Swae pilot program launched to help demonstrate that employee feedback and insights can drive business performance and that hearing all voices is an essential ingredient for an evolving culture and workplace.
EMC Insurance Companieswas founded in 1911 and is built on more than 110 years of serving policyholders and independent insurance agents. EMC employs more than 2,400 employees in 19 locations across the United States and is in the top 60 property/casualty organizations and is one of the largest in Iowa, based on net written premium. (Source:https://www.emcins.com/)
Over the years, EMC developed a perspective about what innovation means to them: it is more than technology: innovation is about building a culture of trust and encouraging innovative thinking by empowering employees and discovering unique ways that strengthen the organization and serve customers in new ways.
To further these intentions, EMC and Swae will be working closely to leverage Swae’s platform and offline capabilities to help crowdsource ideas from a larger pool of employees, empower leadership across the enterprise to drive deeper collaboration efforts, and unleash more creativity for workplace improvement and innovation.
Swae, a Platform for Voice and Action Unlike Others on the Market
While there are a lot of ways to give employees a voice inside EMC currently — from engagement surveys to learning sessions and focus groups — there are gaps with these instruments in turning voice into action and potential decisions that lead to workplace improvement or innovation. Partnering with Swae is intended to fill these gaps by giving everyone a safe, formal, and merit-based process for expressing ideas, making decisions, and identifying potential solutions that can be prioritized efficiently with the help of the crowd and gain deeper engagement.
According to Mary Harvey, Business Innovation Specialist within EMC’s Innovation Team,“In this pilot, we are bringing team members together to shape the future of how we share ideas across EMC.”
Swae’s mission is to empower unheard voices within organizations to ensure that leaders can identify problems and hear about investable solutions quickly. Another driving goal is to help leaders hear the truth of what’s going on inside their organization so they can better prioritize and reduce the potential biases in important strategic decisions.
Swae’s driving goals is precisely what Angela Noble, Vice President of Innovation and Lead of EMC’s Innovation Team, is hoping the pilot program and platform will help EMC begin to achieve:
“We hope Swae will help us fill gaps by giving team members a voice and highlighting what’s most important to our people. This will also empower leadership to know what’s most important, respond to ideas and make decisions.
Pilot Success? High but Achievable Expectations
We know Swae can have a major impact in large companies like EMC on many levels — from encouraging deeper engagement, boosting morale and trust, to sourcing challenges and solutions to drive workplace improvement and the innovation strategy — all of which can truly transform the way leaders include others in sourcing challenges, finding solutions, and making better decisions faster. Some problems within large organizations can’t be discovered unless you have everyone’s input. From past implementations, by using Swae, leaders were able to hear problems they didn’t even know existed and unleashed the creativity of their own people to solve their organization’s problems.
EMC’s Innovation Leader Angela Noble has high expectations of Swae,
“We hope Swae is the platform that empowers team members to share ideas safely, enables leaders to understand team member priorities, and creates opportunities to respond and make decisions in an efficient, transparent way that supports the innovative culture we’re building at EMC. ”
We’re excited to help Angela, Mary, employees and the leadership at EMC achieve these results at the end of this pilot!
Swae Celebrates New Partnership with William and Eugene Eisenman: Experienced Technology Executives & Angel Investors With Winning Track Record of Turning Early-Stage Risk Into Scaleable Success
LEAD ANGEL INVESTORS IN SWAE
William Eisenman is a former Captain in the US Navy. He graduated in three years with a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Chemistry concurrently. During his first year of college, the Navy was actively recruiting him to join the CBRN division. After joining, he quickly rose through the ranks to become one of the youngest Captains in the military for his time. After his time in the military, he transitioned into the technology sector. He has held various executive and leadership roles throughout his career in tech. He is most well-known for his accomplishments at Netflix, where he is the architect behind the Video Streaming Platform, and at Palm, where he developed the WebOS platform.
William and Eugene Eisenman, along with their other investment partner, operate a family office. William and Eugene Eisenman are a father and son angel investing duo. Some of their team’s past successful angel investments include early positions in Netflix, Callaway Golf, MD Pharmaceuticals, and others, reminding us of the Greek myth of Midas, whose touch turned everything to gold (taking all of the positives of that myth into context here).
We’re extremely excited to announce that they have become Swae’s Lead Investors in Swae’s seed round, and we’re ecstatic as to what this partnership will bring to Swae as a whole.
“Those that invest in Swae become part of our startup family. We develop a strategic and close working relationship with each of our investors so that we can together advance Swae’s platform and offer to develop more powerful ways to bring value to the world.” — Soushiant Zanganehpour
Already, William and Eugene have spent countless hours conducting due diligence on Swae, reviewing the code base of the platform, UX/UI, and AI systems. They’ve shared important feedback and will continue doing so since William will also be joining Swae’s Advisory Board, bringing his years of experience to bear on important strategic decisions.
We believe William and Eugene will be a vital source of intelligence for improving Swae’s platform, offering, user experience, and developing innovations outside of our existing roadmap.
Soushiant Zanganehpour, CEO of Swae, sat down with William and Eugene Eisenman to learn more about their decision to invest in Swae, and the interview is below. In the interview, we learn about who the duo are and what potential and the hidden value they saw in Swae that compelled them to lead our Seed Round.
Their unique outlook and support to help Swae exceed its goals in 2021 is a thrilling start to the new year!
INTERVIEW WITH ANGEL INVESTORS, WILLIAM AND EUGENE EISENMAN
During my time at Capgemini, I worked with various clients across different sectors like aviation, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, semiconductors, financial, technology, etc. My teams and I were advising these companies on potential acquisitions, scoping out new business opportunities, creating new divisions to go after those markets, scaling their entire business operations quickly and efficiently, amongst other things.
As I was boarding a plane to meet a few clients, I received a random call from someone at a startup called Netflix. I let them know that we could schedule a time to meet after I got back from my trip to discuss some of the issues they were facing at the time. After my business trip, we met up for lunch, and I was asked to look over their entire processes.
There were No NDAs at the time, so it was relatively easy to gain visibility into their operations and contribute feedback quickly. At that time, they had about a thousand users (1000) and were renting out the DVDs at .25 cents each and shipping them to customers.
They were hemorrhaging money because the cost of sending a DVD was more than the price they charged each customer per DVD rental. My military background and my management consulting experience allowed me to look at their operations and see clearly “this isn’t going to work.” So while we were finishing up lunch, on the back of a paper napkin, I wrote out what I thought it should have been versus what it actually was.
Within a couple of weeks of implementing the changes I had suggested, they reported that they stopped the bleeding and credited me for saving them millions! I was invited back for another lunch, and before I left the lunch meeting, to get into my car and drive away, their VP of Operations, Former CEO Marc Randolph, and now current CEO Reed Hastings chased me down and hired me on the spot!
After I joined, in about 1998/1999, I helped successfully scale their DVD business and switched the revenue model from charging .25 cents per DVD to a monthly subscription service for $19.99.
During this time, I was also pushing them to explore video streaming (though that isn’t what we called it then) because I knew that mailing DVDs one at a time was completely unscalable in the long run regardless of how much we had scaled. I felt that DVDs were going to be a stop-gap between VHS and Streaming. I knew that bringing the content directly to people’s televisions and computers would be the wave of the future, which would reduce the marginal cost of delivery significantly, allowing them to focus on having the best content.
I remember saying to Reed Hastings that we would have to change Netflix’s revenue model to a subscription plan because we didn’t have a good recurring revenue stream.
Even with a subscription before streaming was possible, a consumer could only really rent about 8 discs/month with the mail transactions because of shipping times being 3–5 business days. Originally there were hard limits to their consumption. At the 0.25 cents customers would be paying per video, and we couldn’t even afford the return mail on each transaction.
We were paying 0.57 cents to send a consumer with a return address already provided. This problem was creating huge deficits.
As a transitional step, I implemented technology and automation to assist the sorting and mailing process to get away from the manually laborious and costly process for sending discs to consumers. We brought in a sorting machine similar to the ones in USPS.
I would send data to this sorting machine to segregate each subscriber’s DVD automatically and help with sorting and pre-preparation for the mail delivery. This system, along with Certified mail, helped us improve unit economics and bring down the costs of servicing each customer from .57 cents to about 0.18–0.20 cents, so we were finally making some money.
However, the situation wasn’t sustainable. When I would look at the whole big picture, I could see that wasn’t going to work, even with the subscription model. I also felt like DVDs were going to be a stop-gap technology between VHS and Streaming.
We needed video streaming and a subscription-based business model to make this company viable and sustainable. With the combination of subscriptions and streaming, I believed that we could focus on curating and creating the best content available. I knew that hitting economies of scale was inevitable. I could just see it.
The rest, I guess you can say, is history!
When he was a Netflix, I was there sitting in many meetings with the leadership team, and they asked me questions about what I thought, to actively beta testing and giving my feedback on the UX/UI of the video streaming platform. At Palm, I was a beta tester for the WebOS platform to find potential bugs or issues and provide feedback on the phone design. I actually helped catch a critical error that the QA team missed, which helped save the company millions of dollars.
I also worked at Alom technologies [where William currently works], where I conceptualized and led the charge to create a fully integrated autonomous warehouse. The fully integrated warehouse utilizes advanced robotics, AI, and Machine Learning to improve and scale all aspects of supply chain logistics for Alom and its customers.
I help create a few features that utilize AI and Machine Learning to choose the most optimal shipping route, the best shipping service to use, and the lowest cost possible. The AI also accounts for potential problems for each company’s supply chain and will actively reroute each customer’s entire supply chain and packages in transit to avoid delays from things like natural disasters in real-time.
Another feature I help create uses Alom’s customer data to forecast potential demand each day of the year. The AI utilizes this data and advanced robotics to continuously optimize daily warehouse inventory flow accounting for potential demand to ensure that all customer’s orders are fulfilled with speed and precision.
The integrated warehouse has allowed Alom to provide more advanced technical features and offerings. These key technological advances empower Alom to continue to service its growing roster of customers, including Fortune 500 companies like Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Walmart, Tesla, Ford, General Motors, McKesson, Genentech, Pfizer, Moderna, and many promising startups like 23andme and Color.
With everything that I mentioned before, you would think I had a degree in something related to tech, but my background is actually in Finance.
When I graduated from school, I started working at Goldman Sachs. I quickly realized I would rather work in the venture capital and private equity space, so I started out doing secondary market transactions for VCs and founders, getting liquidity for their shares. I’ve since led the sourcing and diligence process of several of our potential Angel Investments for our family office. I also act as an operating partner that is actively helping founders with product improvement, UX/UI, and other aspects as necessary to help them out in any way that we can.
My choices could either cause harm to members within our military, or I could find solutions that would get the job done and keep us all safe. If you were overseeing departments in the military, you would be tasked with dealing with the department budgets. I was fortunate enough to be blessed with the burden of always getting less money than I asked for and told to accomplish the same goal anyway.
This time in my life taught me many great skills and lessons that have been a foundation for my military and tech career. I learned leadership, how to carefully assess and manage risk, accomplishing goals with limited resources, and learned that change is the only constant you either change to win or try to cope with the change.
When I transitioned to the technology world, I worked for Read-Rite, a semiconductor company built on chemical engineering. I was Head of Technology Innovations, where I essentially created and built out the Innovation group.
Because of my strong chemistry background, I had the technical foundation and requisite skills to jump in and be useful immediately.
But when we began manufacturing, I realized that I was a natural systems thinker and had a knack at looking at multifaceted systems with multiple moving parts and could see ways to make them better. After realizing I am a systems thinker that was attuned to risk, I could present solutions to optimize processes.
When I left Read-Rite, they were one of the top two semiconductor companies in the world. Read-rite certainly wasn’t a safe bet when I first joined and were maybe in the top fifteen at the time. After I left, within five to seven years, they were out of business because they thought far enough ahead of everybody and stopped innovating.
When I joined Palm, they were one of three industry-leading telecommunications companies at the time. The other two industry-leading companies were Nokia and Blackberry. Now the industry leaders are Samsung and Apple. Those three companies, Nokia, Blackberry, and Palm, all got beat out by companies that weren’t even making cellphones.
During my time at Palm, I joined to create the next innovative phone. I developed the WebOS platform with the intent to build an all-touchscreen phone similar to Apple’s iPhone. Everyone in that space knows that building an OS system is the most important thing and making a good OS system is really difficult.
The phone design is a lot easier, and changes can be done pretty quickly. Unfortunately, Palm wasn’t willing to change. They wanted to stick with the Palm Pilot and PalmOS platform that made them famous. They were content to keep making the same Palm Pilot, making a few changes here and there. All of these companies stopped innovating, Palm specifically went out of business five years later and got bought only for my WebOS platform. The same fate could be in store for Samsung and Apple if they stop innovating.
The only company that still exists today that I worked for is Netflix, and they are now a household name that changed the way society consumes content and entertainment. We went from sending DVDs in the mail directly to customers to successfully curating and creating the best content possible for consumers to watch via streaming. Netflix is the only company that was willing to continually innovate and kill their existing business to that point in order to continue to succeed.
There isn’t any company or investment with a zero risk factor, which is fine with us. There is a risk in everything, but the way I look at it is that you can either be a part of the company, causes or leads all the disruption or innovation, or be a part of the company that is getting disrupted by innovation.
When in doubt, we always choose disruption and innovation over the status quo.
We like to choose the company causing all the disruption, whether that be in public markets or investing in startups looking to disrupt larger companies across sectors. In the greatest win or take all economy, change is the only constant; you either change to win or cope with the change when you lose. Every single company has the possibility to go out of business in a short period of time if they stop innovating and stop playing to win. There is no safe bet except to continually bet on change, which is the driving force behind disruption and innovation.
I assess opportunities by stepping backward, looking at the entire picture, and finding out where all the octopus tentacles go, mapping all potential opportunities.That is why we’re investing in Swae. We feel like Swae has the potential to be the platform that allows companies to see all the opportunities for growth, new business, and changing with times. We believe Swae can be the tool that keeps you at the forefront of innovation instead of being that company getting disrupted by everybody else. There are a lot of great places and opportunities for Swae to go!
For example, my grandfather was also in the Navy, so my father’s family moved around a lot, going from base to base. He grew up in Japan and then in Germany before they immigrated to the US when my father was around the age of 10–11. He taught himself to speak fluent English just from watching six months’ worth of television.
That same year my father immigrated to the US, the principal at his school realized he was incredibly gifted and offered his parents the opportunity to let my father skip grades 7–12 to go directly to college. His parents didn’t think that an 11-year-old should be at university at such a young age by himself because he was still just a child. With the principal’s help, they were able to enroll him as an 11 year old into the local community college. During his time there, he was enrolled in classes, became a teacher’s assistant, and even began teaching multiple courses by the end of his first year attending that community college.
Another example comes to mind. When my father was enrolled in university, he received both his Bachelor’s and Master’s in Chemistry concurrently in three years, a feat that is impressive in itself. Anyways, when professors assigned labs, he would always write out what the lab results would be and just turn it in without actually doing the lab experiment because he did the entire lab in his head. He was always able to conceptualize what the answer should and would be. He’s always been able to see how things are going to unfold.
As a final example, my father had a semester-long project that involved tracking fruit flies with genetic defects. This process is pretty painstaking slow and took a lot of time to complete. My father was attending university full-time to complete his dual degrees and juggled three jobs simultaneously. So he didn’t have the time to be there to track everything going with the fruit flies, so he taught himself to write Assembly to get the computer and machines in the science lab to track it all for him.
My father loves to learn new things, which interests him a lot because lifelong learning is a core value. He masters new things incredibly quickly and then gets bored extremely quickly. So, this process of learning and doing new things drives him.
Also, from observing him my entire life, it doesn’t really matter what company he touches. He is the star of the show, and I know he has the skillset, mental tools, the self-confidence to see the roadmap and navigate the journey to reach success. You just need to let him just do his thing, and everything should work out for you in the end.
I also think his consulting background and military experience gave him tools and frameworks to understand risks and account for risk better than others. His unique experience and view of the world allow him to see risks or opportunities before they were apparent to others. We both are similar in our approach to risk and managing it. We both use some variation of the scientific method, utilize principal based thinking and decision making when analyzing any career or investment decisions we make.
As I explained earlier,I am always all about optimizing processes to create systems that work with the vision. I can see how things connect and I’ve always seen the employees as the truly valuable resource that a company has. I believe that everyone has a good idea or pieces of a good idea which causes you to make a command decision. So, that’s how Swae comes into the picture.
Back when I was a manager, we didn’t do it with the formality that Swae provides, by typing in feedback, etc. It was more a water cooler kind-of-thing, where people would get around a machine and talk about what was working and what wasn’t. We used to call this process “Total Quality Management.”With Swae, leaders can make pulling ideas from a larger pool of their own people a formalized part of their processes.
Our criteria are:
1. Founder or Co-Founders with different or unique backgrounds:
a. Diversity: We prefer to invest in founders and founding teams with at least one or more of the following — A woman, a minority (Person of Colour), an immigrant, or a child of an immigrant. This is a huge asset, especially in certain sectors.
b. Previous Experience:
Is this the first company you are starting? Do you have previous experience with a startup or running a business?
Are you an expert in that specific field that you are starting a company in? Are you the correct founder(s) to bring this to market or is somebody else better suited to execute the same idea?
We like founders that are either older or younger but it depends on what they are doing. Sometimes the experience really matters and sometimes the inexperience is more helpful.
Do you have previous experience together or do you have good chemistry? Do you even like working together?
Do you have complementary skill sets?
c. Personality Traits and Characteristics:
People from the groups I mentioned above usually are more successful because they have a giant chip on their shoulders. They tend to have grit, a strong work ethic, are more resourceful, better at capitalizing on more opportunities, and are motivated by something bigger than just themselves.
Opinionated founder(s) who have a compelling view for how something should be or will be.
An extreme sense of ownership. We want you to take pride in what you are doing and be passionate about it. You’re always thinking about your startup consciously or unconsciously.
You pay attention to the little details. Those little details add up can be a big driver of success.
Asking for help when you need it and consistently seeking out critical feedback
The ability to analyze situations and make important decisions with conviction leaning heavily on your gut instinct without data to back it up.
If you need all the data or information to make a decision then you missed your opportunities, your company isn’t innovative and you are likely to go out of business in the near future.
Ability to double down on their position and at the same time be willing to completely abandon their position, that shows real leadership.
The landscape is always changing, and you need to adjust accordingly. You either change to win or you cope with change when you lose. You don’t win awards for doubling down on something that puts you out of business or knowing that you made the wrong decision and continuing down the path even though you see red flags everywhere.
2. Product, Market, and Market Timing:
Is this idea or product even viable?
Do you have product-market fit?
Is there a customer who would pay you to use your product?
Is there room for this in the marketplace?
Is this the right time for this idea to come to market for customers and consumers?
Are you building something too ahead of its time? Can you stay alive until everything catches up?
3. Networks Effects, Frequent and Repeated usage, Marketplaces and Platforms
We prefer Platforms or Marketplaces but are perfectly fine if a startup isn’t either of those. Each kind of startup investment presents its own unique challenges along the way.
Network effects are a double edge sword, it can either scale your business quickly or can kill it just as fast.
If you combine both aspects, you can create something special. On the one hand, you can create monopolistic companies and, on the other hand, create a company to challenge those monopolistic companies at the same time.
For example, Amazon vs. Shopify and Instagram vs. Snapchat vs Tik Tok
4. Cash Management, Bankroll Management, and making Asymmetric bets:
As a founder, you need to account for every dollar you have in the bank and understand how to allocate it effectively. Founders also need to be great with bankroll management and making asymmetric bets. You can never make a bet that is too big that it depletes your entire bankroll. These bets you take with your company can have high risk, and you need to manage the risk accordingly. If the bet works out in your favor, the company can make significant gains, and if it doesn’t work out, your company would still be alive to reassess and move forward.
These things have become less of a concern to many founders because of how large startup valuations and funding rounds have become. It’s essential for founders to really understand this because although these valuations and funding rounds have gotten larger, you may not be able to raise any money at all or receive any additional investments. Covid-19 has only highlighted the importance of accounting for all the money you have, bankroll management, making asymmetrical bets. Just remember that most startups don’t get funding and don’t get bailed like airlines or banks.
You [Soushiant] had said that you didn’t yet think you had a Product-Market fit and arrived at that fact by carefully reviewing customer data and usage trends. Upon recognizing the patterns, you made changes and talked us over changes in your general logic flow.
That sealed the deal for us because you actually arrived at the fact of how to get product-market fit, and you were open enough to make changes and talking over changes to your general logic flow which shows that you are agile. Your approach and thinking gave us tremendous comfort in investing. It was clear you were making changes to your logic and feature set to arrive at a better offering to really nail product-market fit.
Not everyone is like that. Many other founders we see have blinders on and they don’t see any of the changes that need to go on around them. When those teams do the short-term actions, they always get blindsided later. We didn’t see the same failed approach in Swae.
Swae User Feedback: “I feel like I have a voice, this is what freedom feels like!”
If you can affect somebody at that level, then you really have something valuable! We believe that Swae is the platform that allows companies to really utilize and leverage their real competitive advantage which is their own human capital inside of their organization.
From personal experience in our own operations adapting to Covid-19, our temp hires have been the ones raising issues and telling us what the problems were in our operations. Those people in the trenches doing the actual work can tell us things that we could never actually see. Management would eventually see what those people see but way later, after spending a lot more money experiencing production problems and quality control issues. The others saw them earlier because they’re on the floor.
With Swae’s product, it would allow them to tell us quickly, and allows them to get credit! In a lot of companies, they may not get credit.
For me, if everybody figures out how to solve the problem together, then everybody has a little piece of the pie and then the right people can get in there to fix the problem and keep everybody making money and keep everybody employed.
Swae can show HOW you can actually get insight back from the people that are “in the trenches: so to speak. Swae will allow them to tell leadership without backlash.
Many companies today with this COVID-19 challenge, they’re running 24-hours a day, seven days a week, so making people’s voices heard inside of their organization is essential to their success.
Let me ask you when was the last time in a company where you had a boss ask “Hey Soushiant, what do you think of this? What’s your input on this decision?” That type of bottom-up feedback on important ideas and decisions rarely happens. If it does, the manager may often take credit for your good idea and if it goes badly you may catch all the blame.
The problem is compounded further if you’re a minority, for example, going into tech or going into any other fields, you probably feel like an outsider already, so naturally you are less inclined to stick your neck out, and speak up to offer your thoughts or ideas. More than likely you will just put your head down, do what you are told and try to not rock the boat.
Swae can solve a bunch of different problems at the same time — improving information sharing, idea generation, empowering introverts or outsiders, increasing diversity and inclusion, solving for toxic work cultures, and many more.
Swae replaces the need for all of the extra zoom calls just to get a take on what’s going on inside of the organization. Having Swae’s product would really help management to hear what they’re not hearing because they can get all that interaction without actually needing to be there on the floor or in person.
Society has been gradually shifting towards this for a while, more and more people are becoming digital nomads realizing they don’t need to be tied down to a physical office location to be successful. People have been running successful businesses and making meaningful contributions to their teams with just their computers in the comfort of their homes, at their favorite coffee shop, or vacation getaways.
I understand why people want to go back into the office and go back to the way things were. In reality, you really just want to work from home and have your kids go back to school. I guarantee that if you go into the office and your kids are in school, you’re going to want to be remote because it’s nice to spend more time with your kids.
The covid-19 pandemic has caused everyone to reflect and figure out what they value in their personal lives and cut things out that weren’t necessary. For businesses, covid-19 has clearly shown what you were good at, as well as highlight every single flaw and weakness in your business. Many companies were able to capitalize, thriving during the pandemic, experiencing some of the best growth to date.
But, sadly for many companies, they didn’t experience the same success and this has been one of the most trying times. There is no way to revisit the past and undo what happened. The ripple effect caused by the covid-19 pandemic has and continues to persist. The only thing you can do now is to reevaluate your business and address those problems to come out of this pandemic stronger than ever.
Swae is poised for the current “new normal” that won’t go away, as well as what the future holds. It’s how business, in general, will need to be done for companies that want to avoid disruption.
In order to not be disrupted, your business needs to be the company everyone is chasing. If you’re the company everyone is chasing, then you need to everything in your power to keep your edge on the competition. Either way, you look at it, everybody needs to fully leverage and maximize every resource they have.
The power of a company or organization — is its people. Your employees are the boots on the ground doing the hard work and are the backbone of your company’s success. We believe Swae can be the platform that allows companies to leverage their most important competitive advantage which is their human capital. Companies can unlock their true power of staying competitive by implementing Swae to unlock and leverage their own internal network.
Covid-19 is a “black swan” kind of event that has really forced a much quicker education curve and adoption for those companies that were resisting this reality or using these kinds of tools to stay competitive.
But every company will need tools to help them collaborate and be successful.
Swae is positioned on the cusp, to ride the wave of the new normal.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR SWAE…
Thank you to William and Eugene for sitting down with our CEO, Soushiant, to share openly about who they are and why they’re investing in Swae. All of us here at Swae are extremely excited to start working on our bigger goals to make our platform all the more powerful and of value to our customers.
A big goal for our technology team that is led by our CTO, Su Yon Sohn, is how Swae can integrate with other team collaboration and project management tools in 2021. We’re looking at integrations with platforms like Microsoft Teams, Slack, Asana, etc. This is just one of the many goals we hope to accomplish this year.
Our mission is to empower unheard voices within organizations to ensure that leaders can identify problems and hear investable solutions quickly, and to hear the truth of what’s going on in an organization so they can reduce the amount of bias present in important strategic decisions.
We know Swae can have a major impact within large companies on many levels, and truly transform the way leaders include others in sourcing challenges, finding solutions, and making better decisions faster.
We know that some problems within large organizations can’t be discovered unless you have everyone’s input.
The impact that covid-19 has had on businesses globally has set up the “new normal” and there’s no going back.
Companies need to be positioned to get stronger during this time, not weaker, and Swae is a technology that can’t be ignored.
IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN SPEAKING TO OUR CEO, SOUSHIANT, ABOUT POTENTIAL INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES, PLEASE CLICK HERE.
Swae’s AI-empowered technology drives employee engagement and encourages collaboration building inclusive decision-making processes and healthy, high-performing organizations.
The Business Case for Swae
The Covid-19 crisis has magnified the importance for most business leaders that investing in technologies to keep their employees engaged day-to-day, as well as included in important decision-making processes, isn’t a feel-good measure but critical for driving success.
During these difficult times, forward-thinking leaders and companies know they must maintain alignment, encourage collaboration, and boost engagement in order to get the most out of the workforce and make it through this crisis.
Employees that feel valued and feel like they’re still a part of decision-making processes will be more engaged, will feel comfortable being “in the know” and will be happier in their roles. When people in an organization believe their voice matters, and believe in the opportunity to influence the agenda, they trust the process and engage more deeply. An engaged employee who has trust invests more discretionary effort and emotional equity than the bare minimum expected.
This leads them to unleash their creativity and ideas, engaging with others’ ideas to improve upon them, and ultimately helps shape and generate better quality ideas for the organization to select from, helping leaders make more effective decisions (from the bottom-up).
Accordingly,happier employees see a ~12% increase in productivity, and companies with highly engaged employees experience 2x higher net income and grow profits 3x faster than companies with poor engagement scores.
The opposite is also true. When employees feel excluded from decision-making or feel that there is a lack of transparency about core decisions (especially during a moment of existential crisis like COVID-19), they become disengaged. Disengagement prevents people from feeling like they want to be a part of anything so they’ll stop coming forward with potentially great ideas and useful insights. What follows in this vicious cycle is a lack of trust and lower morale which ultimately negatively impacts productivity, culture, and organizational performance.
Employees that don’t have the opportunity to feed their ideas forward, feel like decisions are being made top-down without consultation or transparencyare 3x more disengaged, 3x more likely to leave their roles within a year, 2.6x more likely to without market-ready ideas, and about 34% less productive than employees that experience more inclusive cultures and decision-making processes.
In a world where more frequent in-person meetings or drop-ins to exchange ideas don’t happen, finding alternatives to encouraging productive ideation is critical.
That’s why LifeLabs decided to do a pilot program with Swae. Our team is excited to help them create an inclusive culture welcoming bottom-up ideas so that they can start to activate the full potential of their workforce!
ABOUT LIFELABS AND THE PILOT PROGRAM WITH SWAE:
LifeLabs performs over 112 million laboratory tests to help diagnose, treat, monitor, and prevent diseases for millions of Canadians. They are the largest private-public laboratories and COVID-19 testing facilities across Canada.
In this 60-day pilot program, the LifeLabs leadership team is planning to use Swae to engage employees to gather insights and source idea innovations for adaptations to their operational and business models for their now distributed workforce (due to COVID-19). This pilot program with Swae will also help LifeLabs think about the Future of Work and understand how they can adapt processes at the patient services centers in a post-COVID world (a time or circumstance that most of us struggle to see and predict).
With all of this uncertainty, new values are reshaping the workplace every single day, and by using Swae, LifeLabs can turn the participation of their people into a powerful source of innovation potential for their organization. And this isn’t only about employee engagement, but also about providing high quality, defensible ideation, and innovative solutions for the future of the organization.
“Swae is a tool I have been hoping to see developed for many years. It dispels many of the implicit and explicit biases often seen in brainstorming exercises.”
— Jamie Lepard, LifeLabs Business Continuity Program Manager
Building a culture where employees feel comfortable to “speak up” (also called a “speak up culture”) can, as our customers have seen, 10x employee engagement!
The goal of this relationship is that by implementing Swae’s AI-empowered technology platform, LifeLabs will get more ideas from their stakeholders, include more voices, and raise the quality, intelligence, and legitimacy of decisions. By removing the barriers to inclusion, the process they will reveal. Doing so will boost engagement and all of these things have a long-lasting impact on morale, culture, and performance.
ABOUT OUR PLATFORM:
At the most basic level, we are a high-tech suggestion box that can’t be ignored. Unlike the old school suggestion boxes that collected more dust than ideas, helps organizations create a competitive idea marketplace to source from, evaluate, and improve upon the ideas in a collaborative manner.
What’s different is that Swae’s methodology is built around meritocracy and idea improvement.
The platform encourages decision-makers to set metrics upfront around the amount of improvement to the idea, not just popularity, to ensure that only the ideas that have been significantly improved and meet the metrics graduate to a management review to receive the attention they deserve. This makes the process fair, transparent, meritocratic, and efficient.
Swae’s AI algorithms help users write more logical arguments and turn opinions into well-written proposals.
Swae’s collaboration features allow others to comment, suggest revisions, point out risks and strengths, and vote, improving the substance of ideas on the platform collaboratively.
The combination of Swae’s methodology and features helps organizations include as many voices as they like, benefit from the collective intelligence that resides within, but only pick the best ideas that survive through the process and meet the pre-set improvement metrics determined by decision-makers. This ensures the process remains efficient and useful for the organization while baking in meritocracy so that ideas that are “decision-ready” graduate to a management review to receive the attention they deserve.
For 2 years now, we’ve helped many companies likeBosch,Etihad Airways, andDoctors Without Borders[and more] dramatically increase the number of investment-ready decisions, business-wide engagement, and user participation.
Swae is used globally by over25,000+ humansin large teams, corporations, and smart cities. Most who use Swae believe Swae’s process helps efficiently tap into the imagination and initiative of the people in an organization’s ranks while removing the bureaucratic wall they often hit when they propose new solutions.
If you’d like a demo and a chat with our team, pleaseclick here.
How Swae is helping IdentityNORTH adapt their conference experience to a virtual summit due to the Covid-19 crisis
Over the past month, we’ve had the good fortune of meeting Krista Pawley and the incredible team from Imperative Impact, which is a high-touch advisory firm specializing in helping organizations design great cultures and stronger brands.
Imperative Impact designs and produces IdentityNORTH — a series of events and a community of innovators at the epicenter of digital identity and the digital economy of Canada. Leaders, companies, and big thinkers come together to in IdentityNORTH conferences to share and learn about the innovations that are shaping Canada’s digital future.
Their events touch on topics such as:
Digital ID & Authentication
Identity & Access Management (IAM) and Consumer Identity (CIAM)
The Digital Economy
The “Internet of Things”
Emerging Standards and Technology
And many others…
How Swae is helping IdentityNORTH adapt their conference experience to a virtual one due to the COVID-19 crisis
This year, due to the risks and restrictions placed around large gatherings due to the COVID-19 crisis, IdentityNORTH has changed the flagship in-person summit into an entirely virtual experience.
To ensure an equally positive and high-value experience for their participants online, IdentityNORTH partnered with Swae to bring the conference participants a pre-conference ideation and collaboration tool to help empower their virtual summit.
How Swae will be utilized for the virtual summit
In the weeks leading up to the conference as attendees register, they are invited to participate in co-creating the agenda for a portion of the conference, allowing the agenda to accurately reflect the attendee’s interests and learning goals.
Using the Swae platform, attendees submit proposals for the “UnConference” portion of the event, sharing their big ideas for collaboration on the platform with other attendees. Together they will be able to select and join in on the conversation to vote for the ideas that interest them the most. The agenda ideas that gain the most crowdsourced comments, critical feedback, and votes by attendees are reviewed by the IdentityNORTH executive team and finalized based on a transparent set of criteria and metrics.
The successful ideas and topics that are chosen and approved on the platform are turned into breakout sessions, essentially allowing the audience to dictate the content for the second day of the conference.
The Swae platform allows conference organizers like IdentityNORTH to effortlessly gather ideas from the community to co-create the content while allowing attendees to have the ability to directly impact and shape the agenda. Rather than the typical one-directional survey, participants will be utilizing Swae to co-create ideas while allowing communities and groups to crowdsource ideas and make inclusive decisions seamless.
The conference will take place from June 17–18, 2020, and all of us here at Swae are very excited about this partnership and the potential of supporting other conference organizers like IdentityNORTH. This is a huge opportunity to offer more inclusive experiences for attendees and conference organizers alike.
Here’s how this all comes together:
If you desire to co-create your conference in the same way, click below and let us know more about you to set up a conversation with the Swae team!
After assessing the various programs offered to companies affected by COVID-19, our research has found that most companies are unable to benefit from a variety of relief programs offered by the government.
Organizations Must Adapt to the Need for Remote Decision-Making and Holding Annual General Meetings During and After the COVID-19 Crisis
The Annual General Meeting (AGM) season is fast-approaching and with the outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), it has left many companies wondering how to approach their upcoming AGMs and asking questions like:
How do we make this 100% virtual and safe for our shareholders?
How do we meet our legal obligation to ensure we’re compliant of bylaws?
How can we make this digital transition as painless as possible and ensure we can trust the platform that we choose?
How do we make this 100% inclusive and accessible if it’s online?
How do we do this quickly and without a large investment?
Leadership is now required to change their approach to the digital frontier, and now more than ever people need the right tools, platforms, and safe environments to make high-quality collective decisions about many things that remain uncertain.
Due to the growing travel concerns and social distancing requirements in place for most of the globe, physical in-person meetings for AGMs cannot happen. Regulating authorities have issued guidelines and measures to deal with the COVID-19 crisis and now companies must seek the right technologies to address these concerns.
THE ANSWER:DIGITAL ANNUAL GENERAL MEETINGS (AGMs)
Swae’s team has responded quickly to this need by creating a Digital Annual General Meetings (AGMs) product that provides a safe, secure, accurate, and transparent environment allowing every critical shareholder to attend.
The major advantages of holding a virtual AGM:
Every shareholder gets a voice in a safe and secure environment
Companies can say goodbye to paper
The transparent nature of the digital AGM allows for a more inclusive meeting and more stakeholders to have a voice
Allows for an online voting system with data received in real-time
During a time of any crisis, all persons involved can participate from the safety of their own homes
COMING YOUR WAY MAY 2020
Launching Swae for Digital Annual General Meetings
Thankfully, virtual meetings have been increasing in popularity and growing numbers of companies and organizations have adopted this online-only or online-hybrid method of communicating with their stakeholders or shareholders.
In recent years, high-profile companies such as Comcast, Intel, Starbucks, Paypal, and Hewlett Packard having held virtual-only AGMs. Even Lululemon (NASDAQ: LULU), a Delaware company based in Vancouver, conducted its AGM completely virtually, leading to local media coverage and a debate over the use of virtual AGMs.
Given the time we live in, we expect to see similar acceptance of the online forum among most Canadian companies and organizations.
Making the switch after years of traditional annual meetings doesn’t need to be stress-inducing, but involves a change of mindset, adoption of new technologies and processes.
Making the switch with Swae’s new digital AGM product can make it easier than one would imagine.
BE THE FIRST TO BE NOTIFIED WHEN SWAE’S DIGITAL AGM PRODUCT IS AVAILABLE! (AVAILABLE MAY 2020)
After assessing the various programs offered to companies affected by COVID-19, our research has found that most companies are unable to benefit from a variety of relief programs offered by the government.
Judges Selected Swae as one of 25 winners (amongst hundreds of applicants) competing for the Walton Family Foundation and The Center for Advancing Innovation’s 2020 Scale Challenge
Last week, Swae was selected as one of 25 winners of The Center for Advancing Innovation (CAI) International SCALE — Supply Chain and Logistics Enterprises — Challenge.
Supported by a grant from the Walton Family Foundation, SCALE is an open innovation contest to innovate the supply chain and logistics industry sector by launching 20+ high-tech startups advancing breakthrough inventions in advanced materials, artificial intelligence (AI), autonomous vehicles, drones, robotics, 3D printing, machine learning, augmented reality and virtual reality. CAI and a 15-member committee of industry experts and investors selected the 25 inventions amongst several hundred applicants.
The SCALE Challenge was orchestrated by CAI, a 501(c)3 non-profit that launched 300+ startups since 2014. CAI partners with 120+ research institutes — including the National Institutes of Health, NASA, universities, and hospitals that cumulatively have more than 175,000 inventions combined.
The category of the win was in Innovation Excellence, and Swae was amongst other startups like Demeter (automated disease detection in crops using drones and deep learning), AmorSui (smart antimicrobial workwear to help hospitals prevent infections using IoT enabled garments), and many more startups that could be absolute game-changers in the world.
“We’re thrilled to be selected amongst 25 other resilient founders, who are not letting COVID-19 or other existential issues detract them from bringing their solutions to the world. We feel really fortunate to have benefitted from this challenge and the high-quality programming and stewardship provided by Rosemarie Truman and Codie Locke from the CAI. Without them, such realities would not exist and startups like us would certainly not get these kinds of transformative opportunities,” says CEO, Soushiant Zanganehpour.
CEO, Soushiant Zanganehpour
Swae is not specifically meant to disrupt supply chains necessarily, but the impact that our solutions have on larger organizational decision making are transformative. The possibility of bringing Swae’s solutions to an organization like Walmart can have unknown positive impacts and can be remarkable use cases for us and them.
“While SCALE is the largest challenge CAI has ever orchestrated, the Challenge is a first of a kind in two important dimensions. First, it’s one where CAI systematically joined high-tech startup teams with entrepreneurs to cultivate the ‘art spirit.’ Second, SCALE represents the most significant challenge to disrupt supply chains across multiple dimensions, the food supply chain, fashion supply chain and more.”
Rosemarie Truman, Founder and CEO
Center for Advancing Innovation
Winners of the challenge are put forward to pitch to a hand-selected group of investors for early-stage funding at an exclusive, invite-only Investor Forum, planned for September 2020.
To learn more about the SCALE challenge, please click here. To see the list of winners including Swae and the other elite, gamechanger startups, please click here.
CURIOUS AS TO HOW SWAE IS CHANGING HOW THE WORLD WORKS? BE THE FIRST TO BE NOTIFIED, GET ON OUR LIST!
After assessing the various programs offered to companies affected by COVID-19, our research has found that most companies are unable to benefit from a variety of relief programs offered by the government.
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