In honor of Align’s 10th Anniversary, we are dedicating the year 2022 to celebrate how far we’ve come, how we’ve gotten to where we are today, and most importantly, the people who got us here.
It all started with a plane ride in 2012 when a revolutionary idea arose during a conversation between two innovators that changed how businesses track their company metrics moving forward. Amith Nagarajan and Andy Bailey were traveling home from India after successfully launching Rockefeller Habits at Amith’s office there. On the way home, they discussed a challenge regarding how companies keep track of priorities and the alignment of team members.
Both realized that with small or large teams, it’s essential to keep everyone focused on tasks simultaneously, and there was no known software back then to do this effectively. At the time, Amith and Andy instructed teams to track priorities in Excel, which worked but had challenges. There was no way to see how an entire distributed team was aligned with those organizational priorities. In addition, collaborating across the team wasn’t enabled by the software.
They looked into the market to find a possible solution but couldn’t find anything. Being serial entrepreneurs, Andy and Amith decided while still flying home that they would start a company. They just need a technical co-founder to jump in and build the software. That’s when Joshua Grippo joined the effort, and just like that, Align was born.
As Align has grown over the past ten years, it has transformed how leaders run their businesses and implement strategic planning and goal-setting practices. To celebrate this special milestone, we have come up with 10 Things for 10 Years that we are Proud of at Align.
We have interviewed our founders, CEO, and some of our longest-working employees to share our story and all the accomplishments that make us proud to reach such a monumental milestone.
1. We take pride in our software and how it’s changed how companies meet their biggest long-term goals.
Align’s software has helped numerous companies change how they form business habits. With thousands of teams in 80 countries, companies are continuously achieving success by tracking goals and KPIs, creating a culture rooted in accountability.
Align was built upon the values of the customer always coming first, and if they succeed, so do we.
Amith Nagarajan, one of Align’s founders, reflects on the opportunity that came with building out Align. “We wanted small and medium-sized companies to be able to compete with larger companies. We felt that to account for a size disadvantage, we needed to focus on culture. Specifically, building a culture around accountability. It’s how you choose to go about setting yourself up for success. We believed that if we put a great software tool out there and also worked with coaches, we could make a difference and help many businesses succeed.”
At Align, our culture is a fundamental piece of our company, and we believe it’s essential to have good chemistry amongst our team to succeed best.
2. We have a distinguished mission surrounding our company and the culture each employee brings to the company.
As a smaller company, each member of The Align team brings a different perspective regarding how we deal with breaking into the tech startup industry.
Our culture has never been forced; it’s also never one thing here. It’s constantly changing as we gain new team members. Every person we bring on contributes to our workplace culture. We consistently encourage diversity of thought, allowing all of us to thrive, and just like our product, we are continuously evolving. Being at any sized company is known to bring overwhelming feelings, especially for people like our customers; they need structure to feel like they know what everyone here is doing and working on, hence our promise for full transparency. Doug Walner added, “I think that’s where Align can shine for our customers. It is us helping you clearly identify what people are doing quarterly, what they’re responsible for, and how we’re measuring their metrics in getting sh*t done.”
By prioritizing how we hire within our company, we can put together our best product possible and get it out to the best market, which ultimately leads to more success.
When asked what her favorite part of working for Align, Vice President of Operations Brook Bissinger Davis didn’t hesitate – it was the people.“That’s a no-brainer! We are very particular about who we hire and how they fit into our current company culture. It’s crucial to be able to enjoy conversations, not only business related, and to be challenged by your colleagues in a greater way; that’s the only way a business can really grow. I spend most of my day in meetings with people and want to be around individuals who enjoy and share mutual respect. We have a relaxed yet motivated, excited, and intelligent group of people we work with.” As a team of people obsessed with helping companies achieve greatness, we hire people, not positions. We have big plans for our business, starting with hiring motivated people to help build something great.
3. We stand out against competitors by being more than just a goal-setting software but a game changer in how companies run their businesses.
Every day at Align, we strive to be the best we can be by constantly seeing how we can improve our product and work processes. As Calvin Bonner, our Sales Manager, put it, “our toughest challenge is also our greatest opportunity; there are so many different ways our software can go. Every business comes to us with a new and different idea for what they’re looking for. They all have different backgrounds and methodologies behind their company and are looking if Align is a great fit surrounding their preferred integrations. We are consistent with every product release building out our niche to help as many companies as possible improve.”
Compared to others in the same industry as us, we are a close-knit team who shares in success and failures but don’t stray from what’s important, providing businesses with the best possible tool out there.
As Doug puts it, “What makes us unique is we aren’t just a goal-setting framework; we’re more than that. We’re the communication, culture, and planning around the goal-setting framework. We do more than this narrow view, OKR goal-setting tool; we’re here to try and help you figure out how to make those goals and priorities valuable in the different sorts of rhythms of the organization. For example, when you’re in a planning session, your data is in front of you, and you can take action. Culturally it’s a big thing to share your company’s data and keep employees in the loop, but it could change your business and how you can behave within your organization.”
4. Our Priority is giving our clients the best possible experience when using Align.
When you, as a business leader, see a problem within the way your company is running, that is where we believe we can best thrive. From an introductory demo to executing a plan with the customer success team, we help companies along the way.
Brook Bissinger Davis explains, “We get told a lot by customers that our onboarding is unlike anything they’ve seen. It’s not even just about the product anymore, but how we at Align have the desire to see your company ultimately succeed if you choose to work with us. We have hired people with all levels of experience, but they’re all sharp, smart, and curious when confronting CEOs and their biggest challenges. We want to understand your business and how Align can help your company best implement our practices from the sales team to customer success.”
When our clients succeed, we do too, and why not provide the best-personalized resource?
5. Our commitment to the customer journey is from start to finish.
Our customers are the most crucial part of our business.
As we caught up with Calvin Bonner, he reflected on his daily demos. “I think every single person we’ve talked to who has purchased or hasn’t purchased our software has been a great relationship for us on the sales side. We get a very unique, almost therapeutic, interaction with these CEOs and get to help them every step of the way to continuously build up their company’s growth and ultimately succeed in the best way possible.” Our platform can be used by just about anyone. Calvin continued, “Whenever I have a demo, clients ask what typical kind of company buys your software? I’ve met with marijuana manufacturers in Colorado, farmers in Iraq, and a pipe manufacturer from Australia. The only thing that has covered all three of those is a management team looking to improve on what they do and improve every year and quarter. It’s the most interesting part for me, seeing how our software is used as a tool no matter what industry.” Our tool will continue to grow alongside the company and be able to provide an array of different users with the same framework to initiate success.
6. We bring employees together no matter where they are.
Here at Align, we prioritize bringing our team together no matter the circumstance. We established a culture committee with remote and hybrid workers to set up virtual and hybrid events to bring us all closer, such as happy hours, escape rooms, and community volunteering. Every quarter in our headquarters in New Orleans, we hold planning meetings where all remote employees come together in person.
As Doug Walner reflects on his favorite milestone, he couldn’t pinpoint just one. “I’d say milestones are great, but every time we have a quarterly planning session, I have a proud moment of everyone sitting in the room contributing and all working together towards a common goal.” Bringing together everyone is essential because it helps us build a successful team rather than just a company.
7. We engage and volunteer with our local community.
We love that New Orleans is our headquarters because it’s a city with a pronounced resilient culture. New Orleans is a place that thrives off of rebuilding and community engagement. We find it essential to work with our community continuously.
As we constantly grow, there are numerous ways to do this, whether hands-on rebuilding homes or donating to local charities. When discussing the importance of community engagement with coach and founder Andy Bailey, he said, “Businesses have a responsibility, once they can afford to do it, to support the people around them in their communities, in whatever way that may be. It isn’t about giving back when you haven’t taken something from them in the first place, but the idea surrounding being a healthy enough company to assist people in your community.” Here at Align, we will continue to strive to rebuild our neighborhood as we grow into the future. We strive to work with entrepreneurs just starting through the Entrepreneur Organization. We also developed a networking event called Work in Tech to foster a community and bring those interested in working non-technical jobs at tech start-ups all over New Orleans.
8. Employee interaction encourages the push for growth.
When Doug Walner hires new members to our company, he always ends his interview by discussing that you will always be learning throughout this job. “When you work at Align, you’ll get an education here on business. You’re going to get a full view of how business in general runs versus a business that has some focus on a small narrow niche market doing some utility function; It’s more than that.”
The technology sphere is always changing, and we constantly challenge ourselves in every aspect possible, like marketing, development, and even sales. Every employee has a desire to learn and grow.
9. We are determined to bring trust among Align and our customers.
We work daily with clients who want the best for their companies and achieve greatness by tracking goals and building efficient communication. Andy Bailey believes, “Trust is one of those words that has a lot of different meanings, but you know trusting in someone to produce the desired result without having to track progress is the desired result continuously. There’s an economic value within the term, and it speeds up an organization’s progress if we share full trust.”
Calvin Bonner works with various industries and through every lead, establishing trust is always the most important first step in a demo. “The unique thing about working for Align is the sense of trust across our client base even before they become customers because I think what we do really resonates with them. It doesn’t matter what your industry or company is. Still, the right type of leader in a business sees what we do, understands why we ask the questions, and allows them to be vulnerable and open up to us in a way I’ve never experienced in ordinary sales. There’s this engagement where CEOs and leaders are coming to us and urging more conversations in hopes of improving their business with our software’s help.” Without trust, there is no push for greatness on both sides. Align will always prioritize mutual trust for both parties to succeed.
10. We are excited and optimistic about how much we can grow.
When discussing the hopes for Align’s future, there tended to be one pattern between every answer, building value. Amith said, “I see a day in the near future where over 10,000 businesses benefit from Align. I’d love to see us help improve the performance and cultures in these companies.” Calvin Bonner said, “The biggest thing that I’m excited about when it comes to Align is to continuously address the different needs that come to us across the different industries. From the very beginning, when we were at 9,000 users, there was a specific niche of people we could help, and we did that well. Still, every product release and improved integration opens up a new group of companies willing to work with us and take the next steps to grow their business. So for me, the most exciting part is that with the next product release, we’ll be able to help someone new and continue that pattern from here into the next year and beyond.” By continuously evaluating our strengths and weaknesses, we will be able to grow continually to help more users than ever before.
So a big congratulations and thank you to everyone who has helped Align to where we have gotten to today. These past ten years have been exciting and thrilling, and our company is the best it’s ever been and will continue to grow into something even more significant.
If you want to learn more about how Align can help move your business forward, please book a demo today!