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Bluebridge adds former ExactTarget exec, expands focus

February 10, 2016

Fishers-based mobile app company Bluebridge LLC has added a former ExactTarget executive to its top brass, a move aimed at helping it tackle what it believes is a vastly undeserved employee-engagement market.

Bluebridge said Wednesday that it picked up Todd Richardson, the former executive vice president of administration at ExactTarget, after acquiring his firm Cadence Consulting LLC for an undisclosed price. Richardson, who's won acclaim for the culture he helped craft at ExactTarget, is now chief people officer at Bluebridge.

"I'm going to have an internal focus, where I'm going to, hopefully, reproduce the kind of magic that we had at ExactTarget," Richardson said, adding that he also plans to lend his expertise to drive success with Bluebridge's new market push.

Founded in 2011, Bluebridge made a name for itself selling software that allowed tourism bureaus and churches to create and manage mobile apps for their external audiences.

The 40-employee outfit isn't ditching those markets, but rather expanding its focus to help companies use mobile apps to engage with a different kind of audience—employees.

"We have an app for our friends with Facebook. We have an app for professional connections with LinkedIn. We have an app for fitness," said Bluebridge founder and CEO Santiago Jaramillo. "But most of us don't have any work app."

"Having a single work 'app home' for the employee, that's ultimately what we want to create," he said.

Richardson was a one-man band at Cadence, though he did employ a network of contractors and boasted clients including Gannett Co. and Pittsburgh-based Branding Brand. He led employee-engagement workshops, among other things, and booked roughly $1 million in annual contracts in only nine months in business.

Richardson was one of the first investors in Bluebridge, but he did not hold a board seat there and had no say in Bluebridge's acquisition decisions, he said. The deal for his company was an all-stock transaction, he said.

Bluebridge's new push was sparked by its employees, who last year figured the company should deploy its app-making prowess internally.

The company then built a "Bridgelife" app, which featured an onboarding guide, health and wellness information, a staff directory and a suggestion box. To get its employees to download it, the company hosted an ice-cream social and an in-app scavenger hunt.

Richardson, who first met Jaramillo when the Bluebridge chief worked as an  ExactTarget intern in 2010, kept in contact with him over the years. But as the Bridgelife initiative gained steam, the two began chatting earnestly about ways to scale the concept for other firms.

The two ultimately figured it made sense to join forces.

"I'm on to something with employee engagement and culture, and you have this platform that's already proven out," Richardson said, recalling a conversation with Jaramillo.

"The world is really going the way of mobile devices, and employers and employees haven't learned how to leverage smartphones in the business."

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