Updated: Jun 27, 2022

Ethena was built on one guiding principle: what if you redesigned training from the ground up with the goal of making it actually effective, not just 10% better? Our co-founder and CEO Roxanne spoke with Patrick O’Shaughnessy on Invest Like the Best about our journey so far and where we’re going next. We’ve put together some key takeaways below:

Inspiration for Ethena came from the Military:

As a combat veteran who served in the Army for several years, Roxanne participated in her fair share of mandatory training, of which she noticed there were two types: effective vs. check-the-box.

  1. Effective trainings were always clearly prioritized by leadership, and included practical scenarios. In practice, this meant everyone completed a lot of training that simulated the exact thing they were going to be doing. The way everyone trained resembled the actual scenarios they faced.
  2. Check-the-box trainings were often presented as an annoyance. For example, for sexual harassment prevention training, an unwilling volunteer would usually go through a powerpoint deck that 1) hadn’t been updated in years and 2) included scenarios that clearly were not created for the Army. Of course, this left a clear impression on everyone that these topics were not important to leadership, and changing behavior was not top of mind.

It became clear that training had to be prioritized by the organization and actually reflect the actual environment and scenarios of employees to be effective. One of the most effective ways to signal prioritization was by having leaders who communicated that they genuinely cared about the training materials.

What should a great compliance training platform look like?

Building V1 of Ethena’s platform was a crash course for Roxanne and Anne (our co-founder and CTO) on building what an effective compliance training platform looks like:

  1. Training should be short and sweet: Breaking what would normally be an all-hands, two-hour meeting into five- to twenty-minute sessions works well with attention spans and jam-packed calendars nowadays. Not to mention, repetition is key for retention (lots of research into adult learning best practices was done).
  2. Surprise! The content has to be good: If the training is relevant to what’s going on in the world, the individual’s workplace, and enjoyable to engage with, learners actually look forward to taking training. These topics are inherently fascinating to talk about, so let’s do them justice by addressing them as such!
  3. Accessibility is key: Not a hot take, but it should be easy for employees to access their training and for admins to administer and keep track of it. Roxanne and Anne landed on delivering training to employees with magic links via email and Slack, and automating as much of the admin work possible. No more manual assignment of training, reminders, or analysis.

What’s next for Ethena?

Our vision remains the same for the future: How do we make it really easy for employees and companies to do the right thing? However, Roxanne shared a few things that are top of mind:

  1. Moments that matter: Ethena’s modular approach to creating training opens up opportunities to provide specific training exactly when an individual needs it. What if we could send training based on particular moments that we know someone is about to have?
  2. Let’s say someone is about to go on a business trip to China (when business travel is a thing again), and they need anti-bribery training before taking off. Or they’re about to interview several people for a position. Wouldn’t it be great if training on how bribery typically manifests in China is delivered a week before that trip begins, or interview training is delivered a few days before that interview block?
  3. Personalization by role: Ethena’s training is relevant, meaning we’re addressing the issues that are happening in 2021, and personalized on both the industry and tone levels, but tailoring the training based on an individual’s workstream is an exciting frontier. The one-size-fits-all approach does not work – an Account Executive should be getting different training than an Engineer, because something like money laundering looks really different depending on your job.

If you want to give it a listen (which we highly recommend, it’s chock-full of insightful tidbits), here are some links below: