Brian de Haaff and Dr. Chris Waters founded Aha! in the spring of 2013 in Menlo Park, California. Together, we have founded or been early employees of six cloud-based technology companies and have a total of 16 issued patents. Our last two ventures were acquired by well-known public companies.
We knew that people were struggling to set clear business strategy and connect it to the work of building products that customers love. There was an opportunity to take everything we had learned doing the same and build a product that would help people set goals and initiatives and connect them to the execution.
We wanted to do something different, something true. We did not want to build just another software company. We wanted to build an exceptionally high-quality product and create a place where people would love to work. And we wanted to allow people to work from where they were happiest — we are still a distributed company today.
We were well acquainted with the startup model that had been celebrated in Silicon Valley since the mid-1990s, and we knew there had to be a better way to fund our vision than chasing venture capital and trying to manufacture scale with no substance. We self-funded the business and aimed to be profitable fast.
It was immediately obvious that others shared our vision. Product managers and company builders everywhere were looking for a better way to build what customers really wanted and enjoy their own work at the same time.
We thoughtfully crafted the first version of Aha! and started a closed, invitation-only Beta. During the early access program, we spoke with and demonstrated Aha! to more than 500 product development teams. We ended the Beta program in the fall of 2014 and signed up 125 paying enterprise customers within four months. We were profitable and on our way.
As Aha! rapidly became the obvious choice for product builders around the world, we wanted to share the philosophy behind our interactions with customers — the engine driving our success.
In July 2014, we codified a framework for personal and business success named The Responsive Method (TRM). TRM is centered around the belief that interactions with urgency are what propel people and organizations forward. It is a simple way to have mutually beneficial interactions.
In April 2017, we explained our philosophy in more detail when Brian published a bestselling book about our people-first approach to business. Drawing on his experience founding successful technology companies and creating award-winning products, Lovability reveals how to build a business that people love and be happy doing it.
We are proud of what we have created. And we are humbled when others recognize our accomplishments as well. Aha! is #143 on the 2018 Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing private companies in the U.S and #13 of all software companies. Aha! ranked #50 on Deloitte’s 2018 Technology Fast 500™. We received the distinction of Company of the Year in the Stevie Awards’ American Business Awards. And we were included on the Inc. Best Workplaces list.
These prestigious awards — along with many others — recognize our tremendous growth and human-centered approach to business. We built what we call a grandpa-inspired company that was highly profitable from the start with no venture funding, no office, and no salespeople.
It is clear that Aha! is making a difference for real people — that has been our goal from the beginning. Our ideas are ambitious. But making them a reality has been an awe-inspiring adventure.
We hope you will join us and help us write the next chapter of Aha! history.