Robert Crooks: SOTERIA120 Works With Companies That Need a Better Solution To Manage the Risks Faced by Their Frontline Workforce Than Typical Training and Management

Soteria120 works with companies that need a better solution to manage the risks faced by their frontline workforce than typical training and management.

Whether the risks are physical or psychological safety, business risks related to cybersecurity or information compliance, or even performance related, we get results and save our clients money.

We believe in what we are doing because the traditional approaches barely work at all, and this means money, and even lives are being lost.

Our mission is to save lives and improve workforce welfare. We do this by combining technology from adaptive learning to AI-driven data analytics to provide continuous training and assessment of worker capabilities.

What our clients get is a better educated, better informed, and better protected workforce that LOVES the experience, engaging with our app daily to build up their skills and confidence.

Tell us about yourself?

I spent decades delivering “training” the old fashioned ways: in a classroom, online, eLearning, and even at the worksite or in the gym. I saw how inefficient, slow, and bureaucratic it was. I also saw how ineffective it was, especially given how expensive it was.

I escaped the corporate world, building my own consulting practice to push back against those challenges. I joined an indsutry association for trainers and instructional designers. I took on a leadership position in that organization.

But clients kept pulling me back to those broken practices, demanding what they were familiar with, what felt good despite the data showing they were wasting their time and money.

My industry colleagues expressed the same frustrations, but just kept putting out the same boring, ineffective learning solutions.

Then I stumbled across vendors who were using a new type of learning technology: Adaptive microlearning. If you’ve ever used a language app like Duolingo, you’ll be familiar with the format.

When applied to workplace skills though, and with some changes to how the data is handled on the backend, it’s incredibly powerful; and way cheaper than traditional learning that costs upwards of $500 per produced minute of content.

When I met up with an old colleague and discussed this new tech, we realized that if we could push it into the safety and compliance training world it would not only make that training way more enjoyable and cheaper than the classroom training that dominates that industry, but it would also prevent injuries and save lives.

How? Because we knew, from industry data and from our personal experience as trainers, that people forget almost everything from those classes the second they get their certificate.

Even though we now cover way more topics than construction safety and have added a ton of features to our platform, saving lives and delivering better workplace learning is still the core of what drives us.

If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

Don’t give up – you’ll get there! Put more time and effort into networking, practicing your pitch, and crafting the message.

Don’t spend money on shortcuts, they usually turn into long detours that put you right back where you started.

What problem does your business solve?

Soteria120 works with companies that need a better solution to manage the risks faced by their frontline workforce than typical training and management.

Whether the risks are physical or psychological safety, business risks related to cybersecurity or information compliance, or even performance related, we get results and save our clients money.

This translates to a 3-layered value proposition:

  1. A better workplace training tool. By spreading learning out over time, delivering more training content in smaller doses we save time and money while delivering way stickier training results. Workers remember, and develop confidence in the things they need to know to maximize their capabilities.
  2. A continuous certification system that indicates precisely what each worker can do, and how well they can do it TODAY. This is in contrast to tradtional systems that just tell you whether or not a worker passed a short quiz and sat in a classroom or in front of a screen passively at some point in the last few years. Traditional systems tell you almost nothing about what that worker knows now, let alone what they’re likely to do with that knowledge. They have almost no validity.
  3. Data analytics and dashboard that combine multiple streams of data on worker capabilities and performance to measure each worker’s risk associated with each task in their job description. This allows clients to predict- and therefore prevent negative events, while making positive events more likely.

What is the inspiration behind your business?

Traditional training sucks. I used to sell it, build it, manage it, deliver it, and I personally hate it. I can’t sit through an eLearning course. I have no patience for video training. I fall asleep in a classroom. Worse, most of it is unnecessary because its barely related to job performance.

And its just heartbreaking to see people getting injured, killed, or just plain old screwing up on things they’re supposedly trained on.

Less poignant, but also important, is that it doesn’t actually provide the regulatory compliance and legal protection that corporate clients are looking for–let alone any moral protection.

I’ve heard from executives in charge of industrial and construction projects where there has been a worker fatality. Even if that worker was a sub-sub-subcontractor, in western countries, you’re still facing fines, legal costs, and plant or project performance impacts.

And then you still have to get to sleep at night. This is all just unacceptable to me. If I can’t sleep at night, thinking about that, how can the executives?

Are they just ignoring the fact that their chosen solution to the problem: terrible training, isn’t working? Once we show them that a better way exists, how could they not use it?

What is your magic sauce?

We are laser focused on the welfare of the frontline workforce. Regardless of the industry, or the particular topic or skill we’re developing a program for, that’s always our priority filter: which project will improve workforce welfare the most, in the shortest time?

We have a unique, agile program development process that allows us to do more with less, quicker. We pair that with sort of a snowball approach to building and integrating technology with our platform. We’re not trying to build technology that already exists.

As long as it furthers that goal of workforce welfare, we’d rather bring it in, license it, and integrate it with our platform. More companies should do that. Imagine if every company had to develop it’s own word processor, or slide show software.

Crazy. So why does everyone want to build so much of their own tech stack?

What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?

We’re nibbling away at opportunities to implement our full platform with some very big corporations. We just want one or two of those contracts in the next few years and we’ll easily be able to spend 5 years building, testing, integrating, and collecting data.

That goes for the software as well as the team and the customer service/stakeholder management model. That translates to millions in annual revenue, a full time team the size of a high school classroom, and all the momentum we’ll need to scale rapidly from there.

In terms of impact it means hundred of millions in savings for our clients. More importantly, if we can demonstrate that we’ve prevented even a single serious injury or fatality, we’ll have achieved everything I could ask for.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

Staying focused. There are so many things we need to build, other things we want to build, and so many opportunities to help potential clients that we’ve flailed around at least as much as any other startup.

We’re not experienced startup entrepreneurs. Everything we’re doing is new to us and new to the market. So we’ve gone down a lot of paths that haven’t panned out. Now that we’re getting tractions and sales, it’s easy to look back and say “oh all these things were obviously not the right direction.”

So the challenge has been knowing where to aim our limited resources, paired with trying to find more resources. It’s been a tough time because we started this project just before COVID hit. The market was NOT paying attention to this space.

How do people get involved/buy into your vision?

We’re looking for the same things all tech startups need: team members, funds, and customers. We entertain all proposals. But we’re also starting a movement. We have to educate the market that this kind of solution to performance problems even exists.

That the corporate and compliance training that everyone hates isn’t just unpleasant, it’s garbage and there are better options. So we’re looking for followers on our socials, especially LinkedIn.

We’re looking for interested parties and influencers who buy into the vision and want to spread the word – not just collect a cheque.

If you’ve ever taken a training course and felt dehumanized, infantilized, or just frustrated at how dumb the process is (even if the teacher was awesome) we want to hear from you. We want stories, ideas, and allies.

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