Brian Zuercher, co-founder HOPEWELL

Hopewell, headquartered in Columbus, OH, is a company that measures and provides data for improving the work experience. The company will soon be opening a facility in Louisville, specifically in Paristown. Louisville Future spoke with Brian Zuercher, one of the co-founders of Hopewell, about what they do.


Tell us about Hopewell.


Zuercher: We call ourselves a work experience data company. That’s very meta and doesn’t really mean anything other than what we do is we study and analyze how people work. That is, what is impacting their work experience, specifically related to the built environment, the physical space, and the tools and tech. We also look at the policy and systems like hybrid work types of things that companies are obviously adopting now.


One of our products is the work lab; our physical space operation. Some people would put that kind of generously in the co-working industry but we don’t actually rent office space. It’s primarily a high-end, premium tech off-site meeting experience. Individuals can come and work there. It’s got 13,000 square feet of really awesome meeting and collaboration rooms.


How do you get data from the work lab?


Zuercher: We have wired up the whole place to track and understand how people use it, what products are working and what’s not. We’re bringing all that feedback into our data model to understand how people can design workspaces that will have a high impact on work. The lab in Louisville is a partnership with a specialty contractor company firm called ID&A. They helped us design and get this space off the ground.


Then we have the software side of our business which is really our primary business where we go to companies and assess the work experience that they have. Within that, we understand and uncover areas that can make impact, whether it’s changing the environment, inputting different policies or tools. With COVID, our concept has gone from a vitamin to a pain killer.


Our whole company is about how to predict what are the right areas to focus on to help people do more productive work. We don’t focus on the culture aspect of the company or the employee engagement side.


What is the framework?


Zuercher: The framework we use is similar to consumer experience and consumer insights. What that means is that we try to explore what we call a customer journey but it’s kind of a work journey. How are you moving in and out of the work modes? What’s having an impact on that? Our product also gets into how to extract your preferences and needs as a worker and how the company can help make that a better experience overall.


You mentioned that’s it’s not like a co-working space. Who populates the spaces so you can get the data?


Zuercher: We sell memberships. A lot of companies want to get offsite to do strategy planning and those types of things, so they can book rooms for the day or for hours if they want. We also have memberships for individuals.


Who is the client for this data?


Zuercher: It’s the large enterprises or mid-size companies, the Vice President of People, Human Resources, and corporate real estate executives. The C-suite generally is the buyer and then obviously we engage through the whole stack of the employees.


It’s like a personality test you take. Management gets a layer of feedback and the C-suite gets an understanding of what’s working and what’s not.


How was Hopewell formed?


Zuercher: My two partners, Emily Kaplan and Amy Iannone, and I founded it. We started the company about two years ago and then through COVID we really accelerated the growth given that the market demand now is high. We partner with commercial real estate, architect and design firms, and office environment companies. We also sell direct to corporate.


What brought you to Louisville?


Zuercher: We did a search with growth cities between 13 – 30 in terms of population. Our criteria was that the city was on a growth trajectory, had a highly engaged business community of diverse size and types of businesses, a focus on arts/culture (food, art, etc.), and a unique location with access to entertainment and experiences.


Louisville met all that criteria and Mark Eley, CEO of ID&A, spearheaded having their firm become a perfect partner to help launch and operate the space. Mark introduced us to the Paristown Trust development team and had immediate synergies on the vision of that development and how we could fit our work experience component into that story.