Biography and Background:
Kelly Harman the co-founder of Department 60, Inc., a company focused on developing innovative solutions that enable virtually any company to leverage digital signage in their communication strategy. The company's flagship product, Visualz, is an award-winning, cloud-based digital signage service that enables organizations of all sizes to deliver engaging and eye catching digital content to virtually any display without the need to buy expensive hardware and software, nor commit to hours of training and design expertise. The service is sold primarily through AV Integrators and Managed Service Providers. Kelly is an accomplished marketing executive with 20 years of proven hands-on experience in growing businesses through marketing strategy, channel development, analytics and customer insight. Much of her career has been spent working with startups and fast-growth companies in the technology sector, including voice, video and data communications, software, security, cloud computing and systems integration. A published author, Kelly speaks and writes on the subjects of entrepreneurship, marketing, social media and the integration of today's new marketing technologies into measurable marketing systems. She has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, News Week, BusinessWeek, The Washington Post and Washington Business Journal.
How have you personally helped advance your company's channel business over the past year?
My years working with integrators has given me much insight into how tough it is to be successful in this industry without including services and recurring revenues in your business offerings. From the company's inception, my partners and I have been committed to helping AV integrators develop new recurring revenue streams for their business. As such, our flag-ship product, Visualz, is only available through channel partners. Since our launch in late 2016, because of this commitment, we have successfully established reseller agreements with some of the largest AV integrators and distributors in the US, and are now working closely with them to roll out our unique, cloud-based digital signage service. As part of developing awareness of our services and ensure success for our channel partners, Kelly (with her co-founders) have developed a robust marketing program including lead generation and nurturing activities to help kickstart the success of our channel relationships.
What are your goals for your company's channel business over the next year?
We are fortunate to have established strong relationships with some very well known and successful channels. Our goal in the next year is to expand these relationships and help our channel partners establish and grow their recurring revenue business. We also plan on continuing to enhance the features available in Visualz so that our partners can leverage its capabilities to penetrate new markets.
What honors, awards or commendations have you won over the past year?
The past year has been focused on building market awareness for Department 60 and Visualz. As part of our strategic plan, we have submitted for several awards and I'm very proud to say we have received three in 2016-2017. TMC recognized us in late 2016 for "Communications Product of the Year". Worship Facilities Magazine (WFM) awarded Visualz "Best Product of the Year" in December 2016, and National Systems Contractor Association selected us as one of 8 products recognized for innovation at NSCA's annual Business & Leadership Conference in Chandler, AZ.
Outside of your family, please name a woman you admire and why:
My friend Ann was much older than me, really more of a second mother. By simply observing her live out her life, she taught me how to enjoy mine. She was strong and funny and the most authentic human being I ever met. She lived through great tragedies, and yet was always optimistic. Even when she was battling with cancer, she made a point of sending me poems or articles she thought I would enjoy. She taught me to be true to myself and gave me courage when I thought mine was gone. I miss her very much.
What advice would you give to young women who want to begin careers in technology?
Be your authentic self, always. Don't be afraid to ask questions, if the person won't explain then s/he probably doesn't know the answer either. Work hard, and volunteer for projects that carry risk. Don't be afraid of failing, because you will. Just learn from the experience. Surround yourself with people who share your values and ambition and will push you. Never stop learning, studying and pursuing your interests. Share your goals and dreams with people you respect. Seek out people you admire and tell them how you feel, and why. Do your best, even when its a crappy assignment.
If you could be any movie character for one day in real life, who would you be and why?
I would be Karen von Blixen-Finecke, played by Meryl Streep in the movie "Out of Africa". She was an incredibly strong woman who withstood many hardships, living in some of the most beautiful terrain on the planet. I would like to know what it was like to live in Africa back in the '30's, to have the solitude she enjoyed, but also the deep friendships and fascinating conversations with people around her.
If you could travel to a city you've never been to before, all expenses paid, where would you go and why?
I would go to Kathmandu, Nepal. I was born in Ethiopia, lived in many different countries as a child, and climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro for my 50th birthday. I would like to go to Kathmandu, hike some of the Himalayan mountains, and visit some of the many shrines and villages.
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