LWOL Recap: Jason Suriano on June 19, 2019

June 26, 2019 13:23 By Aaron
Jason is the Founder and CEO of Rocketfuel Productions, a software and services company and creator of Trajectory IQ, an onboarding platform that helps employees get up to speed on their new job more easily using gamification.

Jason grew up in Lethbridge, where his family opened the first Italian restaurant in Southern Alberta in the 1970’s that "sold espresso to cowboys” as his Dad put it. Jason worked for the family business and had responsibilities including hiring and firing staff. Jason learned first hand how hard it can be to get employees to learn and buy into the story of the company. Though he didn't know it at the time, this experience would be foundational in inspiring Trajectory IQ.

Jason has an MA in Humanities Computing from the University of Alberta, where he has the distinction of being the first graduate in the world with this degree. Jason learned about coding with no tech background and realized he wasn’t very good at programming while working on a big project. As a generalist, Jason had a hard time finding work but landed at a local non-profit called the Heritage Community Foundation. They weren't entirely sure what to do with him and gave him free rein, so he decided to take some outdated binders called Edukits and turn them into digital resources to create online digital learning objects for kids. 

After being hired by Hotrocket Studios, Jason bought into the company as a partner. Their team built an online eLearning experience for the Royal Tyrell Museum called Seek Your Own Proof, which was a "Where in the World is Carmen San Diego" style app and the first fully cross-platform online, mobile, and real world educational game. Seek Your Own Proof became the first property of their new venture for custom productions called Rocketfuel and he and his partners created a pitch deck specifically around the distribution of Seek Your Own Proof. They sent the pitch deck around to as many companies in related industries that they could find including Discovery Communications in the US. 

Once they landed Discovery as their distribution partner, they raised $1M in seed round funding with Edmonton-based Venture Capital firm Foundation Equity to support the rollout and ongoing development of the platform. After 2 years, Discovery didn’t hold up their end of the distribution deal and Jason pulled the shotgun on their agreement - effectively ending the deal and causing the rights to their platform to revert back to the company. 

A few years later, Rocketfuel pivoted the initial Seek Your Own Proof platform to create Trajectory IQ, with ATCO becoming the first company to license the gamification software for employee onboarding, saving their managers 40% of their onboarding time and achieving an 85% engagement of each new employee before their first day on the job. Their second project was to create a financial literacy course for Boilermakers of Canada who decided against a custom built solution and said "why would we build a custom solution when you have something already built?" Jason knew the company was on the right track. 

Jason effectively bootstrapped Rocketfuel and the ongoing development of Trajectory IQ by re-packaging their existing software platform and licensing it to customers like ATCO, Lehigh Hanson, University of Alberta, Paris Jewellers, Radient Technologies, and many more. In fact, Jason has turned down a few different opportunities to receive grant funding from the Province. His philosophy? If it doesn't fit and it doesn't work, why do it?

Join Rainforest next Wednesday to hear from Sean Feehan of Drive Wyze