Freespee Hackathon 2018 Round Up

hackathon 2018

Freespee’s hackathon at our Uppsala, Sweden office was a resounding success, it was our second attempt at a coding marathon, but this time our staff members built a product around a specific goal – speech to text.

Speech recognition is already used in IVR systems but not always in the best way, often companies will use automated voices that can be hard to understand and error-prone.

In a bid to kill the arduous IVR and perfect speech recognition for calling customers, four teams (Stomper, Buttercup, Salty Pretzel and Nugget) made up of developers, support, operations, CSMs and product marketing managers came up with four solutions.

The winners received mini Nintendo consoles, fulfilling all our eighties and nineties kid dreams.

As the content impresario, it was up to me to observe and report on the goings-on. Here are a few takeaways from our one-day event.

It was Tech Week in the Uppsala office

The hackathon was the centrepiece of Tech Week at our Uppsala hub, we spent the week discussing our founder Carl’s Speech to Text Vision, our CEO Anne’s company vision, hackathons, sales pitches and problem definition exercises. Then the work began. 

We mixed teams

We integrated members of our product marketing and CSM teams in with the tech team to form a collection of technical ability and client understanding. Turns out, it was the best idea yet. Our tech team discovered that the CSM and product marketing teams have valid points when it comes to how they create features and it resulted in spot-on ideas from both parties.

Our winning team’s idea is now in production

Naturally, I can’t go into the details of our winning team, Stomper’s development. But it was impressive, as were the other demos played during our prize ceremony, so impressive in fact that our jury, made up of our founders and members of our C suite, have pushed Stomper’s feature into production.

There is an alarm in the toilet

I learned a great deal more about my tech trade while in Uppsala, words like demo, live, delay, and mobile are all embedded in my memory. One vital thing I discovered from trial and error was to never press the button in the bathroom that alerts everyone to someone falling into the toilet. I didn’t fall into the toilet but I did cause mayhem when a very loud siren rang out through the office.

We make an amazing team

The hackathon brought together Freespeers from all our offices throughout Europe and the UK, giving us a chance to bond more as a team over breakfast, lunch and dinner arranged by our amazing Uppsala office manager Diana. We laughed and exchanged ideas about work and well, life. It was a fulfilling occasion all around.

Want to join our team? Click here.

Anne de Kerckhove: How I Maintain Balance In Business

hackathon 2018

Anne de Kerckhove_Freespee CEOOur CEO, Anne de Kerckhove, shares her thoughts on growing a business with multiple teams in different countries and striking a balance despite geographical distance.

Managing teams remotely across borders

This is an exciting time for team building. Thanks to the accessibility provided by modern technology, we as a global community feel closer than ever. In business, communication with multiple teams across borders is commonplace and has changed the way we share ideas. While the management of cross-cultural teams comes with its challenges, keeping our core values consistent across all continents maintains unity and a common sense of purpose.

Beyond this, it’s important to remember that every office has its own culture and way of operating and these differences should be embraced and celebrated.

One way to bring it all together across locations is weekly touchpoints, on top of all the emails, Slack channels and other virtual tools. At Freespee we hold weekly video conference calls called “All Hands” where each European office dials in and share their achievements, successes and plans for the future and have a good laugh.

A love for travel and openness to movement is also essential to managing outside of email and chat. Team-facing meetings are great for morale and at times key decisions are better made and understood 1:1. We meet in person often and that will never be compromised.


Gender and background diversity has been a major driving force throughout my career to date and I hope to continue to actively encourage women to join boards, and help both men and women from all backgrounds to develop the skills needed to succeed in fair and equal environments.

As a leader in tech, I believe that to make things change, you must start from within and lead by example. Only then can you really make an impact.

Maintaining a north star

Enterprises like ours are made of moving parts. In the technology ecosystem, development is lightning fast and ideas are constantly exchanged and implemented. Maintaining a north star amid this change is how we keep our feet on the ground.

The north star metric, first established in Silicon Valley, is essential to our long-term growth and is arguably the single most important aspect of any business’ growth model. For Freespee, our north star is “powering great conversations.”

Every aspect of what we do is in reverence to this common goal. How do we make every moment of a conversation valuable for both brand and consumer? This focus on value is what drives the creation of new features, the rejuvenation of our product and the care for our clients, both present and future.

Creating connection cross borders

When making deals internationally, I’m well aware that not all strategies translate. Creating connections with clients across borders boils down to adaptation and an empathy for pain points. If you’re serving international clientele, make sure your team reflects this diversity, translate your website and get to know the culture of business in every region you cater to.

Learn more about Anne’s vision for Freespee here.

How To Use Call Tracking For Sales and Marketing Alignment

sales and marketing align

Sales and marketing sectors need each other to stay steps ahead of their buyer base. One purpose of marketing is to coerce leads down the funnel quickly until they finally land on a salesperson. Accelerating that process is up to how well these two parties integrate, in order to do this the software stack needs to support both teams.

“A common complaint from marketing is that sales reps are not playing their part in contributing data that is vital to high-quality lead generation, the sales team often complains that marketing is not doing enough to attract the right types of leads that enable high-revenue conversions and long-term opportunities,” writes Internal Results.

Adapting call tracking systems into a tech stack can be a secret weapon for either party. Here’s how:


Call tracking reports contain heaps of useful data for both sales and marketing, all in one place and accessible by both teams. Stats like advertising channels, caller insights, reporting tags, missed calls, geolocation and more provide relevant information that can help marketers manage their ad spend and push leads forward quicker using keyword detection and campaign performance. Meanwhile, sales can better understand the context of every caller, rework their pitches based on new customer information and enable those high-revenue conversions.

Buying cycle visibility

After identifying patterns in how customers interact with a brand in both phone calls and website interactions, sales and marketing teams can explore a common meaning for a “qualified lead.” When this definition is out of balance, a lead whether it is an MQL or SQL is tossed back and forth between sectors until the prospect lags in a longer buying cycle or goes somewhere else. Stopping bottlenecks in their tracks is a goal both sales and marketing teams can agree on. A sign of total alignment is when the buying cycle is short and seamless. Call tracking software can shorten the cycle and offer visibility down to the user-level (in some cases) by plugging tracking data into their sales or CRM system. This can reveal the best response times for phone calls and channels for campaigns.

Closing the loop

A perfect scenario combines these aspects of call tracking technology and creates a closed loop strategy which provides visibility of the entire funnel from start to end for both sales and marketing teams. Sales can communicate with marketing about what worked to close a sale and what didn’t. The technology is there, but there is a perception that its too difficult and time consuming to implement. This isn’t the case, yes the Cloud has increased the number of leads coming in but sales and marketing can combine man and machine easily to create a seamless experience for both.

Want to know more about call tracking? Click here. 

Via: Internal ResultsHubspot

How To Use Call Tracking Reporting To Prove Campaign Success

Call tracking reporting helps prove the momentum of campaigns. There are multiple metrics used to pursue a strategy and close the gap between marketing and sales. According to McKinsey, “customer data must be considered strategic.” What would these call tracking reports look like? When reviewing the ROI of a campaign using calls, there are a few factors to consider.

Did you meet your goals?

Before any campaign launch, strategic goals are set based on KPIs such as; social media impressions, virality, customer satisfaction, mentions and conversions. Determining the source of these measurements and metrics is achieved by following their impact from the beginning of the campaign until the end.

Leads per channel

There are multiple ways to capture leads in this day and age. Proving overall campaign success accurately means accounting for as many as possible. Channels to consider with call tracking mostly fall under the digital category or any location a dynamic or static number can be placed. These include mobile advertising, email, desktop app, Facebook, PPC, print ad, TV advert, etc.

New contacts

Nurturing brand new leads and gaining new customers is an easy way to achieve short-term goals. Both customer retention and acquisition is important to the growth of any business but, showing the increase in customer acquisition based on a campaign is a great indicator of exactly where you are going as a brand.

Calls are a useful way to capture this data. It’s already proven how important calls are to customer acquisition – more and more customers are calling thanks to smartphones. Google Think found that a “majority of respondents would call instead of reach out online because they’re looking to get a quick answer (59%) or talk to a real person (57%).” 

With this in mind, building a report that helps close the marketing and sales gap while also proving the value of every campaign is down to managing your data in real time, leaving no stone unturned. Reporting should be a well used muscle that constantly informs the communication strategy and creates natural brand evolution.

Via: Google Think, McKinsey