TinyPulse founder David Niu (right) spent six months abroad with his family, interviewing business owners and learning all about people management, culture and leadership.

Before a startup can get off the ground, entrepreneurs spend long hours analyzing data, reviewing processes and ensuring that there is a profitable need for the business.

David Niu, however, did his research a little differently.

Niu, the co-founder of NetConversions and BuddyTV, sold everything, stored the rest of his belongings in storage and bought one-way tickets to New Zealand for his wife Alice and 10-month old daughter Keira. For the next six months, seven cities and 15 countries of the “careercation,” Niu sat down with several business owners — a wine maker in Auckland, a fruit trader in Shanghai, a financial consultant in Seoul — all in hopes of finding out the best practices and pain points when it came to people management, culture and leadership.

And thus the birth of Niu’s newest project, TinyPulse.

“At the end of my interviews, I would ask them, ‘What’s one pain point you have in managing people, that if I took away, you would gladly pay for?'” Niu explained. “Their answers helped flesh out and inspire TINYpulse.”

Niu founded TinyHR after spending years struggling with employee morale, and TinyPulse is the company’s first offering. After hearing from the entrepreneurs abroad and using his own experience with employee performance reviews, Niu created TinyPulse to give leaders a pulse on how happy, burnt out and frustrated their employees are.

He found that there were common themes throughout his interviews. Business owners seemed to struggle with three common things: employees quitting out-of-the-blue, obtaining feedback on how to improve culture and giving the right kind of recognition to good workers.

TinyPulse isn’t your typical end-of-the-year survey emailed out to all employees. It works like this: Once a week, employees are pinged with one anonymous question like, “How happy are you at work?” or, “If you had to describe your company as an animal, what animal would it be and why?”

TinyPulse digests the data and administrators can easily gauge the happiness levels of people at work. In addition to this, employees can also give “Cheers for Peers,” to colleagues that deserve appreciation. Bosses have the ability to send back all this information to employees so they know their opinion matters.

“It’s packaging it together in a simple way,” Niu explained. “Management sees trends and insights on a regular basis without having to worry about manually running the program.”

One happy customer is Buuteeq, an online marketing platform and content management system which powers the websites of more than 4,000 independent hotels across the globe. TinyPulse has helped the company improve workplace morale and implemented changes like better phone sound quality for the sales staff and subsidized public transportation cards. Buuteeq employees even gather around on Friday afternoons to read aloud the Cheers for Peers.

“TinyPulse has had a HUGE impact on how the employees of buuteeq communicate with one another, handle sensitive matters and maintain a strong company culture in an ever-changing industry and world,” writes Karen Salazar in this blog post.

TinyPulse operates on a SaaS-based model and companies pay based on the number of users they have. For the first 15 employees, TinyHR charges $29 a month. For up to 50, it charges $79 a month. And for up to 100 users, it charges $149 a month.

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[Editor’s note: GeekWire shares office space with Buuteeq at its Ballard world headquarters].

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  • Tim

    Cool video. Who did it?

    • http://twitter.com/TINYpulse TINYpulse

      Video was done by Killerinfographics.com. Amy and the team did a fantastic job – plus they are local :)

      • Amy @ Killer Infographics

        Thanks for the shout out David! We had a blast creating the video and have a blast every Wednesday answering the TINYpulse question of the week! Not only does it really improve things for the team, it also allows us to add in some humor to our busy weeks and everyone really looks forward to it!

        • http://twitter.com/TINYpulse TINYpulse

          Of course, Killer Infographics also does awesome regular and video infographics!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=710085987 Matt Hulett

    I am using TINYhr at GameHouse and love it. David is onto a big idea with his new company.

  • http://twitter.com/TINYpulse TINYpulse

    Thanks Matt! We really enjoy working with you and your team at GameHouse. To happier employees!

  • Pradeep Chauhan

    I love how easy it is going to be for them to identify potential customers

  • http://www.facebook.com/jameswongseattle James Wong

    Congrats David on a rock solid idea and flawless execution. TinyPulse is the virtual “suggestion box” I’ve always wanted for Avidian and even better. I think David is onto something big here and that every employer who cares about their culture needs to seriously look at.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=704711712 Peter Chee

    Congrats David! I’ve been using TINYpulse for thinkspace over the last 3 months now and it’s provided insight and visibility that I’ve never had before about how happy my employees are working here. It’s easy for me to think things are great because that might be how I feel, but, for employees it’s a different angle and *surprisingly* they don’t see everything exactly the way I do.

    I think this is good for any size company and basically should be used by any leader who manages people and cares about building a strong company culture. You might be surprised by how honest employees will be when given the platform to be able to speak out. It also reduces the chance to be blindsided by employees if you spend the time to listen and read their virtual suggestions.

  • http://www.facebook.com/KarenSSalazar Karen Salazar

    Thanks for the great article Taylor. TINYpulse is such a simple yet powerful tool that adds tremendous value to a company’s culture, as you’ve seen firsthand at the buuteeq office–Friday afternoons, at the end of the day, you would expect everyone to be burnt out but the level of energy is incredible when we go through TINYpulse results and read the cheers aloud. A software that can help a company with the humanistic side of HR is pretty remarkable!

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