5 Tech Leaders on How They Foster Innovation in the Tech Sector

Innovation & Entrepreneurship

 

Creation and Innovation

Technology is an ever-evolving industry where even the simplest ideas can transform the future. As Steve Jobs once said, “Simple can be harder than complex. You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” The secret is innovative thinking, which is fundamental to technological growth. But without clarity and direction, even the most brilliant ideas stagnate.

These Chattanooga tech leaders avoided the rut and founded successful companies that provide innovative services to clients and consumers. Here, they share how their businesses continue to foster innovation in the tech sector.  

By Lindsey June

Jamey Elrod, Owner and Co-Founder of Text Request

Jamey Elrod

Owner & Co-Founder, Text Request

Text Request is a software company that helps businesses and organizations communicate more effectively with their customers. It provides the software, tools, and features that companies need so they can text with customers in an organized and professional manner as a team. 

“We foster innovation in the tech sector in numerous ways, especially as more businesses are leaning into the power of text messaging and discovering the many benefits it can deliver, from revenue generation to customer service. But, keeping it simple and listening to our customers’ needs is my favorite way to foster innovation. Our customers tell us what they need to be successful, then we talk about their requests as a team and build them. My dad always told me there is a reason we have two ears and one mouth: so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”

 

Max Farrell, CEO & Co-Founder of Workhound

Max Farrell

CEO & Co-Founder, WorkHound

WorkHound is a real-time feedback platform for frontline workers that helps companies reduce turnover. Through text and mobile-web applications, it creates a process for workers to share anonymous feedback with their company to create multiple ways for them to act on that information and increase workplace morale. 

“The survey has been around forever, but we found that companies do a one-time survey, and only some people would participate, and the company wouldn’t know what to do with the data, so they’d do nothing. Asking for feedback is good, but doing something is great, and then telling people what you did, communicating back, and closing that feedback loop – that’s the cherry on the sundae. Some may consider our innovation simple, but there’s a lot of time and energy that goes into a simplistic design. For us, what’s been rewarding is watching companies change their culture based on the feedback and seeing the operational numbers as a result. Companies have doubled their stock price, become a more diverse organization, and addressed some of their blind spots simply by having an avenue for their people to share what’s on their minds and a process to do something about it.”

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R. Platt Boyd, CEO and Founder of Branch Technology

R. Platt Boyd

CEO & Founder, Branch Technology 

Branch Technology is a construction tech company that digitally prefabricates composite walls using large-scale robots and 3D printing to bring new capabilities to an older industry. It offers a patented 3D-printing process called Cellular Fabrication, or C-Fab®, that allows material to solidify in open space and creates a matrix of polymer in virtually any shape. 

“We are rethinking how buildings can be made through cross-disciplinary collaboration with software, robotics, hardware, material science, and building science to make code-compliant building enclosures in a completely new way. Our team comes up with ways to give new design and product capabilities to one of the oldest industries, while still meeting the very stringent life-safety and performance requirements of modern buildings. We are creating products in normal commercial construction budgets that would have been two to three times more costly, all while generating less waste, creating higher-quality products, using an inherently digital process, and creating buildings with better long-term energy performance that look amazing!”

 

Travis Truett, CEO and Co-Founder of AmbitionTravis Truett

CEO & Co-Founder, Ambition

Ambition helps companies build, scale, and manage distributed sales teams through its coaching and gamification software. What started as “Fantasy Football for Sales” turned into a sales performance platform used by the Fortune 500 to drive employee behavior and outcomes regardless of where they are. 

“There are a lot of companies out there right now trying to replace humans with AI. We’re big believers that people are still a company’s greatest asset and that we should focus not on replacing them but empowering them. So when I think about innovation at Ambition, it’s not splitting the atom but instead humanizing software so that employees have a great experience while reaching their potential. It’s helping companies improve both culture and productivity lock-step, which we believe is a critical success factor for companies today.”

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George Yu, CEO and Founder of Variable

George Yu

CEO & Founder, Variable

Variable, Inc. is a sensor technology company best known for its Color Muse colorimeter, a small device that pairs via Bluetooth to smartphones. It’s used in conjunction with the Color Muse app, where users can scan colored surfaces like walls and match them to the closest color from a library of top paint brands on the market.

“At Variable, we are problem-solvers at heart. That ethos goes into our hiring process. We want our team to think outside the box and be willing to speak up and find unique solutions to problems they face. The problem-solving culture goes all the way to the top.”

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