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Jun 20, 2020

Bolt on! Meet Part and Sum

Part and Sum is a digitally native innovation and strategy firm, with a unique, built-in growth team. What does that mean? The firm aligns data-driven insights with actionable strategies to help its clients with a simple yet substantial goal: to grow their business. “It’s our superpower,” said Julie Babb, the co-founder and managing director.

By
Alex
Pavlou

US MD & Co-Founder of Bamboo Crowd. I lead our New York office and work with high-growth businesses to build recruiting strategies, employer brands, talent pipelines and networks.

Part and Sum doesn’t “swoop in”, leaving clients with lists of recommendations and no direction. Instead, it “bolts on” to the client, working in tandem to get specific about the big picture.

And, just as its name alludes to, the firm recognizes that its strength lies in its people. “The reason why the whole is greater than the sum of its parts speaks to this, the whole reason to build a team and a business is because you have this collective knowledge, experience, and wisdom that is powerful. If you don’t tap into that, then what’s the point,” she said. “And because it’s so important, we’ve been able to maintain this culture, remotely.”

Part and Sum is ten people large, with two key teams: Every client engagement is composed of both technologists and strategists. Technologists, for example, bring data skills to gain insights and “nerd out on models”, among other things. “If a client comes to us with a scotch-taped-together tech stack, we’ll know right away. And we’ll make recommendations for when it’s worth it to invest in making the tech stack better or when it’s not worth it, and we’ll focus on something else,” Julie said. The complementary role of the strategists is to help define and prioritize roadmaps. “We hire for skills like design thinking, workshop facilitation and research,” Julie said.

I expect our team to be able to give good business advice. I want them to have skin in the game on our own business
Julie Babb, Founder

“Everyone has such different backgrounds. Half of our team have owned and grown their own businesses; it’s a very entrepreneurial group,” Julie said. And close to 80 percent have been a team member at an early-stage start-up business, she explained. “People who know how to wear a lot of hats, figure things out, and empathize with a variety of stakeholders and roles,” she said.

Julie describes the team as “super collaborative”. Before COVID-19, it was important for her to have everyone in one place. “We didn’t recruit remote workers, though we had a flexible work from home policy,” Julie said. “My priorities have changed for the business. Prior, Part and Sum was at Camp David, A creative co-working space in Industry City, Brooklyn.

Julie continues this collaboration through now-virtual activities like a “retro”, in which the team talks about things they’re happy about from the week, things that are confusing, and things that are disappointing. The second half, the team actions those items, to chart a path forward. 

Another unique thing about Part and Sum is that it offers quarterly profit sharing with team members as well as an equity program. “I expect our team to be able to give good business advice. I want them to have skin in the game on our own business,” Julie said.

We are privileged enough to be able to do our work remotely. It is our obligation to do this to create space in the world for people who don’t have this privilege and can’t do work remotely
Julie Babb, Founder

Part and Sum appears poised for potential industry shifts that may happen as a result of COVID-19. First, it’s seizing the moment to lean in and help; the firm offers a resource for COVID marketing, for example. Further, one of its focus areas is direct to consumer, e-commerce-style strategies. “I imagine this work is only going to grow. It makes us excited about the future; it’s an area in which we already have expertise. Also, being digitally native and understanding what those touchpoints are,” Julie said.

Returning to the familiar topic of how we’re all navigating workplace transformation right now, Julie and her team bring a refreshing perspective. “We are privileged enough to be able to do our work remotely. It is our obligation to do this to create space in the world for people who don’t have this privilege and can’t do work remotely,” Julie said. “Us staying home can make their lives safer and easier. It’s good to face this reality, because then you learn to adjust.”

Alex Pavlou
Meet Alex

Co-Founder & US Growth Lead

Build & Executive Search — New York

“Alex helped scale my team in ways that never would have been possible”

Head of Design, Alibaba