Read on and you'll explore our history, from a college print-based booklet to our first online site and our transition into a technology company. You'll meet some of our key team members, including founder Charlie Kim, as well as see how our mission "Better Me+You=Us" has been embedded in our culture - for our employees, the people we work with and the community around us.
Charlie started Next Jump from his college dorm room in 1994. He went through school on financial aid and did not intend to build the company to go from rags to riches, but instead to maintain a long distance relationship with his high school sweetheart.
Our main product was a series of student phonebooks that were distributed to the populations of schools in the Boston area. They included advertisements, coupons, and menus that gave students discounts on products and services.
After graduation, Charlie took a job with Morgan Stanley and ran Next Jump remotely for two years. He found something was missing and returned to the business full time in 1997.
Charlie was predominantly working with college interns when he started Next Jump. He devised a training plan that allowed him to pass along his expertise to the people working for the company - and so an early precursor to Next Jump University was born. Charlie would teach classes on sales technique to groups who were working in that capacity.
We opened our first office in Davis Square Somerville, Massachusetts - a 500 square foot basement space where we could only see people's feet through the window as they walked by.
We launched our first products aimed at corporate HR departments in 1998. ClickatWork was a combination of playbill sized guidebooks and web sites aimed at corporate employees. The books and web sites included menus from local restaurants as well as discount coupons for products and services available in the local neighbourhood of the corporation’s office.
We also launched our first e-commerce product during this time called OutletTown. The site gave local, small retailers a chance to bring their inventory online and sell goods and services to consumers through a new channel. In 1999 we opened our office at 183 Madison Ave in New York.
Next Jump sponsored food offerings in the office as far back as when we had our first office. The original incarnation of the healthy snacks, breakfast, and other items found at Next Jump today have their roots in a culture that has always valued feeding employees (if not always in a strictly healthy way).
In the early days Charlie would drive to a BJ superstore and buy drinks and frozen popsicles for office consumption. The name Next Jump was coined in 1999 when the company was incorporated (it had been a partnership and LLC prior to 1999).
By the time of the first dot-com bubble we had grown to 150 employees in five offices (Boston, New York, Washington, Chicago, and San Francisco). Companies were going under all around us and we knew we needed to make some adjustments.
We survived the dot-com bust by shrinking down to 4 employees in January 2002. There was light at the end of the tunnel though: we launched our first EPP clients and saw signs of success in the fall and Christmas of 2001. This success led to our servers crashing under the strain of traffic for the first time. With very little money, but under pressure from new clients to improve our service, we took the unusual step of turning desktop computers of former employees into servers.
The silver lining of getting down to four people was learning how to prioritize work and focus on running a profitable business. By the fall of 2002 we were profitable on a quarter-over-quarter basis for the first time in our history.
As Next Jump began to grow again in 2002, we found ourselves in a situation where we wanted to celebrate. The company began sponsoring events like a dress up Halloween party, a Blackjack tournament where you got cards as you hit company metrics and OKRs, and a re-invigorated holiday party.
We’ve always tried to take a work hard, play hard philosophy, which has been incorporated into the standard and spontaneous events we host today.
In the fall of 2002 we acquired our biggest competitor, Abilizer Solutions, making us the market leader in the employee shopping portal space. We quickly transitioned all of their clients onto our platform and began to consolidate our leadership position.
We also established the three pillars of our corporate strategy: increase the network size, deepen merchant relationships, and increase the usage of our existing network. We began to develop products centred on these three pillars. To grow the network we began a land grab in the corporate HR space. To deepen merchant relationships we developed a gated process that led merchants to large contracts that paid us fees in exchange for traffic.
Finally, we began developing our techniques for email marketing using three core databases of information on the employees in our network: demographic, behavioural, and preference.
The beginnings of Next Jump’s extensive award programs found root in the aftermath of the dot-com bust. As the staff grew from 4 employees upwards, it became clear that employees were achieving extraordinary things with very few resources.
We thought these achievements were "incredible" given where we had come from and where we were going - we formalized the name "Incredible Award" after the movie came out in 2004.
We signed a contract for a pilot program with American Express that led us deeper into the world of R&I. We also began a steep learning curve on how to track consumer transactions and reward users for transacting. We deployed our first registered card program, which led to affiliate, direct tracking, and eventually our WOWPoints currency.
We quickly signed other R&I business, including large contracts with Dell, Borders, and AARP. On the merchant side of the business we grew our book of advertising business through large gate 3 contracts with Blackberry, Sony, Priceline, Ralph Lauren, and many others. We expanded our offering internationally to London - first with one person at a home office and then to our current office on Waterloo Road.
We started the UK business with one EPP client; Bank of America, and three merchants; Apple, Innterplace and Sytner.
Next Jump has always been a fairly healthy group of people. We began to solidify our commitment to health and wellness in 2006 when we began hosting training sessions in the large conference room on the 8th floor of the New York office. Running exercises consisted of sprints around the conference room table.
The Next Jump Summer Olympics were born at our summer outing. Next Jump athletes took over Camp Kiwi and competed against each other at dizzy bat, slip and slide, tug of war and many other feats of strength!
That same summer we had our first speech from world renowned performance and motivation coach Jim Loehr.
In 2007 we began to focus most of our energy towards becoming a product company vs. a marketing company. One of our top priorities in this area was to increase the number of engineers at the company. We began running our Super Saturday recruiting events in 2007. This effort has quickly led us to become the largest Internet engineer force on the east coast.
Our engineering team began developing our product at unparalleled speed into a premier online shopping experience and loyalty platform. Better personalization, UI/UX, and data helped us deliver content that is unique to each user, driving up conversions when compared to traditional advertising and loyalty models.
We began refining the way we recruit new talent - specifically, we introduced our college recruiting programs and Super Saturday. We began building close relationships with universities and fostered our emerging reputation as the #1 destination for engineers on the East Coast.
As part of our NxJ Cares strategy, we began a project called Code for a Cause. Our original customer was Angelwish, who eventually moved into our New York office. Next Jump employees have participated in several projects with Angelwish over the years.
Up until this time we had funded a large part of our growth from fees paid by merchants for advertising services. We began to emphasize commissions paid by merchants when consumers shop through our sites.
We were successful in converting our advertising fee relationships into commission-oriented relationships, which helped us place more focus on consumers. In 2010 we signed a large partnership with MasterCard, launching a web site for them called MasterCard Marketplace.
The UK office launched a number of marquee clients during this time, growing registered users from 200K at the end of 2009 to 766K at the end of 2011, including four of the country’s largest banks (Lloyds Banking Group, RBS, Santander, and HSBC).
To help employees better manage their energy levels at work, we introduced NxJ Vacations a program that allowed employees to upgrade their vacations for half the price.
Every employee was given a $5,000 budget from which they could enhance their time OFF work, to ensure they were fully relaxing whilst on holiday and were then more productive whilst AT work. Employees used this to go to further, more exotic destinations, sit in business class, stay in 5* hotels, and for experiences during their time away, such as flying in a helicopter, visiting the best restaurants and renting sports cars.
In the December holiday party, we launched our first annual inter-office dance competition. Each office is instructed to put together a 3-segment choreographed routine before battling it out on the dance floor. The New York office claimed the first bragging rights.
We launched OO.com, Next Jump's first consumer facing shopping site, on November 25th 2011 (Black Friday). OO.com combined the best deals and offers with the ability to earn WOWPoints rewards on each purchase:
"What's unique about OO.com is that in addition to having all the discounts and deals in the market, consumers are earning WOWPoints™ on top of every transaction. We believe shopping any other way is pointless (pun intended),"
said Charlie Kim, Founder & CEO of Next Jump.
We opened our San Francisco office in 2011, bringing a new focus on mobile applications. We released several mobile applications this year, including a social shopping app, Ella and a restaurant app, Dine In or Out.
Next Jump continued to refine its mission into Better Me+You=Us. At the core of Next Jump is a constant drive to learn and grow. Our vision is to make our employees better, to help solve issues for our clients and their employees and to impact our communities in a positive way.
We also took leadership positions outside the company, including leading a New York city initiative called SA500 event hosted at the NYSE with 500 selected engineers students and with CEOs/Chiefs of Engineering from the East Coast’s more disruptive tech companies; SA500 Kids which is a new strategy to allowing users to not only save money when shopping, but at the same time to fund technology in public school classrooms with every purchase made; and finally working with Mayor Bloomberg Charlie was appointed to be on advisory committee to evaluate proposals for a NYC tech campus. Internally, we introduced a Fast-Track mentorship program for key high-performers, providing in-depth one-on-one mentorship from the Next Jump strategy team, along with external advisors. At the same time, we began providing continued education and inspiration to all employees by bringing in successful CEOs as guest speakers, as part of the Next Jump University program. Early speakers include Simon Sinek, author of Start With Why, John Wood - Room to Read and Janet Hanson - 85 Broads.
Our continued investment in human capital and our culture was marked with the introduction of our first ever Avengers Award. Avengers personify the spirit of "alone we can do good, together we can do great." This new award recognizes the Next Jumper who most exemplifies steward-leadership. The ideal candidate is someone who creates an environment that helps others succeed by caring for and serving those around them; someone who works to define, preserve and build a better Next Jump. This year's award was presented on July 20th in NYC and the winner, Michael Walters from the UK office, received a prize of a week-long vacation for him and his loved ones, with a $25,000 budget.
In 2013, we rolled out our ONECart experience to our entire Network. With merchants such as Priceline.com, Wal-Mart, Grubhub and Restaurants.com fully integrated into the seamless experience, users are now able to book their holidays, purchase discounted gift cards & movie tickets, and even have meals delivered to their home, all with our real-time connectivity with our partners’ e-commerce systems.
Our Reward & Recognition platform also continued to grow in 2013, with BB&T joining the likes of Carillion and William Hill who are currently using the platform to reward their employees and drive employee engagement. Next Jump continued to grow our own Reward & Recognition system as well, with employees acknowledging the work of their peers through the likes of Top 10 Employee of the Month, Kung Fu Panda awards, recognizing those who master their character imbalances, and the Avengers award, recognizing servant leadership in the company.
In June, we opened our doors to a New York based Non-Profit organization called Summer Search. Summer Search really aligns with Next Jump's WHY, and so we invited their full NY office of 14 full time employees to move into our NY office, reducing their rent from $100,000 per year to $1 per year. We look forward to collaborating with them and their students to help their 50 students graduate the program and prepare for college.
On 19th July, Gowri became the second winner of the Avengers award, recognizing the top servant leaders in the company and focusing on the trait of "service to others". It is to honor our mothers, who are most proud of us when we are happy and kind to others. Gowri’s parents were flown in from Mumbai - in secret - to surprise him, to make the day a truly special one for him and his family to remember. As well as Gowri, Charlie was also recognized with a special Lifetime Avengers Award. The Lifetime Avenger Award recognizes the leader who builds and preserves the culture of the company and has created a company culture that scales servant leadership. As a thank you for all he has done, the team secretly flew in his mother, which moved Charlie to tears.
August saw Next Jump being recognized by the Management Innovation eXchange as a winner of the 2013 Leaders Everywhere Challenge, and September saw Next Jump receiving the Fit-Friendly Worksite Gold status from the American Heart Association, and being named one of the Top 46 Healthiest Companies to work for in America.
We also changed our internal recognition awarding structure, which is now broken into two categories. Mastery and Growth (Better Me) and Purpose (Better You). The new Kung Fu Panda awards will be given to those who show exceptional improvement in their character imbalance; the Dragon Warrior Award is for insecure NxJumpers who master confidence, and the Master ShiFu Award is for NxJumpers who master humility