March 1, 2021



Smartsheet sets sail in round-the-world race with female skipper, and its first sports sponsorship

British sailor Pip Hare and her yacht which is partially sponsored by Bellevue-based Smartsheet. (Instagram Photos via @piphareoceanracing)

In taking on its first sports sponsorship, Bellevue, Wash.-based collaborative work management company Smartsheet chose an athlete, sport and event which all key on buzzwords well suited to inspiring its own workforce and customers.

Determination. Problem-solving. Resilience.

Pip Hare will need all of that and more as she sails around the world by herself in the non-stop Vendée Globe yacht race. She’s doing it in a boat that is partially sponsored by Smartsheet, whose name is emblazoned on the craft’s foresail.

The 24,296-mile race – billed as the greatest in the world and the “Everest of the seas” – started Nov. 8 in Les Sables d’Olonne, France. It has featured female skippers just seven times since 1989. Hare is among six women competing this year against 27 men.

“This is Smartsheet’s first sports sponsorship because we were deeply aligned and believed in her mission,” a company spokesperson told GeekWire on Wednesday. “Her determination to challenge the industry norm, compete in the Vendée Globe and show the world a new way continues to inspire our team.”

Smartsheet has a web page dedicated to learning more about Hare, a 46-year-old English yachtswoman who says that she wanted to compete in the race “because it’s one of the toughest sporting events on the planet” and she knows she’s “capable of a hell of a lot more than anybody ever thinks when they look at me. ”

Smartsheet has also built a dashboard on its own platform to track Hare’s progress. The dashboard includes a real-time competition map where fans can track Hare’s location on the course against other racers. Statistics also allow a deeper dive on such things as speed, weather conditions, Hare’s health metrics and first-hand insights into what she is experiencing.

On Wednesday, Hare was currently 23rd out of 32 racers.

A screen shot of the Smartsheet dashboard that is tracking racer Pip Hare and her boat Medallia.

Smartsheet, which went public in 2018, now has approximately 84,000 domain-based customers that use the company’s software for project management and other collaborative work. While the race is its first sports sponsorship, Smartsheet points to a few sports-related companies that already rely on its platform, including Burton Snowboards, Spartan Race, and Arc’teryx.

And Smartsheet CEO Mark Mader offered up his own brand of seaworthy inspiration a few years ago at GeekWire Startup Day when he shared 14 tips for smooth sailing in business.

The company isn’t shying away from using the extreme nature of the Vendée Globe race and Hare’s story to sell a hardcore brand of business grit, saying on one of its websites that the sponsorship is dedicated to anyone who dares to dream.

“This race is about Pip refusing to accept the limitations placed on her. Instead, she will take the helm and let her determination drive her, ”Smartsheet wrote. “It is this spirit, this enduring desire to set a goal, focus, and work dynamically as conditions change to cross the finish line, that drives us at Smartsheet. We feel the same determination from you – our customers, the can-doers, who believe anything is possible. ”