Blog, NewsBy Tribeca Venture Partners
Sam Caucci has managed and coached sales and leadership teams for publicly held, private sector, and franchised companies across the globe.
Sam founded 1Huddle, a workforce training platform using game technology to help organizations better prepare their people for work. With clients across the globe, 1Huddle has impacted people across organizations in a wide array of sectors, with clients including Loews Hotels, ESPN, Audible (an Amazon Company), Madison Square Garden, and FASTSIGNS. Applying an innovative approach to preparing people for the workforce, Sam oversaw the creation of the training game platform, the first game-based platform that transforms the way organizations onboard, upskill, and fire-up their team members.
Before 1Huddle, Sam was the National Director of Franchise Sales & Marketing for the Parisi Speed School, where he directed the sales training program for 83 locations. Sam was also the Director of Sales at Life Time Fitness and the General Manager for Perfect Competition, where he managed sales, sponsorship, and negotiation for the team responsible for the training and development of over 2,500 elite professional athletes.
He is the author of the #1 Amazon Bestseller, Not Our Job: How College has Destroyed a Generation of Workers and How to Fix it, and has been featured on Fox News, Fox Business, CNN, CNBC, The Huffington Post, ESPN, Yahoo Finance, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and Bloomberg.
Tell us about 1Huddle and why you started the company?
Like any startup founder…I got pissed off one day. I’ve spent my career in the sports industry managing sales and service teams, so to say I have sat through my fair share of outside sales trainers and boring online training videos would be an understatement. Over the years, I found it was getting harder and harder to get employees performing as you expect, so I started to explore how we can use technology to speed up employee onboarding and upskill employees better for work. 1Huddle makes it easy for companies to convert (and super-charge) any training or communication into quick-burst mobile games. Our platform creates daily or weekly company-wide competitions where employees compete to win (and unlock rewards), while in the process, they are leveling up for work.
What’s been the most important milestone for you and the 1Huddle team?
Things move so quickly that it feels like we hit new milestones every day. From the first $100,000 client to breaking into new industries to closing our latest round…they are all big. For me, the thing I am most proud of is coming to work every day and seeing my team members individually hit their goals. The growth of our team over the last year has been tremendous and a major reason for our success.
There’s been a lot of talk about “the future of work”. Tell us more about what you see in the space and 1Huddle’s role in the future of work.
Companies today are seriously struggling with their employees. When I started 1Huddle, I knew that onboarding and training was a real pain point for enterprises, but I never realized how engagement was just as serious. Today, we work with brands across a dozen industries, and I have found that two main problems are facing our workforce today. First, access to job skill training and education is not equal. Across all industries, the full-time employees with the most education consistently get access to the majority of the training resources. This results in an environment where training, education, and communication never totally trickles down to the front-line workers that need it most. Second, jobs are changing faster in human history. So, many HR teams are oblivious to the impact that automation, robots, and AI will have on work, and they are also ill-equipped. I believe this provides a tremendous and important opportunity for technology to aid in this massive job migration that is taking place.
1Huddle is based in Newark, and we’ve heard about your partnership with the Mayor’s Office to train job seekers. Tell us about the impact you’re having in Newark?
When we moved to Newark, I encouraged my team to find ways to use our product to impact the community. After a few meetings with the Mayor’s office, we saw a major opportunity to assist the job readiness and workforce training programs that existed in Newark to help residents find and better prepare for work. The old way of deploying job skill training is highly ineffective — requiring residents to take time off to sit through long classroom sessions or requiring them to come into the job training center to complete learning modules. We took all the job skill training courses and converted them into a library of over 100 mobile games for residents to play. Today, we have had thousands of workers download, login, and play over 75,000 games to prepare for work.
What do you need to know before becoming an entrepreneur?
The team is more important than you. If you aren’t cool with that…then stick with your 9 to 5.
Our TVP Founders tell us there are so many lessons in entrepreneurship. What’s the biggest lesson from your 1Huddle journey?
You have to keep getting better. As a founder you end up wearing so many hats until the time you can start to hire or develop folks to move into new roles. It is critical that you stay hungry and are aggressively striving to soak up as much as you can from not just books, but also investors, other founders, mentors, and customers.
What’s your advice on what an entrepreneur should look for in an investor?
Someone who can make your company better. Beyond the investment…I believe getting an investor puts them on your team with you. You want an investor that challenges you and makes an impact.
How do you deal with failure or setbacks as you build a startup?
I have always had a “next play” mentality. As a former athlete and coach, I know that you cannot perform at a high level if you hold on to yesterday.
How do you balance being a CEO with everything else in your life?
It all comes down to structure. Too many founders have a calendar that either puts them in a position to get rundown or over commits them. I take calendar management to an extreme to ensure that I am properly balancing not just who and where I am spending my time, but also when is the best time to be taking certain calls or meetings. I commit to a calendar structure that always gives me the ability to balance my time appropriately between my team, clients, prospects, vendors, investors, and family. And I am always home to either say good morning or good night to Nico…my 3-year old daughter.
What are you currently reading/aspiring to read this winter?
I like war books. Currently, I am reading “Cannae: Hannibal’s Greatest Victory”.
Words to live by…
What you tolerate, you encourage.