NOTE: this is an occasional column that features local start-ups: new companies in the Central Ohio that show entrepreneurism done right...right in our home town.)
PAKRA Games turns the concept of business training on its head...the company creates customized on-line game-based training scenarios for clients that want to optimize hiring, speed training and continually improve team performance. Currently, PAKRA's games are focused primarily on sales and customer-service staff, traditionally the hardest positions to hire and maintain efficiently.
"Our customers want to shrink the variability they face today when trying to hire salespeople and service associates that work in call centers and help desks, say Rini Das, founder and CEO of PAKRA. "In particular, clients report huge variability in performance among salespeople, and it's something they don't learn until they have invested thousands in hiring and training."
PAKRA games can be used in the hiring process to help weed out unsuitable applicants, and to flag promising new hires for development and retention. PAKRA reports an average improvement of 13% in what they call "avoidable recruiting"...hiring people who won't make it.
In addition, game-based training can reduce total training time by 15%, and ongoing training can decrease turnover by as much as 17% (and 23% for members of a sales team). This represents major savings, since the average company spends thousands recruiting and training sales & service professionals before they even start being productive.
PAKRA's package of services includes game design services, use of the PAKRA online game console where applicants or trainees can sign on and use the game, and a reporting and analytics capability for managers. While traditional training often contains game scenarios, they are custom projects, with significant costs. PAKRA's edge is the online game design engine that speeds and simplifies the design of training scenarios, at a fraction of traditional costs. Moreover, the online game console provides additional flexibility for clients; for example, supporting a direct link from online employment applications to a test scenario on the console.
According to founder Rini Das, the real payoff for clients is less variability in hiring and developing talent: "Right now -especially in this economy - hiring is like going to Las Vegas…it's just too risky to spend on someone who may not work out, or is likely to leave before they become productive. Sales and service organizations that are confident of their payoff for hiring new staff will invest and they will grow. Our job is to make hiring and training more predictable, to weed out the unqualified before they are even hired and to develop new staff to their potential faster. The upside is more selling and better service."
Like many new businesses, the PAKRA start-up was funded out of its founders' pockets. But the company has plans to tap the venture capital market to help fund future growth.
PAKRA's home site is www.pakragames.com