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Benjamin Lesage and Martha Cavazos are both part of the Sustainable Ocean Alliance (SOA) team, a nonprofit organization founded in 2014 and based in San Francisco, which develops leaders, cultivates ideas and accelerates solutions to preserve the ocean’s health and sustainability globally. SOA’s programs are aligned with the targets of United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 14, which aims at conserving the ocean and sustainably using marine resources.
Benjamin is passionate about oceans and an expert in technology and innovation. He joined SOA as a mentor in 2018 and then became Global Coordinator in 2020 with the aim of expanding SOA’s global footprint outside California by developing a community of entrepreneurs and ocean analysts, mainly focusing on Europe.
Martha has been managing SOA’s Oceans Solutions Accelerator since 2020. The goal of this program is to accelerate solutions for global entrepreneurs and organizers to heal the oceans and create a more sustainable future for our planet. Martha designs and facilitates remote and in-person experiences in order to create global networks of changemakers.
See how Martha and Ben from SOA were able to encourage further engagement in online meetings with Klaxoon:
In the middle of the pandemic, Martha and Ben had to run the 2020 edition of the start-up accelerator program remotely and chose Klaxoon as a solution for collaborative remote working in order to make online meetings fully efficient and participative.
Prior to COVID-19, the SOA accelerator program was conducted both remotely and in person and included a lot of one-to-one meetings, roundtables and networking, as well as field expeditions, with the aim of meeting as many people as possible and creating strong, long-lasting relationships. In 2020, Ben and Martha had to face the challenge of running more than 35 different sessions remotely, over a 4-week period, with more than 20 entrepreneurs and 9 start-ups from 7 different countries, both in the US and Europe, working from various time zones, and at the same time making these virtual meetings as engaging as in-person ones.
To complicate matters further, the SOA team was also working remotely from various locations around the world. This pushed them to explore tools that could help them to build and nurture connections with their mentors and investors, as well as supporting their team throughout the online event.
Ben had come across Klaxoon at CES a few years before, where he had had the chance to meet the Klaxoon’s team, and hear about their remarkable success at making meetings more efficient and work practices more collaborative. When Ben introduced Klaxoon to SOA, his colleagues responded with great enthusiasm and it only took them two or three sessions to be fully onboard.
Weekly meetings gather all the team members, once a week. They give the opportunity to each member to share ideas and establish future actions, thereby helping everyone to synchronize.
In preparation for the start-up accelerator program, Ben decided to create a template for the SOA team, which included five people working from three different time zones, by using the Weekly Template available in the Klaxoon Library. This was then further developed and customized based on their needs.
The Klaxoon Board is an easy-to-use tool allowing visual collaboration in a single workspace, which can be accessed from any location, using a library of ready-to-use templates, i.e. methods, tables or patterns inspired by industry standards, agile methods and best practices from the Klaxoon community. Every template provides the user with a preview, a general overview and step-by-step instructions on how to use it so that it can be easily implemented and customized even without any prior knowledge of that method. This allows businesses to work with a tailor-made tool without having to create one from scratch, thereby managing meetings and projects more efficiently and visually engaging their audience.
During the accelerator program, the Weekly template supported the SOA team in running internal online meetings, which were held on Mondays (at the start of the week) and Fridays (to prepare the week ahead), in order to set priorities and address the needs raised by entrepreneurs throughout the 4-week virtual program.
The weekly update meetings would start with a “Personal update” from each member of the team (2 minutes each) which aimed at establishing the top priorities for that week. Using a wide range of categories, colors and themes offered by the Klaxoon template toolbar, each member was able to visually organize ideas and create a to-do list to be shared with the rest of the team.
The second activity of the meeting consisted in a “Feedback review” (3 minutes each), during which the SOA team identified questions, needs and expectations of the entrepreneurs in order to respond as quickly as possible.
The accelerator program is very intensive and we have to make sure to react very quickly to questions or needs from start-ups. Benjamin Lesage, global coordinator, SOA
Martha points out how important it is from an organizational point of view to have a template with a clear visual separation between the Personal update (i.e. the actions) and the Feedback review (i.e. positive/negative feedback) “so that we could distinguish between what are some of the objectives, like creating our run of show, making our demo day videos, versus we got great feedback on the introductions that we’re making, and that’s something that we want to track”.
The Klaxoon tools, such as post-its, were flexible and easy-to-use and enabled the team to generate ideas and respond promptly, thereby creating a more refined and efficient design thinking approach.
Klaxoon also improved time management: the fact that the accelerator program included so many sessions and rounds in a limited amount of time made timing fundamental, and Martha points out that having a timer already integrated into the system was a simple yet essential feature.
Klaxoon promotes efficiency. […] We are able to adjust and pivot and be agile and flexible. […] It’s like a mental game. Martha Cavazos, Accelerator Program Manager, SOA
During the accelerator program, every Friday, Ben and Martha would run a reflection meeting with the start-up founders: this was a free space in which the founders could share their thoughts and have “off-the-record” conversations about the week that was coming to an end. This would offer them the chance to think about the contents, speakers and sessions of the week in order to apply them to their business.
The Klaxoon templates helped SOA to make this reflective moment more visual and interactive. Although the templates could change every week, the structure was always the same: they would start with an “Icebreaker” (e.g. “Your week in one word”), followed by “Anchors and buoys” (difficulties and positive elements of the week); then they would go on with a “Retrospective framework” and end with “One main takeaway”, i.e. one action for the week ahead.
During the retrospective workshop, participants would gather ideas as a group and then use them to go into break-out rooms for one-to-one conversations. “The feature with Klaxoon where we could keep it anonymous for the purpose of reflection, or we had the opportunity to invite folks to customize their post-its as well, also allowed us to get more creative,” says Martha.
The use of this kind of format and board allowed SOA to offer entrepreneurs time for individual reflection, group reflection and one-to-one reflection. “One of the best practises in facilitation is to actually address all of those different types of learning and reflection needs for individuals”, Martha explains.
Thanks to Klaxoon we were able to facilitate that sense of connection and commitment to further engagement with our mentors, investors and SOA team. Martha Cavazos, Accelerator Program Manager, SOA
The reflection meeting would always end with one main takeaway, during which the SOA team would use Klaxoon to synthesize the key learnings of the week and ask participants to select one of their most memorable ideas/moments/speakers in order to offer a sense of conclusion to the virtual meetings.
It was definitely during these meetings that we created connections. That’s also the moment when we were able to know more about their personalities and their personal life as well. It’s very important. Ben Lesage, Global Coordinator, SOA
By implementing Klaxoon in their webinars, SOA managed to achieve 100% engagement and participation and avoid the so-called “Zoom fatigue” typical of remote sessions.
During some of the webinars, Ben and Martha noticed signs of fatigue from participants and realized it was always the same people asking questions. Therefore, they decided to launch an empty Klaxoon Board where people could write their questions: this allowed even shyer members of the group, who would not necessarily have the courage to speak in public, to have a dedicated space in which to share their doubts, thus increasing participation and responsiveness.
Martha explains that with Klaxoon’s full suite of simple and engaging collaborative tools, entrepreneurs had the chance to pause, take notes, brainstorm and collect ideas, making the workspace more vibrant but also efficient. Virtual meetings had the advantage of being personal and at the same time anonymous, thereby allowing participants to discuss both personal and business-sensitive topics, and increasing their engagement.
The Klaxoon boards also improved the team’s internal organization, providing them with a fluid, personalized workflow, which allowed them to track boards, understand priorities, feedback and needs and to easily and visually categorize those needs in order to be able to respond.
Klaxoon facilitates for you. Martha Cavazos, Accelerator Program Manager, SOA
The use of the Klaxoon templates also enabled SOA to talk about remote working and actually show start-up founders how to run colourful yet efficient online meetings: with the COVID crisis and everyone having to work remotely, these are matters of topical interest, which helped participants to connect and feel even more involved. “As a start-up accelerator, we are here to open the eyes of the founders on key topics for them to accelerate their business,” says Ben.
It was great to have Klaxoon as a partner of the program and giving a keynote on that topic. Ben Lesage, Global Coordinator, SOA
Make your online meetings more colourful, engaging and efficient and enable participants to fully connect with Klaxoon!