Best Practices

How Starburst used ChartHop to fuel their hypergrowth

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by Natalie Serrano

February 17th, 2021

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The ChartHop Team

Sometimes, our biggest problems are ones we don’t even know we have. 

Then, before we know it, those once harmless problems become pressing issues that can halt a company’s growth. 

When an industry associate introduced Starburst CEO, Justin Borgman, to ChartHop, he knew it would make a huge difference in aligning and scaling his rapidly growing team. All while reducing the headaches and time spent manually creating org charts and hiring plans from spreadsheets. 

The right solutions at the right time can be a game changer, especially for startups growing at rapid pace. 


Bringing Starburst’s philosophy of work to life 

Justin is no stranger to data and analytics. In fact, he’s built an entire career out of his expertise in the field. After founding analytics powerhouse Hadapt (now part of Teradata after its acquisition in 2014), he’s making his return to the startup world with Starburst - the world’s fastest distributed SQL query engine.

Driven in part by curiosity, Borgman was “naturally intrigued” by ChartHop’s dynamic design. His interest was piqued by the ability to visualize a changing org structure by dragging and dropping team members around the org chart - a feature he knew his management team could leverage as they plotted out their post-Series B growth. 

ChartHop org chart with drag and drop functionality

With ChartHop's headcount planning feature you can create future headcount scenarios in a dynamic sandbox environment.

For Borgman, having a tool that his whole team could easily use and derive insights from was a major competitive advantage, and one that aligned nicely with his personal management philosophy.

Philosophically, Justin “very much wants to spread autonomy throughout the org as much as possible,” he explains. “Rather than me dictating headcounts for each team, I'd rather them tell me what they need. And ChartHop is the perfect tool to foster that two-way communication.” 

Borgman is a big believer in empowering his management team to own their respective corners of the business, and to use their direct insight to build their future teams. But working autonomously does not mean working in silos. 

In order for his teams to plan with intention, they first needed clarity on where they stand, and how their plans would fit into Starburst’s larger goals. 

Rather than me dictating headcounts for each team, I'd rather them tell me what they need. And ChartHop is the perfect tool to foster that two-way communication.

Justin Borgman, CEO & Founder @ Starburst

Searching for truth in all the wrong places 

Prior to ChartHop, Borgman and his executive assistant were putting so much time - over an hour every week- pulling spreadsheets from their HR tech platforms and manually pulling that data into an org chart. 

“It was really important for us to constantly communicate who was who with our team. We would create a PowerPoint that would become obsolete almost immediately after we created it,” Borgman recalls. “We would try to literally draw our org charts, which was really difficult to maintain." 

Starburst began as a bootstrapped company, growing organically and profitably, but in late 2019, Borgman decided it was time to accelerate. Over the ensuing 12 months period, headcount grew from 50 people to 200 people as the company proceeded to raise $164M in venture capital. The pain from this manual process of org chart updates in powerpoint was becoming unbearable.

“We would be sharing our org chart during monthly all hands meetings and realize that there was always something wrong - we would forget someone, or miss part of someone’s title - and then have to make additional updates.” Manual errors aside, at 200 employees and growing, Borgman could barely even fit his team neatly into one slide. 

Beyond that, his spreadsheets and existing HR tech platforms weren’t even capable of giving him the full picture on his people data, especially as his team grew globally. With employees in the UK, Poland, Canada, and Panama, Starburst just did not have the tools it needed to consolidate data on its globally distributed workforce in one place. 

We would create a powerpoint that would become obsolete almost immediately after we created it. We would try to literally draw our org charts, which was really difficult to maintain.

Justin Borgman, CEO & Founder @ Starburst

Especially in a remote world, an inconsistent org chart meant that it was nearly impossible for new hires to understand the reporting structure and where they fit into the larger company picture. 

When Borgman found ChartHop, he felt that he finally had the tools and language he needed to identify and address Starburst’s growing pains. 


Keeping pace with rapid growth 

As a second-time founder and a connoisseur of data tools, Borgman was immediately drawn to ChartHop’s data visualization. He quickly identified how CharatHop’s org chart could bring clarity to his company. At the time they were in the midst of fundraising their Series B round, and on the precipice of rapid growth. 

ChartHop navigate org chart

With ChartHop's org chart you can easily navigate across teams and departments across your org.

At a growing startup - in the middle of a global pandemic - it’s easy for new team members to become overwhelmed and not know who people are or what functions they perform. 

There's that old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. That’s where ChartHop comes into play. With rich visuals, you can understand and see things so much faster than trying to figure things out through spreadsheets.

Justin Borgman, CEO & Founder @ Starburst

According to Borgman, “time is probably the most precious resource we have as a startup.” Indeed, for startups, growth happens, and it happens fast. 

In the last year, Starburst raised two major funding rounds, and grew their team from 60 to 175 employees. The decisions they made back in March had a huge impact on how their business runs, now and in the future.


‘A picture is worth a thousand words’

Having the right tools to navigate growth with efficiency and agility can enable companies to adapt to any situation. 

“There's that old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words,” he muses. “That’s where ChartHop comes into play. With rich visuals, you can understand and see things so much faster than trying to figure things out through spreadsheets."

Even though Borgman’s team initially used ChartHop’s org chart for team clarity and as an org directory, he quickly identified other ways to leverage ChartHop to make strategic and context-based people planning decisions. 

“Today we're close to 188 people. ChartHop has become increasingly important to me as we’ve continued to grow at a rapid pace.”


Enabling org-wide alignment 

Borgman created a company where all teams could feel empowered to chart the course for their future. But to do that, he needed a tool that aligned team decisions to the company’s budget and goals. 

ChartHop creates more transparency around the organization, which ensures that teams can work seamlessly together to achieve our goals..

Justin Borgman, CEO & Founder @ Starburst

ChartHop offered an easy way to define the impact of headcount planning. Starburst’s team leveraged ChartHop’s headcount planning tools to provide “visibility into what the budget impact is based on salary changes,” he explains. “If you’re adding five new members to your team, that adds X amount dollars to your budget on an annual basis.” 

ChartHop's headcount planning impact on budget

With ChartHop's headcount planning you can easily track how proposed headcount changes impact overall budget.

Beyond its impact on budget, Starburst uses ChartHop to ensure that each team scales commensurately. Using their org chart, Borgman discovered that his company’s sales team scaled up at a much quicker pace than the marketing team. That meant there was not enough people-power to generate leads for sales reps to close. 

Once the issue was diagnosed, Starburst’s CMO felt empowered to grow the marketing team to sustainably feed leads to all of the new sales reps. In this way “ChartHop creates more transparency around the organization, which ensures that teams can work seamlessly together to achieve our goals.”

By helping Starburst identify this gap in the team’s makeup, ChartHop enabled the revenue team to meet their goals, adding millions of dollars to their bottom line. 


Streamlining headcount planning

Using ChartHop as Starburst’s people data command center, Borgman leaves planning in the capable hands of his management team. 

"Headcount Planning takes me almost no time at all because really I'm not doing the work at this,” Borgman explains. “It’s the team leads who are really thinking about what their teams need.” 

An exercise that would have cost the company tens of thousands of dollars before - in time spent gathering data and building out spreadsheets - is now more efficiently routed through the management team who already have the context to create the best plans. 

Using ChartHop’s sandbox planning environment, managers draft proposed plans themselves. When their plans are ready, they can have quick conversations with Borgman to get final approval, all within the platform. 

ChartHop comp planning streamlined approval process

With ChartHop's compensation planning features you can streamline approval workflows - all in one platform.

This gives Borgman more time to focus on running his business and maintaining a product that delivers value to his customers. 

Headcount Planning takes me almost no time at all [with ChartHop] because really I'm not doing the work at this. It’s the team leads who are really thinking about what their teams need.

Justin Borgman, CEO & Founder @ Starburst

Reducing hiring costs

ChartHop’s ability to quickly tabulate headcount budgets based on proposed plans ultimately reduces Starbursts’ needs for a large finance team, saving them hundreds of thousands in annual headcount costs.

“Despite how much we have grown, we continue to run our company with a very small G&A team. ChartHop is definitely one of the reasons we’re able to do that.” Even as they scale their budget, people, and costs, Starburst’s G&A team is running smoothly with a mighty team of two. 

That’s because ChartHop enables teams to align their planning to a budget. Managers were able to strategically plan from the bottom up. All while saving valuable time not having to schedule additional planning meetings to secure approval and alignment. 


Connecting a remote workplace

One of the biggest challenges companies continue to face in our virtual new normal is how to encourage employee camaraderie and engagement. 

“Fostering more interdepartmental collaboration is top of mind for me,” says Borgman. “That’s a huge challenge of working from home that ChartHop helps with.” By attaching employee profiles to their spot on the org chart, ChartHop is helping break down silos between teams. 

Starburst employees are able to pull each others’ social media handles, and other highlighted information. This glimpse into an employee’s life helps build connections among employees in a virtual workplace.   

ChartHop org chart connects to employee profiles

With ChartHop's org chart you can easily navigate to employee profiles and get to know your colleagues.

Despite being remote, Starburst employees are not alone. 

Fostering more interdepartmental collaboration is top of mind for me. That’s a huge challenge of working from home that ChartHop helps with.

Justin Borgman, CEO & Founder @ Starburst

Flying through the fog

For Borgman, growing a startup during COVID-19 has felt a lot like a pilot flying a plane in the fog. Just as a pilot needs the right instrumentation to get their passengers and crew to safety, startups need the right tools to grow strategically, sustainably, and with intention. 

ChartHop enabled Starburst to not only make quick decisions, but ones that allow them to successfully navigate a future teeming with growth.  

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Blog Author

Written by Natalie Serrano

Customer Success Manager

Best Practices

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