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Connected communities

Higher Logic's Hunter Montgomery shares how their cloud-based software facilitates knowledge-sharing + innovation

Founded in 2007, Higher Logic develops cloud-based engagement software that enable organizations and like-minded people worldwide to share knowledge, create content and solve problems.1 Over the past decade, the company has grown from a small startup to a multi-million dollar business with more than 340 staff. Recently, Higher Logic acquired the leading marketing automation software companies Informz and Real Magnet, Inc. Integrating these two companies' automated solutions into Higher Logic's already successful platform will enable them to create even better customer interactions.

Higher Logic's Chief Marketing Officer Hunter Montgomery recently talked with the Rosslyn BID about the company's growth and future direction. So, what motivated Higher Logic founders Rob Wenger and Andy Steggles to start the company? They must've seen a need that wasn't being met in terms of cloud-based community engagement platforms?

Hunter Montgomery: Rob says it was LinkedIn that hit him. He liked the capabilities it offered for connecting people. He wondered how it would work if you applied that same premise to a group of like-minded people who have a reason to interact every day. At the same time, Andy was at an association working on similar tools. Our organizations are a lot alike: A big part of what we do at the Rosslyn BID, as you know, is bring people together at the community level, whether it's by hosting events or making improvements throughout the neighborhood. Are we the kind of organization that would benefit from your platform? Who uses it?

HM: Lots of associations and membership organizations use it: the New Jersey CPA Association, or a state bar association, or the Society of Petroleum Engineers, which is one of our clients. Members have a deeper engagement with each other. So, for instance, a CPA in New Jersey may see that a new tax code has come out and may have questions about it. She can use our platform to engage with peers online. She knows she can trust their opinions on different matters. We also host user groups for IBM; software companies Code42 and Zenoss; and Discovery Education, which has a community called DEN. Teachers use it and love it because it provides them with a huge network of other educators they can get support and ideas from. We've noticed a lot of frogs around the office. Is that your mascot?

HM: Yes, Floyd the Frog is our mascot. He's been around since the beginning. Three years ago, we doubled down on the frog when we rebranded. My kids and I painted these (gestures toward pictures of frogs in his office). What direction is the company headed in the future?

HM: In addition to growing our presence with professional and trade associations, we are continuing to expand our offerings to companies with active customer bases and to the nonprofit, cause-based sector, particularly the kinds of organizations that have a "DONATE" button on their website. From a product standpoint, we are building a platform that tracks and manages interactions along each stage of the digital customer experience, from the initial web visit to renewal and ongoing engagement. Higher Logic will help customers fully manage and track the entire user experience. As a result, our customers can efficiently run all communications through one product and leverage insights to dramatically improve member/customer lifetime value. Higher Logic has received many honors. In 2013, Washingtonian named you a "Best Place to Work." For four consecutive years, you've also been named a top D.C. area company on the Inc. 5000, an exclusive ranking of the nation's fastest-growing companies. And in 2016, you were named one of Virginia's Fantastic 50 Companies by the Virginia Chamber of Commerce.

HM: Yes, Virginia has been very good to us in terms of our development. We've benefited by working with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) and in particular their VALET Program, which has helped us expand outside of the US to the UK and Australia. It's been a great reason to stick around Virginia. We've also grown a lot in 2017 because we acquired companies. Before the acquisitions, we had 197 people. Now we have more than 340. Now that you're merging three companies, it sounds like you could use a platform like your own to bring together these different communities of people!

HM: It'd be hard to get all 340 of us in the same room, and we leverage our own product to keep employees engaged with each other and our customers. We host our staff intranet on our platform. Think of it like a private LinkedIn with more conversations and sharing. We also have a customer community, HUG, where our clients interact with other clients and our staff. Because we still value the in-person interaction, our executive team is very good about visiting the other offices regularly. It's one way to keep people working together. We also added a Chief HR Officer to the team in the fall. She is focused on making sure we keep the same culture that got us to where we are today. Do you think Rosslyn's accessibility helps you with employee recruitment and retention?

HM: Yes, it's great being near Metro, buses, bike trails. Nobody wants to be far out there anymore. Our employees like to walk, bike or take Metro to work. There are lots of places to go out to lunch. It's a city. It's the same feel in Rosslyn that you have if you go downtown on K Street. Plus, it's great how the neighborhood has grown. When we moved in, Kona Grill wasn't here, Barley Mac wasn't here. Now, we go to these places. And we love District Taco. Plus, the variety of food trucks around here is just awesome. So what's special about this company?

HM: Really—and maybe this is something I should be dinged for as the marketing guy—but I feel like we're the best kept secret. For years we bootstrapped, didn't take investors. The executives didn't take a salary for a while. We first had investors in September of 2016: a private equity company from Baltimore. We've had great growth without promoting ourselves too much.

More info: Higher Logic

1. This description of Higher Logic was taken from their Twitter profile.
Photo at top: Recently, members of the Rosslyn BID team met with Higher Logic's Chief Marketing Officer Hunter Montgomery. Over the past decade, the company has grown from a small startup to a multi-million dollar business with more than 340 staff.
Photo on homepage: Higher Logic's Chief Product Officer Ed English, Chief Technology Officer Conor Sibley and Chief Marketing Officer Hunter Montgomery.
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