Cognotion Rethinks How Companies Train Workers

Unemployment is a serious problem, but getting hired isn’t an automatic solution. Many entry-level employees are apathetic about their jobs, and this can quickly hurt a company’s brand.

A new startup, Cognotion, aims to solve that problem by making training for entry-level employees a fun experience that teaches work skills through a series of interactive videos.

joanna schneier

Cognotion co-found Joanna Schneier | Photo: Cognotion

For 10 years, co-founders Joanna Schneier and Jonathan Dariyanani have been trying to find ways to improve learning for non-traditional students. Cognotion was founded two years ago when Schneier and Dariyanani recognized that many employees first enter the workforce as frontline workers, often at hotels or restaurants.

These workers need training that is engaging and effective, and Cognotion is stepping up. “We are passionate about serving them and improving their productivity,” said Schneier.

There have been challenges along the way, especially before the company began. “We received a distribution agreement from a large publisher and spent the next year building a product that in the end the publisher did not end up distributing,” said Schneier. “We made a classic mistake of building a product we wanted, instead of building to customer’s demands.”

The co-founders learned from their mistakes, and now over 60,000 people have used Cognotion’s videos for training.

That’s just the beginning, said Schneier.

“Our lofty goal is to reimagine corporate training for today’s workforce,” she said. How can Cognotion do this? By integrating fun and learning like “Sesame Street,” while reinventing training just like “The Sopranos” changed TV, she explained.

The training videos help employees to understand company policies or provide exceptional service, and the scenarios in the videos actually look realistic. And they’re fun to watch. Cognotion videos also ask for a user’s input to make sure the trainee is engaged and learning the material.

“Our products take the best practices of filmmaking and game design and build on solid learning science to produce products that improve employee productivity but are done in a way that employees enjoy the training,” said Schneier.

The enjoyment part is key. Entry-level employees are often put through training that seems redundant, boring, and unhelpful. For many companies, Cognotion videos could be just the way to help ensure consistent quality without destroying employee morale at the outset.

The startup world isn’t easy. Schneier even said the start up world can be a “mind game.” “It requires audacity and perseverance and the ability to step way outside of your comfort zone.”

Daniel Huizinga is a columnist for Opportunity Lives covering business and politics. Follow him on Twitter @HuizingaDaniel.