2021 is a tumultuous year, to say the least. Despite the ups and downs, we were grateful to have received the 2021 Future Leader of the Year - Entrepreneurship Award from The American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai.
Our CEO, Matt Spriegel, spoke to Insight, The Journal of AmCham Shanghai, about Atiom's beginning, journey, and the road ahead.
What inspired you to create Atiom?
I was working in the healthcare industry before Atiom, and the idea came when I was sitting in a classroom setting for eight hours a day, six days in a row for professional training. I did this kind of training twice while I was at the company and my thinking was ‘For companies that require employees to stay up to date and up to standard on critical information, why are we only doing this type of training once or twice a year? If it’s relevant training content we should really be doing it every day.’
If there’s relevant training, especially around standards, product knowledge or safety, then we should be learning it forever while we’re working at the company, not just doing one-offs, because learning has a compound interest. Through building Atiom, we never intended to replace in-person training; it’s meant to be a complementary tool that gets people up to speed quickly. By giving people something to learn or engage with every day it builds a much stronger connection between the managers and the frontline staff.
What other platforms inspired you as you developed Atiom?
The two key ones were Duolingo – one of the largest bite-sized language learning platforms in the world – and an app called Elevate, which is for general learning and memory games like spelling, math, and grammar. Those inspired us around the idea of bite-sized content delivery and everyday learning. Five minutes every day is far more effective than one hour or two hours once a month.
How can Atiom help companies create a healthier work culture and improve company performance?
You can teach or inspire your team every day to grow and learn; it’s definitely going to benefit the company culture. On a more practical level, we do a lot of compliance, service standards and safety training on Atiom. Delivery of bite-sized training and engagement everyday helps keep people up to standard and on their toes to perform on the job. It’s not just about increasing revenue but also making sure that people are safe on the job and mitigating risks for the company.
What has feedback been like from clients?
During Covid it helped managers stay in touch with their remote workforce. It’s a whole new era of communication and engagement with frontline teams – it’s a newly distributed workforce, so the teams and the companies we’ve worked with have been very happy with Atiom. Not as a replacement for HR or training, but as a complement, because it’s hard to get frontline teams to everything every day.
How has Covid and the subsequent movement to remote work impacted Atiom?
When Covid came, we, like many other businesses, struggled to find new clients and new business, but our existing customers leaned into Atiom during that time. We’re a mobile-first platform, so it was easy to keep everyone connected and to deliver critical updates, which is being done to this day even as the dust is settling in China. As people are adjusting to this re-distributed workforce, I think they see a big need to digitize and we’re a very easy solution to help managers communicate and train their frontline teams.
How does Atiom’s gamification training framework improve employee training and engagement?
Number one is bite-sized content delivery. Whenever an employee goes ionto Atiom, they’re not going to spend more than five to ten minutes during a session. Number two is a spaced repetition learning algorithm. Every person’s account is personalized, so they’re only going to get content that is relevant to themselves.
The third part is that we have different algorithms to get people to go back every day to create a habit for training and communication. Atiom’s framework starts with Gamification 1.0, which includes leaderboards, point systems and badges. And then we have Gamification 2.0, which comes with you’re a customized rewards wheel, interactive items, daily quests – rewards that you get for frequent learning. . If you go back every day you get point boosts and more chances to win prizes in exchange for company rewards, rather than just completing activities one or two times a week.
What have been some of your biggest challenges since founding Atiom?
Definitely Covid. When we were going into Covid we were growing very fast on new business and that was halted.
Also, being first-time founders. When we first started, we worked with lots of different companies like Chanel, Porsche and Mandarin Oriental, and I think we spread ourselves too thin across the different industries; we probably should have been more targeted. Now we’ve done well in facility services, hospitality and real estate, and it’s a bit easier to expand from there.
What is it about those industries that makes it appealing to expand in those areas?
The main appeal for us and for them is that they are compliance-first organizations. Whereas training, development and standards are nice to have in some industries, these are must-haves in industries where people’s lives are at risk. In manufacturing, shipping and real estate, safety is number one. They’re going for zero risk, zero errors, zero fatalities on the job, so these organizations are a good fit for our service.
What are your goals for Atiom in the future?
The short and medium-term goal is to be the leading software solution and service for frontline teams in training and engagement in Asia.
The above article was published on Insight's Nov/Dec 2021 Issue. Read more here.