Y Combinator-Backed Ambition Offers A Fantasy Football-Style Approach To Motivating Sales Teams

Ambition says it’s taking the process of tracking and motivating sales teams beyond white boards and gongs.

The startup, which is part of the current class at incubator Y Combinator, launched its product last August, but has been “flying under the radar” in the press until now, said co-founder Travis Truett. He compared Ambition’s approach to fantasy football — he’s hoping Ambition users will be excited to log in every day and see how their team is doing.

Unlike fantasy football, however, Ambition isn’t tracking professional athletes competing against each other in imaginary matches. (At least, that’s how I remember fantasy football — it’s been a long time since someone strong-armed me into participating.) Instead, it looks at the performance of different sales teams within the company, allowing them to compete for limited “seasons,” with rewards for the winners.

Each team member is assigned an “ambition” score. The specific metrics that are used to calculate the score can be customized for each company and each position, so Truett suggested that it’s a way to compare people who are doing different positions.

He added that Ambition integrates with phone and customer relationship management systems, so it can track the relevant metrics without requiring any extra work from the salespeople (though it may motivate them to keep the CRM updated).

Ambition Profile

The idea of “gamifying” the workplace isn’t new, Truett acknowledges, but he said most companies are doing “gamification for gamification’s sake” or “Gamification 1.0”. More specifically, he suggested that many of the existing tools are too focused on leaderboards.

“That’s relatively passive, it’s not sustainable,” he said. “You really only have the top 10 percent who are motivated, because I might say, ‘You know what? Anthony wins every single time, so what do I care?'”

That’s why the team-focused system could be an important motivator — participants feel like they have a stake in their team’s success, even if they’re not No. 1, and it also makes the process “peer motivated, not manager motivated,” Truett said. Managers, meanwhile, can look at individual and team-wide data.

While Ambition’s initial focus is sales, Truett suggested that it could eventually serve “anybody that measures their employees.”

The startup was founded in Chattanooga, Tenn., and has raised seed funding from The Lamp Post Group, Y Combinator, and YC VC.