While many businesses struggled in 2020, Christine Tao’s virtual coaching startup Sounding Board began thriving, raising $13.1 million in funding.
Sounding Board offers remote professional coaching to company leaders ranging from high-level executives to first-time managers. “Our mission is to help create the world’s most impactful leaders,” says Tao.
Though investors were initially skeptical when Tao pitched the idea in 2016, the necessity for coaching became apparent when the pandemic shifted workers online.
“Managers were having to figure out: ‘How do I lead a team if I’m remote? How do I help employees prioritize their tasks?’” Tao says. “Those kinds of remote management and leadership skills are very much in demand.”
Tao herself realized the benefits of coaching while serving in her first executive leadership position. Her employer provided her a coach—future Sounding Board co-founder Lori Mazan.
Mazan’s influence included helping Tao to always exude confidence when speaking. “Leadership is often about other people’s perception of your actions,” Tao says. “Lori helped me understand behaviors I was doing that weren’t serving me.”
The woman-led Sounding Board also has an all-female board and a global network of hundreds of coaches. Its client list includes Bloomberg, Conagra, Dropbox, and Chime.
Tao, who still uses a coach to further her leadership growth, says it’s the kind of learning that offers a win-win for companies and employees. “If you invest in your people early, not only will it benefit them,” she says, “it benefits the company because you can better lead your teams.”