Startup of the Week — TIQ Software

Companies have been producing slideshows or basic web and video-based training materials for years. TIQ Software is trying to change the game.

Originally published by the Calgary Herald.

Companies have been producing paper-based, PowerPoint, or basic web and video-based training materials for years. However, employees are tired of the same old training and testing scenarios and are looking for something more.

Enter Trajectory IQ, a web and mobile game-powered eLearning platform designed to change the way people are educated, trained, and tested in the workplace. Trajectory gives you access to a digital toolkit of scene-based interactions, badges and awards, points and scoring, messaging, analytics and a complete library of interactive puzzles and games to choose from.

A number of reputed organizations such as City of Edmonton, College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta, Discovery Communications, ATCO Electric are using the platform to great success. For example, ATCO Electric was facing a challenge onboarding hundreds of new employees in remote locations, and their Human Resources department was looking for a fun and engaging way to onboard new employees into their culture.

Using Trajectory IQ, every new ATCO Electric employee is now able to interact with ATCO’s first level of Human Resources materials incorporated with points, badges, scoring, puzzles and games. The best part? Each employee can play the game at their own pace and place, and ATCO can track their progress throughout the experience.

Here’s more from our conversation with the Founder and CEO, Jason Suriano.

How did you come up with the idea for your startup? Was there an “ah-ha” moment?

I’ve been producing web, mobile and location-based educational games under Rocketfuel Games since 2006. We were testing one of our games with Discovery Communications, when a parent of one of the children in the testing group said that our game would be great in some sort of corporate setting. At that moment, I realized that if we could find our first corporate partner willing to take a chance on a new type of training and testing experience, we could do something unique that combined education with games.

What has been the biggest challenge so far? What have you done to solve it?

The biggest challenge is always to stay true to the core functions of business and to avoid deviating. Because we come from a studio-driven mindset, there is a tendency to always want to create new experiences from scratch. However, Trajectory allows us to create new visual and interactive experiences without changing the core technologies that power the platform.

Are there any key individuals outside of your organization that have been of great help to your startup?

Our investors at Foundation Equity II, in particular Mike Cabigon, have been instrumental in helping establish the operational structure of the company. Companies like ATCO Electric and Boilermakers of Canada took a chance with us in the early stages of Trajectory’s development, and that really helped us move to the next level.

What’s new with your startup that we can share?

We recently signed up our seventh corporate client this year. We’re running at a new client a month pace since the start of the year, mainly through referrals and word of mouth. There is some real momentum behind what we are creating as our corporate clients see the value and return on investment.

What advice would you like to share to early with others just starting out?

We talk and pitch our ideas as much as possible. I tell other startups to avoid “stealth mode” like the plague. You hear it all the time, a startup has this great idea but they are in “stealth mode” and unwilling to share their idea with anyone for fear of someone stealing their idea. However, it’s execution that matters. In the beginning, and throughout your product development, you need to talk about your idea as much as you can in order to validate the concept with as many people as possible.

Here are some other recommendations:

  • Seek out local groups and resources and get involved. Groups like Startup Edmonton and Startup Calgary can help you get started.
  • Look for mentors in the area you’re working in. No one builds a company on their own, and there are a lot of people who will help you, often for free, if you reach out.
  • Find a good lawyer and an accountant. It’s critical to set up your corporate structure early on. Leaving this until later can cause a lot of financial and personal issues down the road.
  • Read, research, and then read some more. Use a news/ content aggregator like Zite to read anything and everything you can about your product area.
  • Learn about the psychology of your work and what will work for your customers and end users. Particularly read Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal.

What made you choose to go down the path of entrepreneurship?

To be honest, I thought that I would never become an entrepreneur after living through a family-run business during my childhood, but I guess it was just something that I gravitated towards naturally.

What are your thoughts on our startup ecosystem?

I think Alberta’s “heads down” get the job done attitude is both positive and negative. On the positive side, Alberta is positioned as one of the best places in the world to start a company. We have a strong economy and a great network of individuals and organizations wiling to help startups. The only problem with the Alberta attitude is that sometimes we’re so “heads down” that we forget to look up and see what the person or company next to us is doing. We need to figure out a way to find more synergies amongst startups in the province in order to strengthen our offerings in the global marketplace.

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