Steve Albanese of LearnBolt Shares How Rapid, Online Delivery of Knowledge Can Increase Workforce Productivity
At some businesses, new hire orientation means hours of PowerPoints, team building exercises, paperwork, and Q&As that take up hours of time from both senior level employees and new hires alike.
But for many organizations, particularly those with a frequent employee turnover, this type of training isn’t sustainable. That’s why LearnBolt aims to provide a faster and easier method of collecting and disseminating knowledge across entire organizations.
To learn more about the mobile-based training software that LearnBolt provides, we interviewed Steve Albanese, Founder and CEO of LearnBolt.
Hannah Nyren: Hi, this is Hannah Nyren with EdTech Times. And today I’m speaking with Steve Albanese from LearnBolt. Hi Steve, how’s it going?
Steve Albanese: Hi, how’s it going?
Hannah Nyren: So Steve, tell me a little bit about LearnBolt, and what the product does.
Steve Albanese: LearnBolt is a workforce productivity platform. And our mission is to empower business owners, managers, and employees from the moment of training need, to the collection, organization, and delivery of knowledge, all within one system and all from a mobile device.
Hannah Nyren: So explain to me a little bit about what using LearnBolt might look like.
Steve Albanese: Well, it’s a mobile platform and what we’re trying to do is empower someone in a turnkey system. So it goes from the collection. So we’re a mobile platform, so a business owner might have—want to collect some content. So, say you’re the subject matter expert on making pizza. So I might use my mobile device and capture you because you’re the best at doing it. So I’m capturing that video. Maybe there’s a PDF, which are a recipe, and that’s on Google Drive. I may import that. Maybe we want to take pictures of the utensils that you would use. So from our mobile platform, you’re basically collecting all of that stuff and it’s being put in to our content management system. Once they have all those raw assets, then they use what we call Learn Paths to kind of organize it. And so they can put them kind of in a slide deck and then I can immediately share it to someone’s mobile device.
Steve Albanese: So really like I was saying it’s, I have this idea for learning, and how do I go from start to finish. And it’s really collecting it, organizing it, and then immediately sharing it.
Hannah Nyren: So you can really use it for anything?
Steve Albanese: Yeah. Our focus is, you know — in starting this business I looked through, K through 12, higher ed, small business, and medical. And I’ve always bootstrapped my businesses. So I kind of saw that I can speak to decision makers right at the business. And that seemed like the obvious [part]. But I have a couple of kids, and my son’s high school wrestling team is using it.
Hannah Nyren: Oh really?
Steve Albanese: So the wrestling coaches have captured a bunch of videos on moves. And then they’ve collected moves from YouTube and different locations. And the managers record their matches. So after the matches, they share that out through LearnBolt. And then the coaches can go in and add little comments and say, ‘hey, you know, you did this great, but here’s this video tutorial from this Olympic wrestler that I think could be beneficial for you.’ So really it’s, you have content, you collect it, they’re organizing it in a certain way and they’re sharing out the kids. The mission here is to help them be better. So, you know, that’s kind of another aspect of it.
Hannah Nyren: So what inspired you to start this company?
Steve Albanese: Well, I’ve had I’ve been in I’ve had several businesses thus far, and being in different areas. So for example, production. You create stuff. I’ve been an author. So I’ve written a few books and created content.
Steve Albanese: I’ve been on the production side, where I work with other clients to build some stuff. And then I’ve been in software development. And if you’ve ever tried to teach someone something and you have this idea for learning, a lot of times you get caught with this hurdle. Like I have this grand idea, and maybe I want to use a video or maybe want to use this and the tools that I saw or I was using it was kind of cumbersome. And with technology today advancing, and like you have this amazing supercomputer in your pocket, you know…
Hannah Nyren: There shouldn’t have to be a hard way. There’s so much technology out there.
Steve Albanese: Right. Well, you know, you have an iPhone or you have an iPad. The quality is unbelievable. The captured video, audio, all that stuff. So I saw that the capture devices there. With back end infrastructure like services like Amazon, that’s there. The connection with mobile devices being faster is there. The end users ability to use this technology is there because they — they’re taking pictures of their kids or friends or whatever. So there’s this intersection of how people use technology, the technology and the delivery system and I figured what’s needed? The software application to tie that all together. And so you have an idea for learning from start to finish, you can use LearnBolt to collect organize and share.
Hannah Nyren: So what are your goals for the future? How do you hope to, you know, build on what you’ve already produced?
Steve Albanese: I see LearnBolt as a daily used productivity tool. So as I said, it’s workforce productivity. So how do you empower a business owner or manager to really empower that employee to be successful. You start a new job.
Steve Albanese: And if the first thing I say to you is, “Hannah, go over here and Jimmy is going to show you the ropes. And Jimmy has another job and he might give you bare minimum information. So now you’re put in a tough situation as a new employee because you’re getting bare minimum of information, but you’re thinking in the back, do they think I’m doing a good job? But what if I could give that manager the tool to quickly empower and send you source information. This is the perfect thing. I send it right to your mobile device. So now instead of shadowing, I’m onboarding you with just the information you need in the first week. And so now as an employee you’re thinking, ‘Wow I feel good about my job.’ And the idea is that hopefully you’ll do a better job. And the bottom line for the business: quality and consistency. And so the mission is really to help a business. If I want to grow, like how do I sustain quality as I grow. Well you need consistent information, you need source information. So if in the big picture, you know, any business who wanted to grow, you know, I think could we capture a market and kind of disrupt the whole concept of a learning management system. You know, I refer to learning management system and traditional ways of training development as the cost time and effort mountain.
Steve Albanese: So you have multiple pieces and multiple people that it takes to go from your head to multiple heads. You have authoring tools. You have content management systems. You have learning management systems. If you think about it, it may take one like 10, 20, 100 people to go from idea to conception. But if LearnBolt could flatten that mountain, so that in the moment of training need, you think, I have this idea. If you can go from that idea to delivery very quickly then I think we’ve really done something. And I think it’s applicable for the small business, emerging businesses to even in the large corporation. So the grand picture we want to push it everywhere.
Hannah Nyren: I mean I definitely could see a very broad use for the tool. Because a lot of YouTube even is made up of video tutorials. Have you thought about going beyond professional learning and just having, you know, kind of a free for all, anybody can put their instruction up there.
Steve Albanese: You can download LearnBolt and use it today. So I use it for a lot of crazy things I use at my house. So we have LearnBolt account for my house…
Hannah Nyren: So this is how you feed the cat.
Steve Albanese: My wife is an incredibly intelligent person. She’s a physician has an engineering degree. But using the technology in the house can sometimes be a challenge. We have a pool and changing things— so we’ve captured different video tutorials. This is how you set up the pool for the spa. She has her iPhone out at the pool. She looks at it. Refresher, it’s right there. We’ve also taken in a bunch of other recipes. We’ve had all these papers all over the place, so they’ve been put in there. So really it’s information, I need it — you know our expectation today is that any information we need is immediately available at our fingertips.
Steve Albanese: And there’s a sea of information out there on the internet. But what about that exclusive information that doesn’t exist out there? So this is kind of a vehicle. And to get to your point is yes, you could use it for everything. But when you’re starting a business and if you present this to investor, yeah, you can use this for everything doesn’t quite work.
Hannah Nyren: That doesn’t bring home any money.
Steve Albanese: Right. So the target really I think is, very pinpoint, our target is the service industry, maybe hospitality food and service. I think it’s obvious on how we can help them. But I see it as a target. You know, you have this target on the wall that’s our bull’s eye. And then we have all these things that can roll out of there. All these different silos. And when you’re building a business, I think you need to be focused: here’s our bull’s eye. But to show to potential investors and growing a business: here’s our grand scale. It’s a large market. We can cover all these areas.
Hannah Nyren: And I think hospitality is a good industry to start in because there is a demand for training. But they really need scalable training.
Steve Albanese: Yeah you have— in the service industry, one thing that’s a unique fit is high turnover. And it’s also a function of today’s world. If you look at history of how long people stay in jobs. The trend right now is that people move from job to job more frequently than what they used to.
Hannah Nyren: Than they ever have in the past, really.
Steve Albanese: So the idea of having a knowledge base that I can quickly share for a new employee. Because the bottom line is the productivity and the service quality of my product or service. So that’s my goal as a business owner. I need to be able to manage that knowledge quickly. Now there’s another aspect of that, which I think is unique to LearnBolt, which is called knowledge mining. And every business has human capital. And in the past I might have Freddy or maintenance guy. He is a whiz, go to Freddy, he knows. That’s where my knowledge capital is, in his head. But what if Freddy walks out the door tomorrow? And if you’ve ever been a business owner you’ve had an employee. And all of a sudden you had this gut, ‘Oh my goodness what are we going to do now?’.
Hannah Nyren: It’s a disaster scenario.
Steve Albanese: I had a customer call me and we planted the seed with him. And he called up frantically and said, “Our maintenance guys leaving. When can you do this? He’s the only one who knows how to fix or air conditioning system. If that goes down, we’re screwed.” And so if you provide someone with a tool, a platform where they can incrementally capture that information, then we’ll sleep better at night. And the big thing is the huge hurdle of doing this. You know, if I capture this in the moment I can do with my mobile device because it’s easy. I don’t have to set up a big rig. Then you incrementally capture this, you put it in your library and so when it comes time for that, you’re not in firefighting mode.
Steve Albanese: You’re more, you know, there’s a— when you own a business, the question is, are you working in your business? Or are you working on your business? And so if I’m working on my business I’m kind of growing it there. I’m not in firefighting mode, like what just happened? So the point is is that…
Hannah Nyren: Proactive instead of reactive.
Steve Albanese: Yeah. And so why don’t people do it? ‘Cause it’s a pain in the ass. So if you could somehow lower that bar then I think you’ve done something.
Hannah Nyren: Well, it sounds like you’ve made it pretty simple to convey that information. So I’m interested to see where LearnBolt goes and who’s using it.
Steve Albanese: Well, thank you. Thanks for the opportunity.
Hannah Nyren: Thanks, Steve. This is Hannah Nyren with EdTech Times.
Mariel is a Boston-based freelance writer and audio producer who has covered news, technology and innovation for public media groups including WBUR and WGBH. Outside of work, she performs and writes spoken word poetry and voraciously reads true crime novels.