In which sector is your company most closely aligned?
What does your company do?
Balto is the real-time guidance category leader, with over 170 million+ contact center conversations analyzed and optimized in real-time, and the highest-rated solution in our space on G2 with 4.8 stars. Balto’s artificial intelligence enables agents to make each phone conversation as effective as possible.
How long has your company had a presence in St. Louis?
What makes the St. Louis region an ideal home for your company/organization? Why do you choose to operate your business here?
The St. Louis region hosts a strong, growing tech industry with a large startup ecosystem. Balto wouldn’t be where it is today without the support of the city. Organizations like T-REX, a local startup incubator, is the space Balto first called home. LaunchCode, a local nonprofit offering free computer science education, helped us hire our original engineering team. And ArchGrants helped us get on our feet with access to grants and resources in the entrepreneurial community.
One of the St. Louis region’s biggest differentiators is its strong sense of community, making it easier for startups to get the support they need to succeed. We’ve benefitted from close relationships with other leaders in the area. Balto didn’t have to think twice about calling St. Louis home.
What has been the most valuable resource (person, tool, organization) for helping your company grow? How did you find it? How do you utilize it?
The Arch Grant we received in 2018 was invaluable to Balto’s rapid growth. “Very early on, Arch Grants believed in Balto and helped connect us with some of our most important relationships and resources. In fact, there are at least half a dozen companies I knew of beforehand who moved to St. Louis specifically because of Arch Grants, which has an incredible multiplier effect,” says Balto co-founder Chris Kontes.
Arch Grants aims to transform the St. Louis economy by identifying and investing in extraordinary ideas and entrepreneurs. They provide early-stage companies with $50,000 in equity-free grants, and a wide variety of resources to help them grow and scale, including coworking spaces, accelerators, access to a steady stream of talent, and connections to venture capital firms and angel investors.
What advice would you give new tech companies that are trying to navigate the current market?
Navigating the current market is a challenging but rewarding experience. Here are a few pieces of advice for new startups:
- Focus on solving a real problem. It’s harder than it sounds. This shouldn’t be just any problem, but one that represents a large enough opportunity to weather unfavorable market conditions. If people are still willing to pay to solve that problem, the venture will survive. For Balto, that problem starts with the challenge of scaling excellent conversations in a contact center.
- Build the right team for your stage of business: Start with a small team of talented people who can comfortably change hats depending on the needs of an early company. Then, narrow focus as you grow with people who are committed to the vision of the company. Develop a balanced routine of making your existing team more efficient before hiring the next team member.
- Stay focused, but flexible: The market is always evolving, and startups are in a uniquely strong position to adapt quickly because of their culture of scrappiness and openness to change. This is also a balancing act that requires a deep knowledge of the users you’re servicing as their needs continue to evolve and change.
What new practice or policy did you put into place over the pandemic that has positively impacted your company?
In recent years, our company has become up to 65% remote. Balto’s internal tech stack was purpose-built to facilitate close communication across a hybrid team: Slack, Zoom, Google Suite, Asana, and other tools help keep everyone on the same page as employees operate under different geographies and time zones.
Tell us about the next big thing in your technology sector. How will this affect your business?
Omnichannel options like chat bots, self-service help centers, social media direct messaging, and other channels have proliferated over the past few years, finding new and creative ways to meet customers where they are in order to solve their needs. People don’t want to call a company to find out its hours, or check on the status of their shipment, and they shouldn’t have to.
But while the low hanging fruit can and should be automated through these channels, people still want to talk to people: when something goes wrong, customers want to know a human is on the other end.
We talk quite a bit about omnichannel options internally and externally, but at the end of the day, research supports our decision to continue to bet on voice in the near term.
What is the accomplishment you are most proud to share from 2022?
The strides we’ve made within our product this year are remarkable. After raising our Series B and launching our Real-Time Coaching and Real-Time QA products in 2021, we hit the ground running on our roadmap in 2022 with a new suite of powerful features to really bulk up our offering. We launched Balto in Spanish in response to customer and prospect requests. We also shifted our focus towards improving the agent experience with a suite of customization and personalization offerings to ensure our software feels like an enablement and empowerment tool — not an enforcement tool. Our team launched embedded Balto to help us seamlessly integrate with customer workflows. Finally, we recently went live with a feature called Calls Explorer to uplevel our post call analytics, and Beacon to productize crowd-sourced best practices and help managers keep playbooks from going stale.
What exciting development is on the horizon for your company in 2023?
The growth of our partner programs is an exciting development on the horizon for 2023. We recently partnered with Five9, an industry-leading provider of cloud contact center solutions, to become available in their CX Marketplace. We’re working on relationships of this nature with other big names that we are very excited to be able to announce.
How can people learn more about your company or get involved in what you are doing?
By visiting our website and following us on our social media.
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