Chris Heaslip of Leadr

An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with Chris Heaslip (co-founder and Executive Chairman) of Leadr, which was honored in our:
Tell us the origin story of Leadr – what problem were you trying to solve and why?

It all started when I co-founded Pushpay, the original online giving platform, which grew rapidly from $1 million to over $100 million in revenue in just four years. During the process of building that company, and reflecting on it after, I discovered something about how we ran things, and that became the roots for Leadr. 

In short, we learned that for too long we led our people the wrong way. It wasn’t about balance sheets, investments, or even going public. It was about the relationship between managers and employees. When we shifted away from the traditional methods of people management, and instead took the approach of people development, that’s when the company truly took off. 

We have project management tools for managing projects, and CRM tools for managing customer relationships, but we don’t have any tools that give us insights into our staff, how they’re doing, and where problems exist that we can identify proactively.

Leadr became that tool. And it’s become even more essential as trends like “The Great Resignation” and “Quiet Quitting” have turned businesses on their heads and created an employee-driven market. If we want to develop this next generation, we have to connect with them in new ways.

At the end of the day, Leadr helps teams build a people playbook by following the best practices of the 5 foundations of people development in order to engage and retain their staff.

What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?

The number one challenge every leader faces is people. Either we don’t have the right people for the challenges we are currently facing, or the people we have are not developing fast enough to get to where we want them to be.

The number one job of a leader is building a team of the right people and creating a culture which removes obstacles from high performers that allow them to focus on doing their job. This reaps benefits on an individual and team level, and ultimately impacts your bottom line.

What does the future hold for Leadr?

Leadr has grown rapidly over the last few years from less than a million of revenue to over $6 million today. We’re excited to continue to build out the platform with additional tools to help managers lead their people better, such as surveys, recognition, and integrations with other platforms.

In this new world of work, with all the challenges of navigating between hybrid and remote teams, as well as different generations of employees, the challenge managers face to operate high performance teams is only getting harder.

Additionally, the old form of management simply doesn’t work anymore. We have to shift our thinking from managing people to developing them. This means setting clear goals, creating a culture of feedback, implementing effective 1:1 meetings, and creating customized development pathways for every person on the team.

As managers pour more and more into their employees, each person on the team is able to thrive in their role.

What are your thoughts on the local tech startup scene in Plano?

Plano is a fantastic place to run a startup. The people in DFW are fantastic, but amongst VC’s, it remains a contrarian choice of location to build a business. VC’s are focused on the Bay Area, Austin, and Miami, but in our experience, those areas are incredibly expensive and there is a lot of competition for talent.

The quality of life and cost of living is why you’re seeing large companies like CBRE and Caterpillar, and others like Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan, expanding their offices here.

As startup teams continue to shift towards remote and hybrid work, Plano will become increasingly more attractive for the in-office based roles.

What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?

My mentor taught me that business isn’t about what you can get, it’s about the value you can provide and how you can make a difference in other people’s lives. If you help your customers become successful by resourcing them with a tool they have a felt need for, you will become successful as a byproduct.

Solving a problem that exists and charging appropriately for the service is at the heart of every great business. We have to remember that every customer is actually a real person with a problem that they need our help to solve. That’s when we center ourselves on the correct things, and the path forward, as well as the things we need to do to solve the problems of our customers, become increasingly more clear.


For more exclusive interviews, see our full Profile of a Founder series