Kirk’s Story: The Birth of Software from Coffee, Beer, & Prototype

The Story Behind the Invention of Commonality – Connecting Unique Social Ties

When a new employee joined The Endurance Group last Fall, nobody knew his arrival to the company would foster the development of a unique software that would change the way we did business forever. 

Kirk’s background is unique. Prior to joining TEG, Kirk served as Laboratory Director for a leading testing and compliance firm. Under his watch, Kirk’s facility provided a range of testing services for a number of industries and sectors. These included clients in the civil engineering, construction, consulting, chemical, academic, and government sectors. He also managed the laboratory’s P&L and business development efforts. 

His leadership abilities coupled with his in-network connections made Kirk an optimal candidate, and TEG quickly hired him to join the team. Unbeknownst to Kirk, he was destined for much more at The Endurance Group. Through casual conversations over freshly brewed coffee, and sometimes locally brewed beer, Kirk became aware of an idea held by management at The Endurance Group. 

For over 20 years, The Endurance Group has helped clients generate leads and close new deals. Despite the work changing drastically as technology developed, one aspect of their work remained constant. The Endurance Group did its best work when they helped their clients develop relationships they did not have; when they leveraged their clients’ social capital. Jim Sullivan and his son, Conor Sullivan, desired to build a software that could carry out this “social capital search process” TEG had done by hand for years- manually searching clients’ and prospects’ social media profiles and resumes to determine connections between them.

Conor and Jim realized Kirk was the “right guy” to help bring the vision of Commonality into reality. Kirk’s years of experience in the testing/compliance world, background in multiple services, provided the ability for TEG to connect with the proper firm that could get their idea off the ground. 

In a world full of data analytics, Kirk wanted to make sure that he wasn’t just involved in another simple data initiative. He wanted to make sure we weren’t reinventing the wheel but rather creating something special – the “first of its kind” kind of product. 

Over the next year, Kirk created a new platform called Commonality. The product collected data on companies’ employees by scanning their social media profiles: their education, volunteer work, interests, prior work experience, etc. Then, it does the same things for a company’s prospects. Finally, it compares the two.

  • Did our client’s CEO attend the same university as a prospect’s CFO?
  • Did our client’s COO work at the same company as a prospect’s VP of HR?
  • Does our client’s data science engineer volunteer with the same organization as a prospect’s CRO?
  • Do a client’s CMO and prospect’s VP of Sales follow the same celebrity?

As the product has developed, those same casual conversations over freshly brewed coffee and sometimes locally brewed beer continue to fall on Kirk’s calendar. And now, with Commonality fully functioning and improving the social capital and business development of companies across the country, the conversation sounds a bit different:

 “What if Commonality could do this?”

“What if we treat the data like that?”

According to Kirk, TEG’s rollout of unique social capital software has only just begun.