Company streamlines information overload

Mark Russell, co-founder of CatalystXL

CatalystXL is a Detroit-based company whose focus is helping to solve the problem of information overload among employees, clients, partners, and suppliers. Its platform, Cardware, integrates with database systems and offers a way to communicate and share content more easily.

Fast Future spoke with Mark Russell, co-founder of CatalystXL, about the company and how its platform works.

What’s the issue your company hopes to help solve?

Russell: The average employee is expected to get hit with 120 emails per day. They also have to sort through 10,000 corporate documents–PowerPoints, PDFs, etc. Companies have gone from eight SaaS tools to 80 and they’re using Slack and timesheets. Employees are expected to navigate between those and everyone’s getting inundated with too much content.

Companies are also sometimes bad at communication. A small example is a COVID policy. Employees want to know where companies are with their policies.

How does Cardware help?

Russell: We built a SaaS platform that streamlines communication and mission-critical content for frontline employees. At its core, it’s a mobile app that has a core communication ability. But it also houses really important content, about products or services or employee benefits. Companies decide how they want to use it, how they want it to integrate into other backend systems. Like Salesforce, so it becomes a single source of truth for employees with mission-critical communications and content. We can custom brand a company’s logo and their look and feel. We’re invisible—it’s very much the company’s platform and app.

We not only built an app, but we built an engine, a technology platform that launches the app in six minutes. The content management system itself is all drag and drop, making the app very easy to customize and configure.

Can you give us an example of the app in use?

Russell: Let’s say I gave you a lesson in public speaking. After an hour, you’re going to forget a lot of what you learned—it’s just human nature. You can go back into the app and find everything we talked about. All the other lessons are there too. It’s like curriculum and education. We also do that in the health and wellness vertical and the consulting vertical. The app is really good at helping companies keep their consultants informed and educated about all the different services they have.

We help in the automotive industry. We help headquarters with all other franchisee dealerships, so they can communicate from a central hub. We also help sports teams with their educational academies and informational academies.

What resources did you take advantage of when launching the company?

Russell: My co-founder, Dugan Schwalm, and I launched the company four years ago. We worked with an accelerator called NewChip. We also went through the YC Startup School. Now we’re working with NEF, which is local to the Detroit area. NEF is not an accelerator per se but really good at honing our VC presentations.

What are the other advantages of launching a company in Detroit?

Russell: Detroit is a great Midwestern city. We’ve got the automotive industry here. Labor tends to be more affordable and there’s a lot of innovation going on here.

Mark Russell has over 25 years of startup and executive leadership experience with expertise in establishing, leading, and turning around digital marketing agencies. Mr. Russell has previously held the position of Chief Executive Officer for OTTO Detroit, a digital transformation agency he founded in 2012. He has also held the position of President of Wunderman Team Detroit, where he led the global digital marketing transformation of Ford Motor Company from 2007 to 2012.