Rising Stars: The Small Fry

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You can be small and still be social. Just ask BatchBlue Software, the makers of BatchBook, a social media–enabled CRM solution tailored expressly for small and midsize businesses (SMBs), the kinds of organizations that may otherwise lack the required technology resources. In short, BatchBlue can be seen simply as “SMB meets social—in a very good way,” says Ray Wang, a partner at Altimeter Group (another of this year’s Rising Stars; see the top of this page). “They’ve done a good job of elevating the CRM space in the SMB market.” 

“I’ve been watching [BatchBlue] for close to two years, and I’ve been impressed right from the beginning,” says Brent Leary, cofounder of consultancy CRM Essentials. “In that time they made a series of great moves to add value to their customers.” Leary notes not just an increase in functionality, but also the company’s efforts cofounding a vendor partnership known as The Small Business Web (SBW), joining the Google Apps Marketplace to extend its reach, and facilitating a weekly conversation on Twitter (under the hashtag #SBbuzz) that now has more than 20,000 followers. “These actions show a great understanding of social and CRM,” he says, “which shows up in the product, and in how they interact with their customers.”

The trick, perhaps, is that BatchBlue is an SMB itself. Founded in 2006 in Rhode Island, far from Silicon Valley’s madding crowds, BatchBlue launched BatchBook in 2007 as a simple online contact organizer. By 2009, when the company cofounded the SBW with four other SMB-oriented software providers, BatchBook had already expanded, but sharing application-programming interfaces enabled the integration of new and powerful functionalities, from MailChimp’s email marketing to the accounting strengths of FreshBooks.

What’s more, BatchBlue has a reputation for being responsive. Chris Brogan, president of New Marketing Labs (and one of CRM’s Influential Leaders in 2009), has praised the firm’s passion for users. “The people behind the product actually listen,” he once wrote. “They’re growing [it] slowly around expressed needs.” 

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