That’s not to say that millennial managers don’t want to grow. Most of the time, they simply lack the resources to develop their skill set in a way that’s reflective of their demands.
Now, in 2020, flip-charts, workshop rooms and week-long seminars are long gone, but management training has yet to experience the digital disruption that we’ve seen in other areas of our lives. The wisdom on leadership and building great teams is out there. However, finding it in books, podcasts, videos and blog posts is tedious and cumbersome and so most millennial managers embark on their leadership journey unprepared and under-equipped.
As a psychologist-gone-rogue, Darja quit her Ph.D. to start her first company, and she’s now a third-time founder. After having worked for corporates like BMW, being a researcher in the field of organizational innovation, as well as a strategy consultant and leadership coach, she is on a mission to change the way we develop the new generation of leaders. The team has just released Bunch, an AI Leadership Coach that enables users to become better leaders in two minutes a day.
Renita: There are a lot of problems to solve in the world, Darja. Why this one?
Darja: When I started in coaching and leadership development seven years ago, I recognized a pattern among my clients. Despite being founders and execs at high-growth startups, they felt they were in way over their heads as leaders. Seeing so many managers are starting out to build, and grow high-performance teams without much support or resources helped me realize my personal mission. Growing up with an entrepreneur – my mum is running a restaurant – and watching her struggle with her team constantly, I knew there must be a better way.
When I tried to hunt down resources for the founders I worked with, I found answers to most of the questions they ran into, however it took hours and sometimes days, to pull together the tailored plan of action that these leaders needed. So when we started building Bunch, our mission was clear: help managers become better leaders and make it as friction-less and accessible as possible.
We do this by delivering practical, high-impact and actionable leadership tips in two minutes or less. When we started to receive messages and emails from managers all around the world, we realized, it’s a huge problem and it affects millions of people.
Renita: That’s a big mission! But there’s a lot of content on leadership already out there. Where does Bunch fit in — what makes it different?
Darja: There is loads of content out there. But when I read articles on HBR or First Round Capital, for example, I often miss the clear “So what?” action items that help me understand how to put it into practice with my team today.
Of course, being a psychologist, I appreciate the rigor that goes into the empirical and theoretical research behind the HBR articles, but in order to apply the newly acquired knowledge as an over-extended manager in back-to-back zoom meetings, you need that extra piece of tangible advice.
Moreover, for many managers long-form content isn’t an effective way to learn. They need daily nugget-size lessons where the learning effect compounds over time. At Bunch, we curate content from sources like HBR, management books, TED talks and even personal blogs of CEOs and founders, and put it through an instructional design process where our primary goal is making it accessible, bite-sized and actionable.
We want our managers to be able to take a daily tip and use it immediately. What DuoLingo did in the language learning space, Bunch is doing for the management training industry.
Renita: I love it, it’s the micro-approach to learning. Who is your typical user?
Darja: We’re just shy of 1,000 managers, growing 11% week over week on average. The majority are either team leads, in director or VP positions, or founders. Also, a growing demographic is aspiring managers who work in fast-paced startup environments and don’t have opportunities for mentoring or coaching.
The millennial leaders using Bunch share a mindset: they believe that growth and learning are necessary to thrive in this world. It’s not a maybe. One of our users told me: “If I don’t grow, I die.” Most of our users already have learning routines in place in their mornings. We’re just enabling behavior that already exists.
Renita: No two leaders are alike, though. And the future of tech lies in personalization. How are you tackling customization? Where does the AI fit in?
Darja: Personalization is actually one of our top priorities. If not the top priority. When I open my app, I am getting different tips than you would. We don’t dictate what managers learn, we just provide them with a customized path. The AI coach decentralizes and democratizes how leaders learn and grow.
After our onboarding questions, we assign each user one of 14 leadership archetypes: this is a proprietary psychological profiling framework, developed based on a scientific framework measuring organizational culture of our partner Prof. Dr. Charles O’Reilly at Stanford GSB. Your profile reveals your beliefs, what kind of team you would succeed in, what your potential strengths and weaknesses could be, and your best collaborators. Based on this and your learning goals, our AI-powered recommendation technology recommends and personalizes tips for you.
Renita: So who pays for this, what’s your business model? And where can we get it?
Darja: Currently it’s free, but we will be launching a premium version soon, at $9.99 per month. So it’ll be affordable enough that individuals can pay for it themselves. You can download the iOS on the App Store. Android is coming soon!
Renita: Got it. Last question: What are you excited about for the future?
Darja: Leadership is no longer about formal authority and titles; leaders need to have follower-ship, to captivate people’s hearts and everyone who understands that and develops a strong set of behaviors to help them reach people can become a leader, formal authority or not. I call this the FOUNDER MINDSET. It transcends the meaning of founder as an owner of a business, it’s much more the mindset and belief that you are a creator, that you can solve problems by proactively tackling them and tapping into your creativity and enabling that in others.
The new generation know they are creators; they’re following leaders who are humble and enabling others to thrive, as well as developing a strong Founder Mindset themselves. I’m really excited to see how the new generation will help us become better as a society.
By the way, we’re hiring engineers, designers and marketers at Bunch, so if you’re keen on co-creating the future of leadership, head over here.