Chris Bennett is the founder and Chief Product Officer for Callyo, a St. Petersburg-based company that creates innovative mobile technology for law enforcement. Most recently, he and his team of engineers developed i911, a tracking tool for first responders. One of the company’s more prominent services is its 10-21 app, which allows officers to contact citizens directly from their cell phones without disclosing their identity.
Callyo has been called “arguably the most innovative new policing technology in the past 20 years,” while maintaining record satisfaction and renewal rates across 100,000+ officers and 9,000+ agencies.
St. Pete Catalyst: What were your company’s biggest accomplishments in 2018?
Bennett: Grew Callyo to a team of over 30, adding on average 1 new law enforcement agency client per day; Listed on the GovTech 100, recognizing the top companies in government technology; Expanded into a larger St. Pete HQ and opened a second office 5 blocks from the White House in DC; Launched i911 to help first responders more accurately locate emergency callers
St. Pete Catalyst: What was a challenge the company faced in 2018, and what did you learn from it?
Bennett: Scaling a team is hard. Time spent on developing great employees and working on those who aren’t a fit is both the most difficult and most important job in growing a business. I learned though that a strong culture and your company’s core values are the best guides when making tough decisions.
St. Pete Catalyst: What are your goals for the company in 2019?
Bennett: In addition to the usual answers of growth and product development, I’d like to hear more from our customers about how they’re impacting lives through Callyo technology. I reminded the team that, because of their efforts, many children will experience their first holiday season in a safe and loving home. In 2019, my goal is to connect with those investigators and incorporate their stories into our daily work.
St. Pete Catalyst: What business insight (advice or a tip) can you share with readers?
Bennett: It’s a broken record for our regulars at 1 Million Cups, but prove you can build one thing really well that people absolutely love in the shortest time possible. If your key feature isn’t a hit, the other 10 features don’t matter – stop wasting time on them.
St. Pete Catalyst: What was your favorite book, movie in 2018?
Bennett: The book Make Time by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky helped me regain a little sanity (interpretation: how to put down your phone and get things done in a busy day). And the film A Quiet Place is a must-watch. Wait, were both of my choices about entertainment through silence?