All posts by laurahofstee

Comparably: a mobile-first solution to bring transparency and equity in the workplace

We are all familiar with the struggles that can come with finding a new job. First, you have to choose a position and company, among the many alternatives out there in the marketplace. Once you made a selection, the long exhaustive selection procedures will take place. At the end, hopefully some of the companies you selected are willing to hire you. However, how do you really know what the best company to work for is? From the outside, a job may look perfect, but many factors, such as work culture and compensation, will only become apparent once you actually start working there. Luckily, Comparably offers the perfect solution to until recently still non-transparent market.

Comparably was founded in March 2016 by Jason Nazar, Yadid Ramot, Mike Sheridan & George Ishii. The founders were aiming at disrupting some of the many technological HR and job search tools by anticipating to the increasing demand in transparency in both culture and compensation within the working environment. Their online platform allows employees to anonymously report their salary, experience level, company location, company size and other aspects. In return, the platform automatically displays where the employee ranks compared to their peers with the same experience level and job position (Comparably, 2016).

Clearly, there are several other major players in the market that offer online HR and job search tools. The biggest competitors of Comparably are LinkedIn and Glassdoor, but Comparably is aiming at cracking the market for business intelligence dominated by Glassdoor and breaking the chain that LinkedIn has wrapped around the job-hunting process for HR professionals (TechCrunch, 2016). While LinkedIn is focusing on ongoing relationships with employees across their careers, Comparably offers a dashboard for (primarily already employed) would-be job seekers looking for a change. And Glassdoor offers analytics for employers, but what gives Comparably a competitive advantage is that the platform offers the ability to sort employees by gender, location, race and time spent at the company. In addition, Comparably beats competition by providing insights on areas where your company could improve (Comparably, 2012).

Business Model Evaluation
The workplace culture review platform serves as social enterprise which survival depends on the added value for both ends of the platform. The two-sided network delivers joint profitability by allowing employees on one side to publicly rate their companies and see how much their peers are getting paid and on the other side, offering companies a variety of HR related tools. For employees and job-seekers, Comparably offers the advantage of having detailed rankings of a company’s culture (including very sensitive topics as discrimination and harassment). For employers, the platform is assisting with recruiting a better workforce and providing opportunities to see how their company culture is ranked and how this can be improved.

Although Comparably only employs 12 people, the platform supports over 1500 companies, including AirBNB, Twitter, Uber, Paypal and Netflix. Each company owns its own corporate profile page and maintains it as a manner to communicate with potential job-seekers. For now, the tool is free to use for employers and Comparably’s business model is dependent on investors. However, the company has plans to change this in the future (Nazar, 2016).

Regarding the institutional environment, the platform is subject to threat of misrepresenting information of companies and fraudulent activity (e.g. automated methods for ranking, phishing). From employees’ perspective, there might be the fear of privacy issues, since the information they provide to the platform is highly sensitive. To ensure correct and true information, the platform requires each participant to sign the Terms of Service (including terms & conditions regarding acceptable use of the platform). In addition, to guarantee privacy, the company adopts a ‘Privacy Policy’ which can be found on the website and application.

Future prospects
Considerably is an innovative company which raised over $12M in financing and is extensively covered in press by e.g. TechCrunch, LA Times and Fortune Magazine. The company was launched in March 2016 with a compensation data tool and 2 months later already added candidate matching, job postings and a company review feature. With their latest addition, their culture analytics dashboard, Comparably captures a huge competitive advantage and has the ability to defeat competition. / blow competition away.

Carson, B. (2016). The 27 best startups that launched this year. From: [Accessed 7 March 2017].

Carson, S. J., Devinney, T. M., Dowling, G. R., & John, G. (1999). Understanding Institutional Designs Within Marketing Value Systems. Journal of Marketing, 115-130.

Comparably (2016). Find Your Ideal Company & Compensation. From: [Accessed: 7 March 2017].

Crunchbase (2017). Comparably. From: [Accessed: 7 March 2017].

Dickey, M.R., (2016). Comparably’s new tool lets companies see how their culture stacks up against the competition’s. From: [Accessed 8 March 2017].

Shieber, J. (2017). Challenging job search and HR giants, Comparably raises $7.25M. From: [Accessed: 8 March 2017].

Tsekouras, D. (2017). ‘Lecture 1: Introduction to Value Co-creation. Customer-centric Digital Commerce, Rotterdam School of Management [Accessed: 7 March 2017].


Laurel & Wolf brings interior design into the digital age

Ever felt like changing your interior but no time and experience to do it yourself? Worried that it becomes too expensive when allowing stylists design your space? Inspired by all the inspirational boards and images of designs popping up on websites like Pinterest and Instagram? No matter what the exact reason may be, Laurel & Wolf offers the perfect solution for all your designer needs at affordable prices.

Laurel & Wolf – What is it?
L&W, founded in 2014, took advantage of the increasing popularity in interior design, while at the same time recognizing the cost and effort involved in finding and hiring a designer. Due to the traditional pricing system of interior design services, 98% of people could not afford them and L&W found a way to change this radically (L&W, 2017). The company transformed the entire interior design industry by launching their online platform, connecting professional designers with customers, allowing them to design tailored interiors for commercial and residential spaces (Perez, 2015). The platform offers access to worldwide high-quality design partners in return for a one-time flat fee from its customers. As such, the company makes professional interior design available to all.

How does it work?
L&W provides a platform whereby designers can participate in projects demanded by customers. The platform includes communication tools for interaction between designers and customers, and third party manufacturers can offer their products and services to both parties. Customers pay a flat fee and provide personal information to the platform including a style quiz, marking highly desired items and photos of their space (i.e. passive information-based individualization). In return, the platform provides customers with around six 2D digital style boards from professional stylists who created personalized designs for their space (Perez, 2015). From those style boards, customers can select their favorite, and interact directly with the respective stylist to add modifications (i.e. active consumer involvement).

The final result is a shopping list which includes all items of the preferred digital style board (including modifications). This shopping list fits into the indicated budget of the customer.

Efficiency Criteria
L&W is a two-sided personalized platform connecting designers to customers seeking a new, but affordable design (Rysman, 2009). This value system is considered efficient since it maximizes joint profitability of both parties involved (Carson et al., 1999). On the customer side, their unmet need is utilized by allowing for easy, efficient and low cost designs. Customers get served with a small number of designed inspiration boards based on their indicated preferences which reduces choice overload and thus increases efficiency. Moreover, time effort is reduced by using an online platform instead of the need to manually browse and look for design websites or shops. Last, by paying a relatively low, flat flee and indicating a maximum budget on shopping items, costs are minimized. From the designers’ perspective, designers get access to a new customer base, enhancing their career prospects. A designers’ profession can be highly insecure in terms of working opportunities and the L&W platform provides a constant stream of customers. Revenue for the L&W platform is generated by 20% of the flat design fee paid by customers and through affiliate revenues on online sales (Perez, 2015).

Regarding the institutional arrangements, it is important for the platform to guarantee high-quality designs. To assure this, designers are screened and evaluated extensively before being allowed to join the platform. In addition, the platform offers the ability for customers to rate and review designers. Assessing the legal institutional environment, the platform is subject to the threat of misuse of intellectual property. Customers might take advantage of other designers’ work and present it as if it is theirs. To circumvent this, the platform grants intellectual property rights (IPRs) as protection against the creators of designs by letting each participant in the platform sign an ‘End User License Agreement and Terms of Service’ (L&W, 2017). As such, interests between the designers and wider public are balanced and creativity is stimulated (WIPO, 2016).

What’s in it for the Future?
Currently, only 2 years after its foundation, the company grew to over 60 employees with a marketplace of more than 1,000 interior designers. The company is named as one of Business Insider’s ‘Los Angeles Start-ups to Watch’ and published in magazines as Forbes and TechCruch Inc (L&W, 2017). Clearly, L&W has disrupted the traditional model of the interior design industry and this is only yet beginning to pay off..


Carson, S. J., Devinney, T. M., Dowling, G. R., & John, G. (1999). Understanding Institutional Designs Within Marketing Value Systems. Journal of Marketing, 115-130.

Laurel & Wolf (2017). About Us. From: [Accessed: February 25, 2017].

Laurel & Wolf (2017). End User License Agreement and Terms of Service. From: [Accessed: February 26, 2017].

Rysman, M. (2009). The Economics of Two-Sided Markets. Journal of Economic Perspectives, Vol 23 (3), pp. 125-143.

Tsekouras, D. (2017). ‘Lecture 1: Introduction to Value Co-creation. Customer-centric Digital Commerce, Rotterdam School of Management [Accessed: 1 March 2017].

World Intellectual Property Rights Organization (2017). About Intellectual Property. From: [Accessed: 26 February, 2017].


Encouraging and rewarding consumer creativity: How to motivate consumers involved in creative contests?

Brands increasingly rely on creativity contests to integrate consumers into their new product developments processes. The main purpose is to stimulate creativity of internal marketing teams or quickly trigger original ideas for their brands. Not surprisingly, much of recent research is focused on the determinants of success and creativity in those innovation contests.

A study by Salgado & Barnier (2016) seeks to determine the effects of rewards, brand feedback and its interactions on creativity in innovation contests. The research focuses on the first stage of the new product development process, since this is argued to be the most critical stage in the entire innovation process (Hauser et al., 2006). To test their hypotheses, an experiment is carried out with respondents participating in a mock innovation contest. Within the general model, the reward and brand feedback variables are manipulated such that causal relations can be proven (Evrard et al., 2010).

The authors find that brand feedback acts as a moderator on rewards and creativity, and association of brand feedback with reputation rewards strongly stimulates creative designs. The paper highlights that extrinsic rewards (monetary and non-monetary) do not reduce, but instead improve creativity when they are accompanied with brand feedback. Besides, the effect of the choice of rewards is not neutral, but entails different impacts on creativity and therefore should be considered wisely.

The main strength of this paper is its relevance from both a managerial and theoretical standpoint. On the managerial level, the research provides practitioners with insights into the incentives that encourage participation and creativity in producing desired results. Therefore, the nature of rewards offered by brands (monetary and non-monetary) should be taken into consideration when designing an optimal consumer integration process in new product development. Especially for large ‘unblind’ co-creation platforms, where designs are not visible and feedback is rare, restructuring their model may be considered to generate additional creativity. From a theoretical standpoint, this study bridges the longstanding research gap with respect to reward effects on creativity in the context of an innovation competition. Currently, there exists a paradox between academic literature, which emphasize the wide range of participants’ intrinsic and extrinsic motivations in creative contests and managerial practices, which mainly focus on monetary rewards. This research solves this paradox by addressing both factors.

As a downside, the authors did not take into consideration the potential interactions between intrinsic and extrinsic motivations, which could have influenced the impact on the expected creativity level. The paper finds that extrinsic motivations are ‘at the service’ of intrinsic motivations, since extrinsic motivations have no negative effect on creativity when associated with feedback, but intrinsic motivations play a determining role in the accomplishment of creative designs. However, the level of intrinsic motivation is dependent on individual traits and therefore dynamic effects can exist between intrinsic motivation and the effect of rewards. Future research should focus on investigating the interactions between intrinsic and extrinsic motivations. As a last note, I would suggest to include the impact of culture on creative designs. A study by Chua et al. (2014), proposed that creativity heavily depends on ‘cultural narrowness’ and therefore the impact of country origin could have an influence on participation and creativity in an innovation contest. What effect do you think country origin has on this relationship? And what role would brand feedback play in this relationship?

Chua RYJ, Roth Y and Lemoine J-F (2014) The impact of culture on creativity: How cultural tightness and cultural distance affect global innovation crowd- sourcing work. Administrative Science Quarterly 20(10): 1–39

Evrard, Y., Pras, B. and Roux E (2010). ) Market: Études et recherches en marketing, 4e édition. Dunod. Dunod.

Hauser, J.R. Tellis, G.J. and Griffin, A. (2006) Research on innovation: A review and agenda for marketing science. Marketing Science, 25(6), 687–717.

Salgado, S. and Barnier, V. (2016). Encouraging and rewarding consumer creativity in new product development processes: How to motivate consumers involved in creative contests? Recherche et Applications en Marketing, 31(3), 88-110.