When Sam Bowen took the stage at the GigTank demo day on Tuesday afternoon, he talked about everything wrong with corporate training. And he should know. He’s been a trainer throughout most of his career. He has trained professionals in state government, the hospitality industry, and non profit organizations. At one point he even had to train judges, which can be an extremely hard task.
Kicking off his pitch, Bowen said, “I can tell you two things have remained constant, a majority of folks hate training,” which drew a chuckle from the crowd of investors and startup supporters in Chattanooga.The second thing, according to Bowen, is that everyone in the hospitality industry focuses on one number: the annual staff turnover rate. The national average annual staff turnover rate is a whopping 65%.
That’s obviously why everybody hates training. With employee churn that high, business owners, corporate trainers, and HR departments are constantly training new employees to do their regular jobs, making it almost impossible to find the time to teach existing employees new things.
Online training in one form or another has been around for nearly two decades. Text and “module” based training or even “knowledge base” training has fueled big corporations, staffing firms, retailers, and chain restaurants since the 90’s.
The problem with those solutions is, as technology improved, training didn’t. The other key factor is that for more and more busy people, the computer is becoming screen number 2. Screen number one is the phone or tablet.
So Cayman Islands native Bowen, his brother, and their team created Tidbit, a startup that incorporates the smartphone and all its available technology to make training materials easy for the trainer to create and just as easy for the employee to consume. Bowen gave the example of a bakery owner who would be able to use her smartphone’s video camera and microphone to walk employees through how to make her latest cupcake designs. The employees can then in turn, watch the content created by the owner and make the cupcake at the same time.
Hotels could use Tidbit to quickly show an entire fleet of housekeepers some new way of making the beds or where a new piece of flair goes in a room. The employees become more productive by having those training modules in their hand, in the room while they’re doing the job.
For employers that want to allow their employees to access the content from their own device, training becomes something that an employee can do on the bus or at home in some down time without the worry of finding a computer.
There’s an unwritten rule across most accelerators: to wow the investors in the room, they save the best startup for last. Tidbit went last, here’s the video: