Harnessing Employee Feedback to Improve Business Decisions

Inkling Markets
Adam Siegel and Nathan Kontny

How can companies the size of Microsoft (MSFT), Ford (F), and Cisco (CSCO) use their massive workforces' knowledge to improve performance? Nathan Kontny and Adam Siegel think the answer is in prediction markets. The two Accenture (ACN) veterans started Chicago-based Inkling Markets in 2006 to develop software that lets workers make bets using virtual currency on questions such as whether a product will ship on time. "Large organizations have trouble rolling up people's feedback," says CTO and co-founder Kontny, 32. "Typically they're worried if something's going to be late or if something's not going to happen. They'd like to know about those things sooner rather than later." The Inkling Markets algorithm weighs thousands of bets that employees make and produces a price that represents the probability of an event happening. Companies generally pay $10 to $15 per user per month. Kontny and Siegel got $18,000 in funding from the Y Combinator startup incubator in 2006 and bootstrapped the rest. Inkling Markets, with three employees, was profitable within nine months, Kontny says.

—John Tozzi (posted on Mar. 30, 2010)
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