Displaying your corporate culture to employees and visitors is easier said than done. Des Moines company Happy Boards is looking to simplify the process of displaying custom messaging at offices and events.
How Happy Boards works
When web design agency Happy Medium moved to a new location in 2014, founder and CEO Katie Patterson was interested in using digital signage to greet clients, mark employee work anniversaries and birthdays and other important events.
“I think a lot of products are invented to solve a problem you don’t even realize everyone is having,” Patterson said. “Our main priority was to welcome clients and build our company culture through the screen.”
Initially, the signs were run by connecting a laptop to the TVs, but as more and more clients expressed interest in having something similar in their offices, Patterson started to see greater potential for what would become Happy Boards.
Happy Board is essentially a dashboard, where users log in and select different modules. There, the users can design each “board,” adding text, photos, videos or even pulling in social media posts. It’s setup to run like a playlist, so “Happy birthday to Donna from accounting” might alternate with boards informing employees of health care open enrollment deadlines or an upcoming work picnic.
The different modules can be dragged and dropped to create a playlist of boards to cycle throughout the day. Special boards can be scheduled out, so an important client visit next Friday can be set up in advance, and every employee birthday can be added to run on the right day.
The boards run from a piece of hardware similar to an AppleTV, which is connected to each TV. The dashboard can be logged into from everywhere, letting the user manage one screen or dozens.
From digital to physical
Happy Medium is primarily a digital agency, but Happy Boards requires a piece of hardware to work. That involved some experimentation and a little trial and error before the product was viable.
“Firmware and hardware were a whole new experience for us,” Patterson said. “We had to get a lot of verification to get the equipment through customs, and every client has different screens or tech. So the hardware component was a really big challenge for us.”
What’s next for Happy Boards
Patterson says for now, the goal is to continue growing the user base for Happy Boards. In the long term, she wants the brand to become self-sustaining and become more a more known name. There’s also the possibility of Happy Boards moving beyond the need for hardware.
“I would love for us to get to a place where we don’t need a hardware component,” Patterson said. “The front-facing portion of Happy Boards is already web-based, but if we could be completely app-based, without the need for our hardware to get on screens, that would be game-changing.”
Joe Lawler is a freelance reporter based in Des Moines.