Professional Development

Job training and reskilling startup GoCoach is setting up a Philadelphia office

The company now has 150 coaches on 300 assignments, according to founder and St. Joseph's University grad Kristy McCann Flynn.

An antidote for our high-stress world?

In less than a week on Kickstarter, the anxiety-reduction promise of the Brooklyn-based Gravity Blanket has raised more than $1.4 million, giving its creator a good reason to get out of bed. The weight of the blanket, which is about 10 percent of a person's body weight, is said to give it therapeutic properties, increasing the body's melatonin and serotonin production, which reduces stress and anxiety and helps you sleep. "Gravity uses the power of proprioceptive input (more commonly known as 'deep touch pressure stimulation'), a well regarded therapeutic method that stimulates pressure points on the body linked to improved sleep, mood, and relaxation," according to the company's Kickstarter page. "The result is a reduction in cortisol levels and an increase in serotonin production, which decreases heart rate and blood pressure." The person behind the Gravity Blanket is John Fiorentino, a 2014 NYU grad who's previously worked for Scooter Braun (Justin Bieber's manager) before founding his own company, Good Ones. Good Ones seems to make videos of Fiorentino trying out and recommending products, including at Bulletin's holiday market, an up-and-coming startup we recently profiled. There is no shortage of anxiety in New York City, so Fiorentino would seem to have quite a market. The Kickstarter page cites several studies for its health claims, from publications including from a 2008 issue of the journal of Occupational Therapy in Mental Health and a from a poorly-cited article which is presented as being from MIT, but which directs to what appears to be (it's behind a paywall) four pages by written by MIT professors from a 2009 conference called Proceedings of the Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. "Even hospitals use weighted blankets to calm patients' anxiety and promote deep, restful sleep," the Kickstarter continues. "In a similar way to swaddling an infant, the weight and pressure on an adult provides near-instant comfort and relief." The blankets are selling on Kickstarter for $169, which is labeled as a steep discount from its eventual sale price of $279. Only 48 of 5,750 remain at this level, before the price increases to $189.

New York City-based GoCoach, a nearly two-year-old startup that trains employees in hard and soft workforce skills, will scale its business in Philadelphia, setting up shop here in early 2020.

The app works to train or reskill employees, companies or individuals to make them more marketable to hiring mangers, or to keep current employees up to date.

Scranton native Kristy McCann Flynn launched the company in 2018 to offer a SaaS and customer-facing solution to the professional development market. The app relies on a network of customers and career coaches who work together to bring folks up to speed on current workforce trends and skills. It tracks KPIs, has behavioral assessments and brings in a range of “coaches” for various industries.

A few months after it launched, GoCoach doubled its initial sales and now has 150 coaches on 300 assignments, McCann Flynn said.

“The real problem is that it became normal to rehire people annually instead of investing in them which is a waste of money, time, people, culture, engagement and more,” McCann Flynn said. “We are here to break that norm and make it abnormal … by providing continuous personalized education at scale with our coach marketplace and learning platform.”

While she launched the startup in NYC, it was time to grow the company elsewhere, the Saint Joseph’s University grad said. In 2020, the company is focusing expansion efforts on both coasts, here in Philadelphia and on the West Coast in California.

McCann Flynn left Philly in 2001 because at the time, job growth and the tech community weren’t thriving here.

“In the past 20 years, Philadelphia has changed so much in jobs, technology, real estate and more,” she said. McCann Flynn and her husband moved back recently to take advantage of the now-growing industry and thousands of area college grads who need preparation for the workforce.

The team is currently mostly remote, but is looking at adding a Philly office in 2020. It just brought on a fellow St. Joe’s grad as an account executive, and McCann Flynn said the company will be hiring a sales and support team for the Philadelphia office next year.

“We want to be part of the growth and innovation in Philadelphia and give back to the community with our education platform,” she said.


Companies: GoCoach
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