ChattyKathi Launches B2B Product to Promote Social Belonging

A group of people with their hands in, text saying "curating connection for your community"
ChattyKathi, an emerging technology company with proven experience revitalizing long-distance friendships, announces today their new B2B product line. The women-founded-and-owned company is turning its attention to the key driver for boosting engagement and retention across the marketplace: social belonging.
Ericka Schubert headshot

Ericka Schubert

August 26, 2021
ChattyKathi launched in 2020 as a platform to inspire joy-filled conversations and boost mental health by lowering the barrier to achieving long term, and often long-distance, friendships. Their SMS-based product sends weekly curated text messages to groups of two to six people, effectively eliminating the burden on an individual to remember when to reach out or determine what to say. Friendships for users took a huge sigh of relief and saw a dramatic uptick in feelings of connection, with 100% of surveyed users reporting that ChattyKathi conversations both helped them feel closer with their friends and created joy in their day.

After achieving over 15,000 messages sent in 3,000 conversations within the first six months of their product launch, ChattyKathi is eager to apply their expertise to help organizations navigate the social factor now trending as the strongest indicator of both employee engagement and student success: social belonging. Social belonging is the feeling of security and support when an individual experiences acceptance, inclusion, and celebration of their identity as part of a group.¹ Essentially, social settings that encourage authenticity and foster psychological safety help people connect with one another, whether in school or at work. Studies suggest social belonging can be broken into three elements: consistent feedback, validation, and shared experiences. Not coincidentally, these components sound a lot like the four factors ChattyKathi uses to drive connection through friendships in their B2C product: frequency, fun, vulnerability, and affirmation. Developed in collaboration with Friendship Psychologist Dr. Marisa G. Franco, ChattyKathi’s 1000-question prompt catalog prioritizes fun, validating conversations while ensuring that users’ vulnerability is met with support and positivity. The new B2B product takes the extra step by allowing organizations to customize their users’ experience and reinforces connection back to their programming. Event promotion and data analytics to highlight the unique interests within each community are included with other new features.

ChattyKathi will offer their belonging solution in two primary markets: higher learning programs, and newly-virtual teams in the workplace.

Belonging to boost student success in higher education
A computer desk
56% of graduate students experience extreme depression and anxiety, a statistic that intensifies when applied to minorities and first generation students.² Dropout rates for virtual post-graduate programs currently hover at a staggering 63%. With more programs exploring a virtual or hybrid learning experience, it is more important than ever to find ways to build sticky communities and foster belonging without consistent in-person interactions.

Numerous recent academic studies agree that belonging is the best indicator for student success. A 3-year study conducted at Stanford University showed that an intervention to increase African American student’s sense of belonging visibly raised grade-point average (GPA) relative to multiple control groups and halved the minority achievement gap. This success was achieved, the researchers found, because the intervention prevented students from seeing adversity on campus as an indictment of their belonging. Instead, belonging was reinforced.³ Cornell University also emphasizes the crucial role that belonging plays in their student and staff success. Their research team asserts, “An increased sense of belonging leads to collaboration, problem solving, and better decision making. It’s only when people feel a sense of belonging that they can share ideas, confidently speak up, and fully contribute to the University’s success”.⁴ In addition to improving student outcomes, fostering a sense of belonging is one of the best ways to drive equity and reduce achievement gaps within university programs.

ChattyKathi offers higher education leaders an opportunity to foster belonging within their student communities and seize the incredible student experience and financial benefits it offers. The new B2B product will be available for schools to launch with incoming classes before students even reach campus, helping to lower the anxiety of starting school and to build lasting friendships earlier. Schools will also be able to author custom prompts and build unique libraries of content based on the topics most relevant to their communities. These customizations drive engagement and reinforce students’ connection to their programs.

For schools, the financial incentive is clear. A study through UC Berkeley found that dropout rates can decrease by as much as 36% for higher education students when the university applies interventions to emphasize community building.⁵ For certification programs like Coding Bootcamps, student tuition is dependent upon a graduate’s starting salary, meaning each student who finishes the program represents an added return of up to $75,000. Evidence also suggests that students’ sense of belonging can increase alumni giving probability by 600%.⁶ Universities have a tremendous opportunity to profit from fostering belonging and building community for their students.
A group of happy people socializing
A global study conducted at the end of 2020 with over 11,000 participants unveiled that belonging is the strongest driver of employee engagement, greater than either trust in leadership or opportunity for career growth.⁷ However, while most organizations (surveyed at 79%) agree fostering belonging is important for their success over the next 12 to 18 months, only 13% say they are ready to address this need.” ⁸
Harvard Business Review summarizes the issue nicely,

“In a nutshell, companies are blowing it. U.S. businesses spend nearly $8 billion⁹ each year on diversity and inclusion (D&I) trainings that miss the mark because they neglect our need to feel included.” ¹⁰

While many companies focus HR strategies on surface-level solutions to meet DEI quotas, their efforts don’t achieve lasting impact. Understanding the value of the individual within an organization and hearing his or her unique voice is essential to harnessing their creativity and boosting performance. The ROI is clear. A 2019 study found that workplace belonging can lead to a 50% reduction in turnover risk, and a 75% decrease in employee sick days, while a single occurrence of “micro-exclusion” can lead to an immediate 25% drop in an individual’s performance on a team project. ⁸

ChattyKathi offers employers an opportunity to build community by celebrating the individuals that comprise their organizations. All ChattyKathi conversations take place between 10 or fewer users to ensure that each participant has an opportunity to share and feel heard. Questions cover hundreds of interest areas and draw upon friendship psychology techniques to promote inclusion and avoid competition.

The good news? ChattyKathi’s solution is already working. After her project team had been using ChattyKathi during a remote-work assignment for 12 weeks, one consultant reported,

“Even though our team already had a solid rapport, ChattyKathi gave us a fun and structured way to get to talk about our personal lives. These are the conversations that you would normally share in the team room and don’t get to have when we don’t see one another in person.”

It’s clear that ChattyKathi can make a difference in a variety of environments, driving belonging for communities and individuals while helping users achieve the tremendous benefits. ChattyKathi is eager to move into these and other possible market segments in the upcoming months.

Contact ericka@chattykathi.com for pricing information or to join the waitlist for ChattyKathi’s B2B product.

[1] Cecelia Herbert // December 9.
“Belonging: The New Top Driver of Employee Engagement in 2021.” Qualtrics, 9 Aug. 2021, accessed August 23, 2021.

[2]
“Happiness Effect down to Sense of Belonging, Study Shows.” Nottingham Trent University, 6 July 2018, accessed August 23, 2021.

[3]
Gregory M. Walton Geoffrey Lawrence Cohen, et al. “A Brief Social-Belonging Intervention Improves Academic and Health Outcomes of Minority Students.Stanford Graduate School of Business, 1 Jan. 1970, accessed August 23, 2021.

[4] “Cornell University.”
Sense of Belonging | Cornell University Diversity and Inclusion, accessed August 23, 2021.

[5] Strauss, Valerie.
“Perspective | ‘a Dereliction of Duty’: The College Dropout Scandal — and How to Fix It.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 10 Sept. 2019

[6] Drezner, Noah D., and Oren Pizmony-Levy. “I Belong, Therefore, i Give? The Impact of Sense of Belonging on Graduate Student Alumni Engagement.” Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, vol. 50, no. 4, 2020, pp. 753–777., doi:10.1177/0899764020977687

[7] BetterUp,
The value of belonging at work: The business case for investing in workplace inclusion, accessed August 23, 2021.

[8]
“Belonging: From Comfort to Connection to Contribution.” Deloitte Insights, accessed August 23, 2021.

[9]
“Focusing on What Works for Workplace Diversity.” McKinsey & Company, McKinsey & Company, 21 Nov. 2019.

[10] Johnson, Whitney, et al.
“The Value of Belonging at Work.” Harvard Business Review, 16 Dec. 2019, accessed August 23, 2021
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