Spotlight on Terawatt

Terawatt is a marketplace that connects business experts and coaches to professionals looking to improve upon specific soft skills. CEO Francie Jain set out to make career development easy and affordable for everyone, all while being a working mom. Terawatt supplies the coaches and virtual courses, and the user chooses the subject, date and time that is convenient for them and we had the chance to chat a bit more with her to find out all about Terawatt and where they’re going in the future.

  1. Terrawatt! Tell us in your own words what it is and how it helps?

Expert career coaches are hard to find, and what’s more, their in-demand insights & feedback can be expensive. Terawatt allows you to leverage cutting edge technology to connect with vetted career coaches who specialize in improving communication, problem-solving and managerial skills.

We supply the supportive coaches and the engaging virtual courses, and you choose the subject, date and time. Then all participants meet up for a live and lively discussion designed to maximize cognition and retention.

  1. Working moms are incredibly busy and have almost no time to themselves, what are the special benefits of using the platform as it relates to a mom who is juggling a ton?

It is funny because this idea of virtual group coaching actually started with Moms who are juggling a lot! My vision was that users of Terawatt wouldn’t have to leave their house, they could so it while their child was at home, likely sleeping at night or taking a nap by day. Plus, the group nature of the course makes it far more affordable and “test-able” than a big multi-month commitment.

But even as I initially designed this for Moms, it turns out that those parameters work for everyone. Who doesn’t want an affordable way to access excellence? Who doesn’t want to be able to learn while wearing sweatpants? Who doesn’t want to save time and money on getting to an in-person class?

  1. Coaching really has seen a rise in the last few years, tell us more about some of the target areas that the coaches address?

I think that the rise in coaching is much more about people understanding that it exists more than anything else. The growth rates of coaches aren’t actually much higher than the average US industry.

In my opinion, the change is that we are becoming more aware that coaching is valuable, and if you live in a city you are likely to meet people who are coaches. It turns out that coaches are primarily in highly populated areas because so much of the usual process of finding clients is by word of mouth.

In my mind, there are two buckets of coaches: life coaches and career coaches. I believe that they are two sides of the same coin. Life coaches are helping their clients find balance, purpose and strategize on big changes. Career coaches are focused on one’s profession or targeted profession and sussing out the same issues, balance, purpose and future.

Ultimately, coaches are great at providing a positive framework to create lasting change in a person’s life. Coaches are different from your friend and family because they are knowledgeable about how to help their clients break free of guilt, fear or any other emotions that hold them back. Coaches are there to be strategists, confidants and cheerleaders. Coaching differs from Psychotherapy in that it is not reimbursable by health insurance, and that it is more forward thinking than the services that psychologists provide.

To give you a sense of who coaches are, most come from another area. Some coaches have a background in Human Resources, some in psychology and others specialize in soft skills like presenting or management that they have researched or taught for years.

  1. We’d love to know more about your CEO, Francie Jain and her backstory before arriving at Terawatt?
  • My career in marketing has served me well as a startup founder. As a result of connecting with so many types of people for my job, I have a huge network and also an ability to connect with people easily. It makes it really easy for me when I am stuck on a problem or need advice about a path—I just reach out to my contacts to see if they have advice. I never thought about how important communication is to a start up, but many times I find that big breakthroughs of ideas or features come from speaking to people. 

 

  • I grew up in a family of three kids, as the middle child and only girl. So growing up, I felt both special and the same as my brothers. Ultimately, that feeling of rolling with the punches—my specialty as a middle child—is what we now call grit. But within family activities, there were plenty of times I would quit a family soccer match or a game of Monopoly if I felt I was being ganged up on. Now, as an adult with my own family, I recognize the roots of my ability to get messy with a goal as long as I have conviction that I am playing a fair game.  

 

  • I graduated from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, a wonderful experience where I learned about finance and economics. After graduation, I focused on a career in finance and spent the past ten plus years marketing alternative investment funds to institutions. My last gig in that space was founding a consultancy where I raised institutional capital for emerging markets-based equity hedge funds. I maxed out on finance and fundraising because it felt to me that for an industry based on rationality and numbers, there was still so much irrationality in how people were treated.   

 

  • So, I started thinking about what it would be like to create my own business—where I would be able to benefit from all of the good things that happened as opposed to trying to quantify my impact as a consultant. I became curious about what it would be like to create a product and get involved in all of the decisions instead of advising on one aspect of selling it. I had always known that when I have complete ownership of a project I am far more invested and do a much better job than when I am responsible for a piece of it.

 

  • I spent years coming up with ideas, thinking to myself, “Would this be a good business?” One such idea was a website that listed the hidden non vegetarian ingredients in foods a person might assume to be free of meat products. An example is Rice Krispie Treats: nearly all products that mass-made marshmallows as an ingredient are not vegetarian because the biggest marshmallow brands use gelatin, a byproduct of pork. It turns out other people had that idea and there are actually hundreds of great websites that list hidden meat products. 

 

  • I finally hit upon an idea that didn’t seem to exist. The genesis of Terawatt was me trying to find a LinkedIn of job change—a place where the mission was to make change easy and affordable. I was looking into where someone in manufacturing, for instance, would go online for help if their job was being outsourced. I kept searching and searching, assuming that I wasn’t using the right key words. It seemed as obvious to me as a hidden ingredient site. 

 

  • After a few weeks of searching, I started to do real work coming up with data on employment and on the psychology behind change.  

 

  • Ultimately, Terawatt evolved into a marketplace that makes professional coaching affordable through virtual, group classes with talented career coaches. Eventually, I hope to be able to offer more retail classes where we can help people with career transition. 

 

  • My career in marketing has served me well as a startup founder. As a result of connecting with so many types of people for my job, I have a huge network and also an ability to connect with people easily. It makes it really easy for me when I am stuck on a problem or need advice about a path—I just reach out to my contacts to see if they have advice. I never thought about how important communication is to a start up, but many times I find that big breakthroughs of ideas or features come from speaking to people. 
  1. Do you feel that the playing field is getting any more level in the business world when it comes to women? Where do you see the most areas for improvement and what part does Terawatt play in the large global effort to overcome these challenges?

Yes, it is evolving to be more inclusive of women and under represented minorities. If for no other reason than people are talking about it and asking questions.

As I am starting to look at building out a team, it has been interesting for me to speak to headhunters who see a broad view of the tech industry.  says that more and more jobs are offering flexibility. What is interesting is that many times flexibility isn’t just an employee benefit, it is also savings for companies—paying less rent.  In addition, many employees are saying that as hoc meetings can’t be assembled when people are off site, so managers have to be more efficient with the times everyone is together. It is a win-win for both sides.

In addition, my company, Terawatt, is targeting HR departments and, in response for millennials advocating for themselves and their careers and a low unemployment rate, large companies have been acting on research showing that career development and skills training for current employees positively impacts retention, innovation and profitability.

In looking at those two examples it seems that there is now a positive interplay between company outcomes and employee needs that is expanding what is possible for employers. The openness that this requires in large corporations has to make an impact culturally and trickle down to all employers and I would expect this will impact women and flexibility for caregivers.

Terawatt is an outsourced provider for Hr and Learning & Development teams. It is our hope that we are part of this new wave of win-win solutions for companies/employers and employees.

  1. What’s next for the platform?

We are close to having a strong offering. We’re working on some not too hard to create features that should make it easier for adult students to find classes that work for them. This is effectively the marketplace.

Once that is done, we will be working on a bigger idea which is creating our own custom technology that makes it easy for coaches to effectively teach and connect with students and easier for students to learn online.  This next step is a bigger idea, and hopefully it is something we can share with others so that we help make online learning more impactful and ultimately helpful.

Previous

Next

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest