The Fund Founder Spotlight Interview: Fran Brzyski of Hark
The Fund is a founder community and early stage fund, by founders for founders.
Welcome to The Founder Spotlight where we highlight the incredible people behind the companies we’ve backed at The Fund. This week the spotlight is on Fran Brzyski, founder and CEO of Hark, a new video-based CX channel aimed at helping companies deliver a best-in-class experience while decreasing costs.
You just received the new (insert product here) that you ordered online and it’s NOT what you thought you were getting. You feel instantly annoyed and that sense of dread sets in of having to find the customer service contact and “explain” your issue. Sometimes they ask for photos, but what format: jpeg, png? How big can the file be? How long will it take? It’s all one big headache, when all you want is what you paid for!
Hark is a new video-based customer experience (CX) channel that allows customers an easier way to get in touch with their favorite brands post purchase. For the first time, customers don’t need to chat with a robot or wait on hold. Instead, they are prompted to take a short video right from the beginning to explain (and show) what they need help with. Companies want to deliver a frictionless experience while also decreasing costs and that is exactly what this solution does. By using video/audio asynchronously, Hark helps brands better understand their customer's point of view and seamlessly collect all relevant information up front into “the perfect ticket.” Hark is led by founder and CEO Fran Brzyski who has worked for over 10 years in sales and CX. He was motivated to build Hark to address a new generation of shoppers who want to communicate in a different way than what you typically find… forms, email, phone, and chat. He saw the opportunity to create a best-in-class customer experience while simultaneously making customer service processes more efficient.
Hark is definitely living up to its name!
How does Hark inspire “customer love”?
We create transparency, mutual respect, and trust between customers and their brands. It's so competitive now with e-commerce retailers; each interaction is crucial to retain and grow your current customer base. When bad experiences do happen, you risk losing that customer to go shop somewhere else AND having them broadcast the negative experience online. With Hark, customers don’t waste time because they can easily get in touch, feel heard, and track the progress of their inquiry until resolution.
On the brand side, think about all the insights they have around the customer- their voice, sentiment, and a better understanding of the problem. When they share that video and other content with their product team it's going to be so much more real than an email or chat. It gives real feedback and puts the product team in the customer’s shoes.
Why is Hark going to win?
First and foremost over everything, our team. It’s an incredible group and most of us have worked together at past startups. We've seen what works and what doesn't work. We are not afraid to challenge each other and ensure we are executing our vision in a calculated manner. Further, this process solves a massive problem day one. CX leaders are all facing similar difficulties of trying to be everywhere the customer is but limited in budget and headcount. They need to find new innovative ways to scale and we’re here to help them with that.
What have been some of the greatest challenges founding Hark?
I’m a sole, non-technical founder. So, how do I attract, hire, and retain technical talent? I’ve done that by surrounding myself with people I trust and can support in areas where I lack experience. For example, I’ve had advisors and friends jump on calls to help interview potential engineers or product managers. Doing this has led to an amazing team, building the foundation of Hark. There are no egos here. We know what we don’t know and have an advisory panel of CX experts and serial entrepreneurs helping us navigate.
Tell us about some recent milestones that Hark crushed.
We raised over $1.5M and I’m so humbled to have such a supportive cap table. We've got RiverPark, The Fund, M13, Lightbank, Green Egg Ventures, Hatchet Ventures and then an amazing angel list. We also completed our initial hiring in a month by building a team of people I’ve worked with at past startups. Our first check technically came at the end of May and we’ve already launched our product and we’re bringing on our first customers. It’s been busy and we’ve accomplished all of the things we set out to do in the first couple of months.
What can you recommend to other founders in terms of podcasts, books, advice?
We started a podcast at Hark called The Blend: CX & EX that just came out and it focuses on the customer experience. The podcast Funded with host Jason Yeh is awesome for fundraising. A book I recommend is The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk. It’s important to do a deep inventory of yourself to realize how you react to things and why, so you can become a better version of yourself. You will be challenged mentally in ways that you've never experienced before, so the last piece of advice I would give is that it’s imperative to hire some sort of coach or therapist as soon as you can to accompany you on the journey.
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