HelloIgnite, an idea generation and implementation software platform, empowers companies to collect, share and manage innovation ideas from employees to improve experiences for customers. Working with global organizations and Fortune 100 clients, HelloIgnite helps foster innovation and help identify opportunities for company growth, organized through a centralized technology platform that works across hybrid workplaces and time zones.

In early 2022, MESA mentors Scott Brown, CEO of Transfur and Jason Marx, President and CEO of Wolters Kluwer Tax and Accounting worked with HelloIgnite CEO Joel Morris, offering him an experienced and impartial sounding board to help him grow the business.

Helping a smart idea scale.

Scott and Jason were drawn to HelloIgnite’s unique innovation solution and the kind of enterprise growth they were targeting. With Scott’s experience founding three startups and Jason’s first-hand knowledge of large enterprises, they were perfectly suited to address Joel’s goals.

“Scott and I are from different ends of the enterprise spectrum,” explained Jason. “I think that’s why we were a good tag team working with Joel because our perspectives and backgrounds complemented both where he was with his business, and where he wanted to go.”

HelloIgnite grew out of an internal innovation initiative at Optum, a UnitedHealth Group business. When Optum determined the solution was outside their core competency, Joel acquired the software to grow it as a standalone business.

“It’s brilliant, really. Joel saw the potential and seized the opportunity,” Scott said. “They had a viable idea, a working solution, and early revenue traction when we got involved. For Joel, the next steps were really about growth and scale – how do we get bigger, faster. As they began to add customers and make connections, Forsta came forward as a suitor.”

Forsta is an industry-leading global provider of market research, customer experience (CX) and employee experience (EX) technology. The company is integrating HelloIgnite’s crowdsourcing and innovation management technology onto its Human Experience platform, further bolstering its CX, EX and Market Research solutions. The acquisition by Forsta closed in August, with HelloIgnite CEO taking a leading role in product development.

How pro bono mentoring helps.

As an all-volunteer organization made up of C-suite software executives with startup background, MESA brings bench strength and expertise across a wide spectrum of disciplines, allowing mentor volunteers to be matched with CEO needs to help advise early-stage software startups. As a mentor team, Jason and Scott would listen and offer insights and options to consider with no investment other than their time and experience. When Forsta came forward they were able to counsel Joel on things to be aware of during negotiations and deal structure.

“We weren’t Joel’s board of directors or investors,” explained Jason. “We were an independent sounding board that he could bounce ideas and issues off. We brought the right kind of experience at a critical point in time. The mentee must always make the decisions – it’s his business.”

Scott added, “Joel was great to work with – smart, organized, and committed. During our time working with him, there were probably two or three critical things discussed that had a big impact on HelloIgnite’s success. We’re proud of that relationship and excited about their next chapter.”