Coaching and communication tech startup raises $1 million

CharismaQ co-founders Katrina Cravy and Terri Herrmann.

Last updated on August 9th, 2021 at 01:23 pm

A local Emmy award-winning journalist and a former executive at Modern Hire are merging their career experiences to launch CharismaQ, an online executive coaching and communications platform.

The Germantown-based startup was co-founded by Katrina Cravy, former WITI-TV Fox 6 news anchor and reporter and Terri Herrmann, former marketing vice president at Modern Hire.

CharismaQ raised a $1 million seed round of funding led by West Bend Mutual Insurance, which happens to be the startup’s first customer. The insurer leveraged the platform to coach and evaluate charisma among its executive team and has plans to extend the program to its independent insurance agents next.

CharismaQ’s video-based platform blends technology, science and expert coaching to evaluate and teach charisma to sales teams and customer-facing employees. Its clients typically engage in “high trust transactions” where a customer is more often buying into the person rather than the complex insurance policy or financial services product being offered, Cravy said.

CharismaQ takes an employee through a video recorded session where they’re asked questions that simulate a sales transaction. Using recorded responses, an employee is evaluated and provided a CharismaQ score based on several factors including overall delivery, authenticity and how well their message aligns with the company’s brand.

A CharismaQ coach then follows up with the employee for ongoing training and actionable advice to improve performance and sales outcomes. The company’s coaches include communication and storytelling experts like Elizabeth Kay, Milwaukee radio personality on 99.1 The Mix and Cravy, who has more than 20 years of experience as a journalist.

“Employee engagement and retention is directly linked to the revenue and growth goals of our customers,” said Herrmann, CharismaQ co-founder. “Leveraging a solution like CharismaQ for new hire onboarding and ongoing learning and development creates happier, more productive employees.”

CharismaQ emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic at a time when sales teams were hamstrung by their inability to close deals in person. Meanwhile, Cravy was searching for a tech-enabled solution to scale her established executive coaching business.

Herrmann was familiar with Modern Hire’s interviewing technology to screen prospective candidates and saw an opportunity to build similar technology that could provide executive and employee coaching at scale, she said.

CharismaQ has secured 15 clients and coached more than 600 members in six countries since it was founded in April 2020. The company will use the funding to scale the business by accelerating platform development, marketing, sales and coaching.

The company has an annual subscription revenue model but also offers workshops – its virtual presence workshop, for example, generated $250,000 in revenue during the first year, Cravy said.

Over the next several months, CharismaQ will become a software-as-a-service-based company where 90% of revenue will come from subscription clients, Herrmann said. Eventually, the startup hopes to either acquire or build software that would automate some of its processes, she added.

“Our goal is to be able to leverage the data and insights that we’re gathering through these evaluations to really help our clients make better hiring and talent management decisions,” Herrmann said.

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