Sarah Haggard, Founder & CEO of Tribute
Today, PeopleTech Partners joins Sarah Haggard to discuss her plans for Tribute and reflect on her progress as a founder. Sarah is an entrepreneur and business leader who has led multiple start-up initiatives within her decade long career in product marketing at Microsoft, raising $40M to scale her last business. Expert in P&L management, enterprise software and GTM strategy, Sarah’s tenacity and drive for results led to her being widely recognized as a turnaround expert and new business incubator. Sarah’s leadership style is engaging and authentic. Her superpower is her ability to spot patterns, turn ideas into products, and activate the right people at the right time to deliver results. Sarah holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Seattle University and a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and Business Administration from Augustana College in Rock Island, IL.
Sarah is the Founder & CEO of PTP Portfolio company Tribute, the peer-to-peer mentorship platform that enhances team collaboration, learning, and productivity by creating real-time access to knowledge sharing via micro-mentorship.
Sarah, what gave you the idea to start Tribute?
I founded Tribute after spending 10+ years working at Microsoft and struggling to find a Mentor. We kept starting and stopping initiatives, using spreadsheets to match everyone, and connecting people based on titles, hierarchy, and status. It was the definition of insanity to me. Here I was working around some of the smartest, most talented people in the world, but I was limited to meeting people within my small organization. Worse, I wasn’t creating meaningful connections.
Mentorships felt awkward and more like going on a bad date. Traditional mentoring programs connect people on what psychologists call your “false self.” I wanted to disrupt traditional mentoring models with a technology platform that would allow employees find a mentor anytime, anywhere. And not just any technology platform, but one that would help us connect through our shared humanity.
That’s why Tribute leads with storytelling and helps employees find a mentor through shared life experiences, in addition to skills they’re looking to develop.
Who benefits from your solution Tribute offers?
Employees benefit from Tribute by being able to build their network across the entire organization, while seeking support on-demand, without having to ask HR or worse, not ask at all. Organizations benefit from Tribute in several ways. First, by modernizing their mentorship approach so they can move beyond creating a mentoring program to creating a mentoring culture. This means embracing continuous learning, developing leaders at every stage, and democratizing access to knowledge, wisdom, and opportunity.
Second, Tribute simplifies and streamlines the administration of traditional mentoring programs. While it’s true that successful mentoring programs have a combination of technology x training x management, we need to elevate L&D leaders out of day-to-day match making to more strategic functions, like creating a mentoring culture that provides the psychological safety needed to ask for help.
Lastly, Tribute provides organizations real-time insights on what their employees are seeking mentorship and guidance on. This is powerful. Now, we don’t have to wait on lagging employee surveys to glean this insight. It’s real-time and actionable now.
Tell us more about why this is so important.
The future of work is flexible, transparent, and focused on building continuous learning organizations. Hybrid work is only going to exaggerate the need for digital solutions for employee to connect, collaborate and learn from one another. Jeff Diana, Calendly’s CPO and PTP Advisor sums it up best, “Tribute is leading a revolution inside progressive organizations worldwide. The message Tribute’s platform sends to talent everywhere is clear: we trust you have something to offer and to give. We believe in your ability to navigate your own learning – not only for just in time knowledge sharing, but to form strong relationships based on both personal and professionalexperiences. Simply put, this is what a mentoring culture looks like in action. Tribute’s impact on organizations and their bottom-line is unmistakable. People drive results and Tribute drive People to be the very best they can be.”
What are some examples of companies leveraging your tool?
Today our largest customers are Microsoft and Zillow. Microsoft uses Tribute to help with sales onboarding, helping engineers become people managers, and connecting global IT professionals together for mentorship. Zillow uses Tribute to connect their remote workforce for on-demand, peer-to-peer learning. We continue to see onboarding, remote work, career development and peer-to-peer learning as huge drivers of demand for our platform.
What have you learned from your users and customers so far?
So much! Tribute takes a customer development approach to everything we do. We have built Tribute bit-by-bit alongside our customers. We still have so much to learn. That said, the biggest thing I’ve learned is that personal relationships are the currency to learning and opportunity inside organizations. Developing those trusted, vulnerable relationships is key to getting to the work of mentorship. When you appeal to the desire for human connection in all of us, you unlock the wisdom in everyone. Technology platforms are just the vehicle to connection, not the solution.
What would you like to say to People leaders who are thinking of using your platform?
Give us a try! Download our Definitive Guide to Modern Mentorship and join us on our mission to a mentoring culture inside of your organization. Modernizing PeopleTech takes all of us to make a difference. HRTech startups can’t be successful without innovative People Leaders willing to do things differently.
As a founder, what has been most challenging for you or your company?
Founding a startup is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. To be honest, I never thought I’d have the guts to be an entrepreneur. I had a great career at Microsoft and couldn’t fathom stepping away from that. The thing is, when an idea as powerful as Tribute hits you, you have to follow it. There is such huge need for disrupting how we learn and connect with our peers in organizations today. The most challenging thing for me and my company has been helping companies see that mentorship is a “must have” vs “nice-to-have” to develop high performing teams. Even the word ‘mentorship’ can sometimes evoke a negative reaction. For many that’s because their mental model of mentorship is stuck in the traditional top-down definition. Knowledge and wisdom are everywhere and flow in every direction. At Tribute, we treat everyone in your organization as a mentor and believe that the future of learning is peer-to-peer, experiential and on-demand.
What has been the most fun or rewarding?
Working with some of the most innovative, inspiring people leaders who truly get this space, and are passionate about the future of learning and development. That and seeing people using and loving your product every day. The stories I’ve heard from people that have connected on our platform inspire me to keep going, especially on the most difficult of days!
What advice do you have for other founders, companies, personas who may use or benefit from your solution?
Being a thought-leader, innovator, life-long learner – these are all buzz words we like to use to describe ourselves, but for most people, walking the walk of growth and change is hard! Really, really hard. It’s easier to swim back to shore than it is to take the risk. Learning how to learn, how to take risks, how to navigate the difficult emotions that come with change. These are all things necessary for leadership. Whether you’re leading a company, a team or just yourself. As an entrepreneur, I’ve dealt with more fear, uncertainty, and doubt in the last 3 years than I have in my entire lifetime. But I take heart because I know that thriving in adversity is not only character building, it’s the definition of what being a thought-leader, innovator and life-long learner is really all about.
What’s next for you and Tribute?
Tribute aims to be the defacto peer-to-peer learning platform for Fortune 500 organizations. We’re growing rapidly, especially as return to work plans include a hybrid work environment.
We’re looking to hire our first engineering leader and continue to build out our sales and customer success teams to provide the best product and service to our customers.