Cognotion Turns Corporate Training On Its Head with Skills-Based Videos
While working in the human rights field in Israel, Joanna Schneier noticed something that would change the trajectory of her work. Schneier worked with an underserved population that had little to no job opportunities. And while there was no shortage of humanitarian organizations working with this population, something was missing.
“I was looking at these young people, and it struck me that the thing that was really going on was an economic problem and a training problem,” she said. “There was nowhere for them to enter into the market—and they didn’t have the skills if something did open.”
This realization led Schneier to dive into the workforce training industry, and in 2013 to co-found an education technology company, Cognotion, with Jonathan Dariyanani.
Cognotion aims to revolutionize the way entry-level employees receive training when they start a new job. To do this, Schneier and Dariyanni developed mobile gaming and video simulation tools that increase productivity, reduce employee turnover and save corporations money in the process.
“The corporate training market is a $500 billion market, but it’s frozen in time,” Dariyanani says. “The field was really ripe for disruption.”
Headquartered in New York City, Cognotion recently received recognition on the international stage. In November 2014, the startup won the education category at 1776’s New York Challenge Cup and advanced to compete at Challenge Festival in D.C. last month. There, Cognotion pitched its way to a $100,000 prize as a Challenge Cup Global Winner, the top education startup in a field of 80 international companies.
Russell Greiff, managing director for education ventures at 1776 and a judge for the competition, said that Cognotion’s mission-driven approach and desire to scale globally fit well with 1776’s business and investing criteria and culture.
“Their approach is an interesting combination of science, art and behavioral dynamics with diverse lesson-plan production in their content including simulation, animation, story-line and narrative scenarios,” Greiff said. “They are building impressive traction and impact in a highly fragmented market in need of disruption and innovation.”
“It was an honor just to be chosen in our New York competition,” Dariyanani said. “To win the education category globally validates the importance of the need Cognotion is serving.”
Dariyanani and Schneier said they are excited to continue to impact the U.S. job market—and to continue to grow internationally. The traction Cognotion has picked up in the Middle East in particular is among both of their proudest accomplishments.
“Our Middle East work has resulted in thousands of women entering the workforce,” Schneier said. “Seeing real people have the opportunity to enter the workforce and succeed in their careers is magical.”
Dariyanani agrees, emphasizing that the best mechanism for stability in the Middle East is economic opportunity for the underemployed.
“There’s such a wide skill gap,” he said. “So to have the opportunity to materially improve huge unemployment, which is the number one cause of social instability, we feel like it’s a service to our country, to the world, and to the people in the region.”
But Cognotion isn’t just in the Middle East. The company also has a presence in the Brazil, Africa and Europe, and in the next several years will continue to deepen its roots in those regions. The startup is also in the process of building a training course for nursing home assistants, which Dariyanani said he hopes will revolutionize training in the industry.
“For people who spend the last 20 years of their life in a nursing home, it makes such a difference in their lives when the person taking care of them is well trained, empathetic, and kind,” he said. “We couldn’t be more excited about helping that population increase its skills so they can do a better job for the seniors in their care.”
As Cognotion continues to develop and enhance new technologies, Schneier said the reason she loves going to work every day remains the same.
“The ability to come into a large corporation that’s been struggling with a problem and to solve that problem for them, it’s very rewarding,” she said. “But more than anything, we’re interested in making an impact.”