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West Chester's Hoopla gamifies sales, rakes in $2.3M in Series A funds

If you see your name on a game leaderboard, it's natural to want to make it to the No. 1 spot. Hoopla Software, based in West Chester, provides game dynamics to sales teams. Hoopla recently raised $2.3 million in Series A round financing, of which Safeguard Scientifics deployed $1.3 million.
When Mike Smalls, Hoopla founder and CEO, launched the company at the end of 2009, he says, "I didn't even know what gamification was." His desire to combine gaming and sales came, rather, from solving his own challenges running the sales aspect of organizations, including TurnTide, which was sold to Symantec, and Destiny Software. "It's always a challenge trying to get optimal behaviors and actions from your team." 
Smalls, looking into psychological and motivational elements, discovered game mechanics. "I didn't know it at the time, but I was stumbling across the same market as gamification of the enterprise. I was focused on the sales call center world."
The feed on Hoopla's wall mount monitor has a sports-like feel, and its graphics have been compared to ESPN. "The audience we are targeting, sales and call center folks, tend to be heavy sports fans. It works for them to have the analysis played out." He adds that sales people tend to be more competitive. "It's a little more in your face culture of competition. You wouldn't apply the same model to the Human Resources department," says Smalls.
Hoopla's initial product was a free countdown clock app for Salesforce, which generated a database of 400 customers. Smalls considers the scoreboard which followed to be Hoopla's flagship product, with "dozens and dozens" of customers already, without a lot of marketing. "Every one of our paid customers has come to us. We've built relationships with Salesforce sales reps or on the App Exchange." 
Hoopla's scoreboard technology is available on an annual subscription basis. Price points are based on the number of users, says Smalls, who estimates the cost at about a hundred dollars per user per year.

Source: Mike Smalls, Hoopla
Writer: Sue Spolan
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