A Pandemic Success Story

When the pandemic and calls for social justice left companies ready to rethink the workplace, Amanda Greenberg, founder of Balloon, was there to help them source new ideas.

When the pandemic hit last spring, businesses from Fortune 500 companies to mom and pop shops needed to source innovative ideas for working remotely. Amanda Greenberg, D’07, Founder and CEO of Balloon, had a tool to help facilitate those conversations. 

“Our customers, overnight, became super users of the product,” Greenberg says. 

Then, a few months later the national reckoning over the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor made many companies interested in amplifying diverse voices. Again, Greenberg and Balloon offered a solution. 

“We saw a huge jump in usage,” Greenberg said. 

Balloon is a platform that companies can use to gather feedback and insight, and unlock new ideas. Balloon offers a new, more effective way of thinking about team meetings. Companies can design a set of open-ended questions, known as flights. Flights pose quandaries, solicit solutions and gather votes from team members and potential customers. They are completed individually and anonymously, either at the same time or asynchronously. The information from the flights is then compiled into a report that allows management to see top insights, priority lists, and where there is consensus, or lack thereof.

The result is a more candid picture of employee opinions. Research has shown that 80% of the insight gathered via Balloon is entirely new, and that using the process can reduce meeting times by up to 70%. 

Greenberg knew well before the pandemic that the work she was doing on Balloon was important. She founded the company with her husband, Noah Bornstein, and went all-in on the business, even moving in with family while they focused on growing Balloon. 

“When you’re bootstrapped, you learn so much,” Greenberg said of those early days. 

Then, in August 2019, Balloon closed a seed round of funding. When the pandemic began a few months later, Greenberg realized that Balloon was more valuable than ever. 

“There has never been a better time to build this company,” she said. The transition to hybrid work meant that companies needed a way to keep a finger on the pulse of their employees and customers. At the same time, leaders wanted to elevate voices of women, people of color, and others who may be hesitant to express their opinions in person. 

For years, Greenberg had been working to define a new category to users; but in 2020, the premise that Balloon was offering became crystal clear. 

“We don’t have to make the case any more — people get it,” Greenberg said. 

With the concept proven, Greenberg and her team set to expanding Balloon. They made the product more accessible to users, and began working with well-known business leaders like Kat Cole, Arlan Hamilton and Adam Grant to develop templates for flights. Using the templates, “you know that you’re asking your teams the right questions,” Greenberg explains. 

Throughout the pandemic, Greenberg was conscious of the fact that Balloon was thriving, at a time when many businesses were struggling. Amid that, she focused on using the product to provide the best possible outcome for customers, she said. 

She and Noah have also had to navigate launching a business, together, while also raising their children. Their first child was born just as Balloon was beginning, and their second was born in April of 2020. Raising two young kids and running a company, Greenberg has pushed aside the concept of work-life balance as a perfect equilibrium. 

“For us, it’s more important to have everything that we love. Growing the company and having a great family are both things that we’re passionate about. We ebb and flow to make it work,” she said. 

Now, Greenberg is focused on expanding Balloon, with demand for the product stronger than ever. This year, she is focused on growth, including expanding the number of templates that Balloon offers. 

“There’s never been a better, more necessary time for voices to be amplified in the workplace and beyond, for leaders to be informed, and to have all the resources and ideas available to them,” Greenberg said. “We can be more productive in the new working world. Companies and teams are being really thoughtful in what this return looks like, and that’s where Balloon comes in.”