Since smartphone sales eclipsed personal computers in 2011, entrepreneur Santiago Jaramillo has been obsessed with finding better ways to communicate and engage with people under the mobile-first mantra.

Santiago Jaramillo

Santiago JaramilloFounder and CEO

He founded a company called Bluebridge, surrounded himself with passionate fellow entrepreneurs, and quickly gained traction as a pioneer of mobile-apps-as-a-service — a flat-fee platform that provides regular updates to apps instead of the traditional project-based model, which can be expensive and become outdated just as soon as the apps are launched.

Today, Bluebridge is a global leader in “destination apps” with more than 600 unique mobile apps available for download in app stores, especially for tourism, cities and towns, churches and universities. The company employs 40 people in new Fishers, Ind. offices, and Jaramillo says Bluebridge is now focusing the past five years of apps business success and new capital investment on disrupting the employee engagement market, too.

Preparing to take on the new employee engagement market, Bluebridge acquired Cadence Consulting in February, adding former ExactTarget EVP of Administration, Todd Richardson, to the leadership staff as Bluebridge’s Chief People Officer. Richardson is charged with accelerating customer acquisition in the employee engagement space, as well as scaling the internal Bluebridge team to support its new initiatives.

Todd Richardson (left) has joined Bluebridge as Chief People Officer. He is focused on acquiring new customers and scaling the team to go after a lucrative new employee engagement market.
Todd Richardson (left) has joined Bluebridge as Chief People Officer. He is focused on scaling the team and acquiring new mobile employee engagement customers.

Disrupting Employee Engagement

In 2014, less than one-third of U.S employees were engaged in their jobs, with Millennials being the least engaged, according to Gallup’s daily tracking poll. While this is up slightly over previous years, two-thirds of employees are either “not actively engaged” or “actively disengaged” during their workday, which has serious repercussions on productivity and profitability for companies.

“We’re really at this cusp in the market where CEOs and leadership understand that employee engagement and culture is a strategic differentiator,” Jaramillo said. “Even though it’s one of the top challenges organizations must overcome, very few have a documented strategy for how to do it much less a purpose-built tool to measure and improve employee engagement.”

Gallup reports that improved employee engagement can decrease turnover rates by up to 50 percent, and Towers Watson Research found that companies with higher employee engagement scores also do better financially — up to three times more profitable in operating margin.

“Given the significant progress we’ve made with native branded mobile apps, we’re in a strong position to disrupt the future of work with mobile-first employee engagement. Employees are using their smartphones as a primary computing device, and business leaders are finding that mobile is a viable solution to engaging employees,” Jaramillo said.

Leveraging Mobile Success

Out of the nearly four hours per day workers spend on their mobile devices, 89 percent of that time is spent within mobile apps and 85 percent of mobile users prefer native apps over mobile web, according to a study by Flurry Insights.

This high demand for mobile interaction has primed workplace communities for the adoption of mobile employee engagement and opens a potential advantage for Bluebridge, whose apps have facilitated 14 million user sessions and six million push notifications, to date.

Bluebridge conducted a listening tour with 60 current and potential customers and identified six key challenges leaders face with employee engagement:

  • Employee Purpose and Alignment — Problem: Employees don’t know why they do what they do for 8-10 hours a day at work.
  • Strategy, Goals, and Objectives — Problem: Companies struggle to consistently drive focus towards their goals across the organization.
  • Internal Communication — Problem: Employers don’t have a way to “cut through the clutter” to effectively, instantly and contextually communicate with employees.
  • Employee Engagement Measurement — Problem: Employers don’t have leading indicator metrics and “people insights” to continually diagnose and improve employee engagement in a data-driven way.
  • Employee Directory — Problem: Employees don’t feel connected to each other.
  • Employee Content & Resources — Problem: Resources live in a number of places, causing employees to “hunt” for the information they need.

Through the process of acquiring early adopter customers, Bluebridge has proven out the theory that a branded company app can help with these problems. A centralized employee app home can replace more complex and labor intensive Intranets or unused Sharepoints that fail to meet the mobile-first demands of employees.


Bluebridge is already measuring employee audiences and helping its customers use analytics to make real-time changes rather than accepting the limitations of a yearlong lag with annual surveys.

“The ability to instantly engage 100 percent of employees with push notifications and track who opens what, and when, is a world apart from having a big annual meeting where goals and objectives are discussed and soon forgotten,” Jaramillo said.

The Mobile Engagement Platform

Bluebridge’s mobile engagement platform includes four distinct components that provide everything companies need to get up and running with an effective employee engagement program:

  1. Branded Mobile Apps (Where employees engage)
  2. Mobile App Studio (How leaders create engaging content)
  3. Mobile Messaging (The primary communication channel)
  4. Strategy & Success (“How-to” services)

Bluebridge is specifically targeting companies with between 50 and 5,000 employees for its employee engagement platform, and early results from customers like T2 Systems, Indiana Wesleyan University and Trendy Minds are very promising.

Bluebridge intends to write the book on mobile employee engagement, quite literally, through a recently inked book deal with Wiley Publishing. “What Hubspot did with inbound marketing is what we intend to do with our book and with our employee engagement customers — Bluebridge will be uniquely positioned to dominate employee engagement thought leadership,” Jaramillo said.

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