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15Five’s feedback platform helps execs work hard, play harder

Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard is a visionary. He is a wildly successful businessman, accomplished outdoorsman, and pioneer in corporate management philosophy. Determined not to let his career encroach upon his sporting pursuits, Chouinard created a unique company culture where executives and employees were free to strike a flexible balance between work and play. yvon chouinard

His legacy inspired entrepreneur David Hassell to start 15Five. 15Five is an employee feedback system that seeks to strengthen the internal level of communication within a company. Today, 15Five announced that it secured $1 million on seed funding led by Richmond Global, and from big name angel investors, including founder of Yammer David Sacks, Mahalo founder Jason Calacanis, former Mashable editor Ben Parr, and 500 Startups.

Every week, employees complete a report that takes them no longer than 15 minutes to write, and no longer than 5 minutes for their manager to read. The reports include information about their successes, challenges, ideas, morale, and productivity. The mangers review and consolidate the reports, and then present them to the higher-ups who can use them to quickly gain a grasp of what happened in the workplace that week.

“Chouinard worked half a year and took the other half of the year to go climb mountains and surf,” Hassell said in an interview. “However, he still had to keep tabs on his company, so he had each employee create these 15-5 reports that would get bundled up the top to him. We put this method online.”

The goal is to give people at the top of the corporate structure more transparency and visibility into what is happening down below and draw a stronger connection between the various levels. Furthermore, the platform gives employees a greater sense of importance and efficacy within the company, and flattens the hierarchy. Hassell said the team put a strong emphasis on “elegant simplicity” in their design to make the user experience as seamless as possible.

15FIve presented at the Launch Conference in San Francisco in March of 2012. Sacks was  on the panel of judges, and according to Hassell, expressed interested in backing the company during the event. At the time, 15Five was not seeking funding but stayed in touch with Sacks. Now, the application has more robust features and an impressive roster of clients. Early adopters include TaskRabbit, TechStars, Getaround, Citrix, Warby Parker, Mahalo, USTREAM, Retargeted, and even the University of Michigan Medical School.

With this financing, 15Five will focus on building its 2.0 product and funnel resources into sales and marketing. 15Five is based in San Francisco.

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