Businesses in Blue Ash have taken extraordinarily creative steps to overcome the challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic. In this Blue Ash Economic Development Business Spotlight Series, find out what these businesses have accomplished, why Blue Ash is the place for entrepreneurs and businesses to thrive, and why business owners still see a bright future ahead.
Q & A with Tarek Kamil, CEO of Cerkl
4424 Carver Woods Dr #103
Blue Ash, OH 45242
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about Cerkl and why you located in Blue Ash?
Cerkl is focused on modernizing how companies engage and retain employees. Our first product, Broadcast, brings a consumer-grade internal communication experience to the enterprise. What that means is employees are receiving what they need to know in the channel of their choice (e.g. email, SharePoint, mobile app, Microsoft Teams, etc.) and also what they want to know as each channel learns about each employee’s interests - just like Netflix and Amazon learn about you to personalize your experience as a consumer. We selected Blue Ash for a number of reasons - the cost of doing business, support from the City, centrally located to many of the top Universities in the state (talent). Blue Ash also has a vibrant business sector with a suburban feel, yet it has close access to Cincy. It is also an easy commute for our employees whether they live downtown, in Northern Kentucky or North (Mason, Lebanon, etc.). There are plenty of great restaurants/venues to entertain clients and hold staff get-togethers. Pre-COVID, our team often met up at various restaurants in and around Summit Park after work.
Q: How did the COVID-19 pandemic impact your business?
We’ve generated a lot of interest from many companies across several industries from technology, financial services, insurance, healthcare, CPG, and manufacturing. These companies reached out to learn more about Cerkl as this pandemic has shone a light on the need to find new solutions for internal communication to a remote workforce. We’re definitely seeing a trend in companies looking for modern employee communications experience beyond email. We know many other businesses are struggling during these unprecedented times so we do feel a real sense of gratitude that we’ve thrived. We’re fortunate to have had a record second quarter during a time when many industries have been tremendously challenged.
Q: What did you do? What adjustments did you have to make?
Beginning in mid-March, we encouraged our team to work remotely during a time when we were collectively the most busy. We had a historic amount of software development work to complete within a compressed timeline at the same time we were onboarding one of our largest clients. In addition, we were bringing two new product offerings to market - Cerkl Broadcast Mobile and Cerkl Broadcast Internet Notifications and Personalization. Not only did our teams need to stretch and display the drive to collaborate remotely, we also onboarded and trained new team members virtually. We really trusted and empowered our staff to bring fresh ideas for working remotely. We found the need to keep our close-knit company culture of team-building exercises in a remote setting. Our culture committee helped infuse fun during our stressful sprints with fun online game nights, trivia challenges and themed meetings.
Q: How is your company adapting to help employees work from home and to help working parents in this new environment?
We empower our employees to manage their work during flexible time frames. As long as they are productive and meet deadlines, they don’t have to keep a traditional business day schedule. When we provide flexibility and autonomy, we find our employees are more motivated to contribute to the success of the business.
Q: What’s next for your company? What do you think the future holds?
This is a pivotal time in the development of our company with the release of new product offerings, rebranding and landing two key global companies this past year. We’re focused on continuing to offer new enhancements to support the needs of large enterprises while growing our sales pipeline. We’ve been focused on strengthening our software infrastructure, our business operations, and certifications to continue business and staff growth.
Q: What advice would you give to other business owners facing COVID-19 challenges?
Business always dictates that the customer comes first, however, I think employees are vital to your business success. Now, more than ever, it’s important to listen to your employees and build a culture where innovation and ideas can be heard from those working in any role across the business. Whether you are retooling your operations, reopening or rebuilding, create an employee-first business. Empower your employees to help solve problems, own their work and find new ways to connect with customers.
Has your company had to create new products or services to meet your customers’ needs due to COVID-19? Email Economic Development Director Neil Hensley and your company could be featured in a future Blue Ash Business Spotlight.