positive energy” to her clients to help them start their day or start a new endeavor. Using our video first and asynchronous approach has the benefit of being able to “see and feel” the emotion after a client had a difficult day and the coach needs to help.
Q: How does your platform help employees connect on a personal level with peers and coaches?
People who are in HR roles and other employee-engagement situations are tasked with improving engagement. When people aren’t engaged, they are not productive and, worse, they disengage or leave. We live in a high information and increasingly remote environment. So, this personal engagement need is at an all-time high.
We want to enable a personal level of engagement without having to stop everything to attend a meeting. I have team members who give status update on their way home from the office or after they have closed their laptops and are sitting on the couch, or walking on the trail for their morning walk. One person even talked about doing updates walking from meeting to meeting. It keeps it simple, personal, and efficient.
Q: What role has UConn played in the creation or growth of BeRemote?
UConn has been amazing. We partnered with Verge Consulting last summer and engaged some very talented MBA students who helped us define our customer base. Also, we participated in a customer discovery effort that helped us to better understand our customers. I didn’t realize before I started that UConn was so committed to helping small businesses get off the ground. It’s been pretty amazing.
Q: How do you predict the traditional workplace will change/evolve post-pandemic?
Remote work is here to stay. We can find talent everywhere and live wherever we can find an internet connection. There is so much power in this model. Individual businesses are growing and will continue. We want to enable entrepreneurship and personal life flexibility. Rahul Sinha, on our team, and also a UConn School of Business alum, wrote a great blog on our website about being remote. I personally enjoy this style of work and hope it is here to stay.
Q: What’s the next step in BeRemote’s growth?
We just had our fourth release of the ReTeam mobile app and will keep making it better. We are releasing the Web App so people can use this on their laptops and have a Microsoft Teams app so people using Teams can add ReTeam to their team engagement toolkit. We are looking to grow our customer base and probably looking for an investor who can partner with us to help us grow.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add about your business?
We are targeting several markets with an initial focus on business teams and still gaining feedback and validation. We are hoping ReTeam is valuable for professional coaches and mentors, business teams, youth groups and have started to see some benefits for home care providers. We are hoping people will try out the platform and provide feedback. Longer term, we are hoping to make a difference in how we engage in professional situations. We are still learning and hope to get as much input as we can.
To learn more about BeRemote, please visit the following web, entertainment and social media channels:
YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUbXS8usdacEOcvSUXhrpiA