Get to know how your customers use your product. Physically watch them use it throughout their normal daily process if you have to. The more you observe your customers using your product, the more you’ll realize they use it in ways you never even thought of. Once you understand how it is actually being used, you’ll be able to work on building the best product there is.
As a part of our series about cutting edge technological breakthroughs, I had the pleasure of interviewing RJ Frasca.
RJ Frasca joined EBI in 2018. RJ brings over 20 years of marketing and product experience and has worked with numerous high-profile companies such as Yahoo, Microsoft, Time Warner, and Verizon on various marketing campaigns. He has extensive experience in digital marketing, product management, and community management, and is a well-known and respected social media strategist and thought leader. RJ’s responsibilities at EBI include strategic oversight of all product and marketing initiatives.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I have been working in the employment background screening industry for nearly 8 years. Prior to background screening I worked for many years in the healthcare industry. Both are very closely tied to compliance, and background screening is very focused on HR and risk mitigation for employers. When the pandemic hit, EBI’s Leadership team immediately saw the opportunity to help our clients and other businesses with mitigating risk while keeping employees confident and safe and businesses up and running as smoothly as possible.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I’m not sure I would call it a story, but the most interesting phenomenon I’ve observed since the coming of the pandemic, is the speed at which companies have adapted and responded to an unknown of this scale. The more I’ve talked to colleagues and new companies, the more I have seen Leadership teams lean on HR and IT for solutions. These departments, which are often more process and best practice driven have truly stepped up and been the creative minds behind solutions to solve this unprecedented problem. I have seen more creativity and problem solving this year, than I have in my previous 25+ years in the business world, and it has been exciting to be a part of it.
Can you tell us about the Cutting edge technological breakthroughs that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?
As I have seen many times before, the best solutions to solve specific problems often lies in utilizing many disparate systems. For example, it was once not uncommon to hear of HR departments utilizing over 50 systems to manage talent acquisition and onboarding. Over time, platforms with deep partner integration ecosystems became necessary to maintain productivity while providing critical data insights to make decisions. This is a similar scenario. As companies evaluate what components will comprise their overall health and safety solutions, they will ultimately be looking to centralize the data to provide those data insights critical to keeping business running smoothly. As for the modular components, most have been around for quite a long time, and are being repurposed for the pandemic. Thermal scanners are being used to record daily temperature readings, Ultra-wideband asset tracking has been repurposed to provide extremely accurate automated distance monitoring and contact tracing, occupancy tracking systems are being configured to meet the demands of ever changing governmental reopening regulations, etc. These existing hardware devices collect data that can all be used to monitor employees, visitors, students and more before they leave to come in, at the entrances to facilities and on premise itself. The health and movement data is then presented in a way that allows businesses to make decisions faster than ever before, while keeping employees and visitors safer, healthier and more confident. The technology truly allows us to get as close to back to normal as possible and stay there.
How do you think this might change the world?
Whereas we looked at these solutions in the beginnings as a means of getting business back up and running, the scaling and potential of the system has since evolved. By now, most companies have shifted their mindset and are looking to the future. I don’t believe business leaders will allow themselves to be this vulnerable again. Nor do I believe they will bring back employees without mitigating the risks of not only COVID, but any illness. The CDC Foundation reported in 2015, that the average cost of influenza for businesses averaged $87 billion annually. Now add what is very potentially a seasonal, and annual coronavirus to that number, and you are looking at a very real, very large problem businesses must solve. I think the change we will see result from this will very much be the “new normal” in the workplace, retail, hospitality, etc.
Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?
As we see time and time again, and increasingly so, data can obviously be misused for a multitude of reasons. This is where businesses need to take a very committed, very ethical stance to protect their employees and visitors. It will need to be approached from multiple angles, focusing on data security, and well-defined usage policy. However, I don’t believe this will be any different than any sensitive data.
Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?
The tipping point that led us to the realization of providing a full solution combining technology and process came when we spoke with our customers about what they were doing. Rather than a single tipping point, I would say it was the inconsistency of “band-aids” we were seeing applied to solve for problems never seen before. As a company, we already worked with the same decision makers working on solving these problems and have always been focused on risk mitigation.
What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?
I don’t think we will need anything more than time. As time goes on, and the pandemic’s end is not truly in sight yet, adoption seems to be picking up pace. What we once though could be over by the end of the year, even as we discussed the possibility of it not being, we have all learned that the cost of not addressing illness in the office far outweighs the cost of mitigating it.
What have you been doing to publicize this idea? Have you been using any innovative marketing strategies?
In what I can only attribute to researching the best solutions for any health and safety issue, we have become experts in this area. Although we are using traditional means to publicize the solution, we are gaining quite a bit of organic traction through word of mouth, media interviews, etc.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I would have to say Brad Snellings, who is now an Investment Manager at BLS Ventures. When I first met Brad, he was the CEO of Active Screening, a background screening firm located in Tampa Bay. Brad hired me on as the Director of Marketing. Working with Brad for 4 years, I learned nearly everything I know about background screening, product management, and leadership in general. Although I was very successful in marketing long prior to Active Screening, Brad inspired me to truly look at nearly everything I a different light and completely change my style of leadership in general. It’s hard to put into words, but when someone can affect that much change midway through your career, it gives you an inspiration to follow suit like nothing else can.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Although I can’t answer that from a success in the health & wellness arena yet, I can tell you about how and why I stay in the background screening industry. For man y years I worked primarily in the volunteer screening industry. Each year at our holiday party, the leaders would point out how many predators, criminals, etc., we screened and prevented from volunteering for positions serving children and or the elderly. Although it certainly is uncomfortable to hear the numbers, you rapidly realize how important the work you do is. I always keep that in mind as the foundation for the work I do.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
- I wish someone taught me to say the word “no” earlier on. For many years, I felt an obligation to say yes to any request, becoming a “jack of all trades” time and time again. It took me a long time and a lot of frustration to learn how to stay focused and simply say no to many asks that did not align with my priorities.
- I wish I hadn’t spent so many of my early years trying to recreate the wheel. I wish someone had instilled the value of finding and leveraging solutions that were already in place, so I could spend more time solving business problems.
- Get to know how your customers use your product. Physically watch them use it throughout their normal daily process if you have to. The more you observe your customers using your product, the more you’ll realize they use it in ways you never even thought of. Once you understand how it is actually being used, you’ll be able to work on building the best product there is.
- Trust your team. Take your time hiring and find people that fit. Once you have the right team in place, you can do anything.
- In the end, its results that count. Don’t get lost in the process. There are always numerous ways to solve a problem, Find the one that works best for you and your team.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
This is a tough one. I could think on this one forever. But if there were one simple movement I could inspire, it would be to be kind and be honest. If everyone were a little nicer and a little kinder, I think we would all be a lot happier.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.” ―C. S. Lewis. That quote helped me realize that I spent far too much time wishing I had done something differently. We all make mistakes. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get back on that horse. You’ll do better next time.
Some very well-known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
This pandemic has, at this point, changed the way we will do business forever. Employees, customers, and visitors will expect companies to be doing something to ensure their health and safety are being put first. Although the technology to automate and solve for this has been in place for a while, there has been no precedent or contextual need for putting together technology, process and people to ensure this safety, while keeping business running smoothly. We have truly created that comprehensive solution and it is ready to scale and evolve as fast as necessary to meet any health and safety need, while providing critical data insights helping you make business decisions as rapidly and confidently as possible.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
You can find me at https://www.linkedin.com/in/rjfrasca