Shared from the 11/29/2020 The Columbus Dispatch eEdition

Norwegian tech firm plants its flag in Columbus



As a native of Fairfield County, veteran marketing executive Jennifer Brown was familiar with the benefits of doing business in central Ohio.

In 2018, Brown, whose previous career stops included General Motors and L Brands, found herself working a long way from home — as the chief marketing officer of the Norwegian tech startup Decisions, which produces an app, known as an “add-in,” that is embedded into Microsoft Office 365 programs to make meetings, in-person and virtual, more effective and efficient.

The following year, Brown found herself headed back to Columbus to oversee the opening of Decisions’ U.S. headquarters. Today, 11 out of the company’s 30 employees are based here, which Brown describes as having a desirable mix of strong talent and a low cost of living.

In a recent interview, Brown, 40, discussed what differentiates Decisions’ app — and the things that set her home state apart, too.

Question: What are the efficiencies clients can generate by using the app?

Brown: There is the collaboration and engagement piece, and then there is what I would call the productivity piece. We find that, pretty quickly, people see an increase in how attendees prepare for a meeting. They’re reading materials ahead of time, they’re coming ready to have discussions and make decisions in the meetings. From a productivity perspective, we see significant gains.

Especially if you’re dealing with what we would call a high-value meeting — a project meeting, executive meeting, board of directors — those who coordinate those meetings see about a 30% time savings. Decisions automates so many of the processes. Additionally, we start to see people having fewer meetings because things are accomplished that need to be accomplished in the meetings they have.

Q: How does the app help with virtual meetings?

Brown: Meetings that were already kind of poorly run and wasting people’s time just get worse in virtual meetings. People don’t know how to coordinate. They’re just not skilled. How do you coordinate discussion when you don’t have verbal cues, like someone sort of raising their hand or you can’t really see their mouth starting to talk all the time? Those nonverbal cues that we get in an in-person meeting are gone with virtual meetings, so I think where Decisions really steps in is: We’re going to give you some structure so that you can really run an efficient meeting virtually.

Q: What was the driving force behind wanting to set down roots in the U.S.?

Brown: It’s hard to service even our existing customers when there’s always a 6- to 9-hour time difference, when you take into account our team in India as well. Having a presence in the U.S. is not only great for new customer acquisition, but it’s also important to make sure we are where are customers are so that we can give them the support that they need in a timely manner. If you’ve got an urgent board meeting or an urgent executive meeting, and there’s any kind of product challenge, you want to get someone on the phone right away.

Q: How did you persuade leaders at Decisions to make Columbus its U.S. hub?

Brown: We had been talking about, “When is the right time to open a U.S. office?” I had been thinking if I wanted to come back or not (and) wanted to return to the U.S. The leadership team (was) thinking Seattle because we’re so closely tied to Microsoft. I started talking about Columbus. Whether it was Columbus or Indy or Pittsburgh or Detroit, (we) just started talking about both that perfect blend of affordability to run a business still with really great talent, and a community where we could make a difference.

When you start getting into the coastal cities, especially a tech company in Seattle and San Francisco and that area, you’re just a drop in the bucket. How do you compete for talent in a market like Seattle when there’s a Starbucks and Amazon and Microsoft?

While we are very retail-centric in central Ohio, we aren’t entirely reliant on retail. There’s just a really nice diversity of industry in the city. It ended up being quite an easy decision to make once we looked at numbers and those elements. There’s something very exciting and rewarding about saying, “I can give back in a meaningful way to this community that I care so much about and that I think so highly of.”

Peter Tonguette is a freelance writer for Columbus CEO, a sister publication to The Dispatch. For the full story on Decisions, visit

See this article in the e-Edition Here