Major projects and issues facing any startup or fast-growing company require cross-functional decisions that impact and reverberate throughout the organization without any native systems to facilitate those exploration, consensus-building, decision-making and implementation processes.
Big Surf Communications (“Big Surf”) connects, explores, clarifies, and guides our clients to choose and implement actions to move their projects down the critical path both faster and more collaboratively.
Please see below the results we achieved in just 6 weeks working with select start-up companies at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management during November and December 2016:
Start-up Company within UCLA’s Anderson School of Management’s BCO program in the snack creation and delivery business for office workers seeking healthier high protein alternatives. When Big Surf arrived, Office Bites had a defined mission and many moving parts that included menu development, marketing focus, user experience and product assembly.
After the initial 2-hour workshop and 5 weekly 90 minute sessions with Big Surf, the company advanced to launching its first beta delivery to 30 customers with a fully defined initial menu, a developing website and a clear point of view on the market they seek to serve as well as the prospects they believe will most likely become office champions for their service.
Office Bites not only credits Big Surf with supercharging their movement along the critical path to launching their beta trial, they noted we also improved teamwork and communication among the 4-person management team.
Start-up Company within UCLA’s Anderson School of Management’s BCO program in the Infant-to-toddler accessories market. When Big Surf arrived, Bambula had identified its first product as an infant activity gym for millennial mothers.
After an initial 2-hour workshop and two 60-minute sessions, Bambula moved its weekly sessions to 90 minutes sessions to more deeply assist their decision-making process. Big Surf guided Bambula through the design and materials processes for the activity gym, the emotions, and marketing hooks to connect to and to communicate with customers, and the shape of the online community it will build later this year.
Bambula credits Big Surf with more quickly advancing their decision-making process with respect to design and materials while also helping to explore more deeply its marketing and customer relationship issues. They also noted strongly that our process helped with both individual and team growth with respect to communications and team morale for this 5-person management team.
“Mark and Jill were vital in our product development process, specifically as it pertained to ideation. Not only was it a ton of fun working with them, but the improv games and techniques helped us develop and examine several possible approaches to product development, iterate and refine our marketing messaging, and hone the user experience with our website and product. The combination of their improv coaching skills together with their deep business acumen were ideal for guiding us through our business creation process. I firmly believe that without the help of Mark and Jill, our startup wouldn’t have become refined as quickly or as deeply as it exists today!
One example of the improv process as we developed our subscription snack box product line was a game in which we conducted a political-style debate between the parties of “tasty” and “healthy.” This exercise quickly generated clarity and refinement around our core product messaging. On one occasion, a response from a team member about our “snackbox” was misheard as “snackbot.” Embracing the “yes, and” concept, we developed the resulting idea into our SnackBot website survey that matches customers to their ideal box based on flavor preferences. These examples, and many more throughout the process were critical to our idea generation and iteration.” -Jesse S. Co-Founder, Office Bites Inc.
“Our team of five had the privilege of working with Jill and Mark from Big Surf Communications on BAMBULA baby goods, our start-up graduate thesis at UCLA Anderson this past year. Through our weekly improv and business coaching sessions with Big Surf, we worked through the challenging roadblocks our venture faced by deploying Big Surf’s creative thinking and improv exercises accompanied by expert facilitation. Our work together moved us far more forward than we would have without them and the icing on the cake was the way in which our work with Big Surf strengthened our team communication and culture — we can’t thank Mark and Jill enough!” -BAMBULA Baby Goods
Big Surf deploys deeply experienced business professionals who are also extensively trained in communications, mindfulness, and improvisation to propel our clients forward through a Socratic reporting process in which our clients report to us each week where they are and what they see ahead.
We then use our proprietary Big Surf methodology to clarify, resolve roadblocks and move forward collaboratively in exploring, finding and implementing choices to bring any project to completion faster, better and with higher team morale. We take a 360-degree view of all stakeholders involved in any project to help our clients feel more certain they have considered consequences and implementation issues as they enact their choices.
Because Big Surf is the outsider in the process, we observe, question, and act in a way that respects each individual while also freeing team members to make honest and unrehearsed contributions that otherwise would not surface. As we identify issues that need exploration and/or resolution, we also create an environment that supports internal risk-taking and idea acceptance without judgment until a final choice has been made.
In other words, we help teams translate their ideas into concrete actions by pushing the team to clarify areas of fear, uncertainty, and doubt while also remaining receptive to feedback on those choices. We unleash organizations to more nimbly adjust to a fast-changing world.
We see every critical project as analogous to a roiling ocean where conditions change quickly. We act as the beacon to help our clients successfully land their projects on the beaches they have targeted.
Choose us because, in the big surf, a constant guiding light can make all the difference.
is the Founder and Director of Sales and Training for Corporate Improv Connection, a professional training and coaching company applying the skills of improvisation for business. As owner of the company she is responsible for marketing and branding, cultivating new business, negotiating agreements with clients and facilitates training and coaching.
Jill also has over 20 years business experience working in several industries. IKON Office Solutions, Inc., now a Ricoh Co., employed her in 1998 as a sales representative selling office equipment. She was promoted several times in the 13 years she was there excelling in The Global Accounts division, both in sales and operations.
In her last 4 years, she was a Global Account manager, responsible for managing the company’s top accounts in the Fortune 500, selling the entire suite of services in addition to adding new business. She interfaced with executives, attorneys, contacts in sourcing and information technology departments, negotiated Global Agreements with the client while coordinating with her teams.
She studied a long form improvisational program at Westside Comedy and performed while living in Los Angeles, CA. She also studied and performed with The Ventura Improv Company in Ventura, CA.
is an investor in, and a strategic advisor to, young technology companies like MailRoute, Inc. where he is a member of the board of directors and the CFO. Mark also runs the ecommerce platform for Stem Cell Beauty Innovations where he is also an investor and board member.
Previously, he co-founded FrontBridge (sold to Microsoft in 2005) and was the former CFO of SoftAware Networks (sold to Digital Island in 2000).
Prior to his Internet experience, Mark’s professional focus was finance and corporate development. In these capacities, he helped to grow such diverse companies as Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, Kaiser Group Holdings, Landmark Theatres and Craig Corporation.
Mark has studied and graduated from the IO West, Second City Conservatory and the Westside Comedy Improvisational schools and also holds an MBA from the Anderson School at UCLA as well as a BA in Psychology from the Pitzer College, the Claremont Colleges.
Contact us for a free consultation and evaluation. We will invest a couple of hours of our time to see whether we can add significant value to your company and/or project.
Once we agree to work together, Big Surf provides two professionals at each session for only $500 per hour (no travel charge for local clients in the Los Angeles and Ventura County areas).