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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.

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

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