Jena Davidson, Founder and CEO of Jenson8, is a leadership development expert with deep experience in consultancy and assessment. She set up Jenson8, a fully immersive VR platform, with the belief that learning in the workplace can look and feel entirely different from the current learning and development landscape we find ourselves in.
While Jena’s background has its roots in consultancy and training, her passion for tech was sparked by its role in behaviour change. Identifying an opportunity to harness VR to test, identify and change behaviours, Jena evolved Jenson8 through the introduction of a tailored metaverse platform alongside psychometric testing – providing robust, actionable data for leaders and teams to learn from.
Since founding Jenson8 in 2008, Jena has continued to drive enhancement of the platform and to grow its customer base internationally, to make working processes or working relationships better. Jenson8 is recognised for the second year running in Gartner’s Market Guide for Corporate Learning Technologies.
Jena and her team are passionate about transforming leadership and team development through engaging experiences that evolve businesses and empower leaders.
Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?
I started my career in consultancy, training and assessment, working with leaders and teams to unlock their potential and drive positive change. I’ve always been interested in technology and its role in transforming business practices and behaviour change, with a passion to do this at scale. This is how I came to evolve Jenson8.
Jenson8 is a human-centred HR tech company enabling lasting positive behavioural change, by bringing teams together to drive impact, champion positive behaviour change and grow businesses. Backed by science, it provides diagnostics, including dynamic psychometric testing, and robust, actionable data for teams to understand, challenge, and change their behaviours.
How did the idea come to you for the company?
There is huge potential to make transformational changes to L&D, using innovative technologies to help L&D adapt to new ways of working and motivate and unite teams which will ultimately help businesses achieve their goals.
Given my interest in tech and my expertise in learning and behaviour change, I saw an opportunity to address the L&D rut, harnessing VR as a dynamic tool to do so. I went on a journey trialling and research different VR and L&D tools, looking at where the gaps were, and that’s how Jenson8 was born.
How did you achieve awareness?
Like all start-ups it is about using your connections, matched with strengths and expertise in the business sector. With my experience in consultancy, learning and development I knew people in the industry or who to approach, who may be interested in transforming their L&D practices. We start by demoing Jenson8, rounding off with a psychometric assessment and conversation about what teams have learnt and how they are going to take that forward into the business.
Building a solid team who are passionate about sharing Jenson8’s story has also been key to achieving awareness, by sharing our opinions and passions through dedicated blogs, feature pieces and award entries. Conversations and recommendations from others have support us from there.
How have you been able to gain funding and grow?
Running a start-up has of course had its ups and downs, but through perseverance, adaptability and being surrounded by a great team, we have achieved significant growth, working with top tier c-suite businesses from around the world to transform their businesses practices and employee growth.
Building and sustaining these early client relationships has been pivotal to our growth. Through regular demo’s we’ve built our client base on trust, expertise and innovation. This is evidenced in the testimonials we’ve received throughout Jenson8’s implementation into businesses, enabling us to keep building momentum and help to drive success in other businesses.
What are the key successes?
Jenson8’s Apollo VR experience provides faster training than the classroom, with higher levels of engagement and retention. We never rush people to complete the experience, but we measure the time taken, what employees get out of the experience and how they apply what they’ve learnt to their workplace behaviours.
The unique psychometric testing provides multidimensional reports that give performance feedback for both individuals and teams, clearly laying out key takeaways from the experience and how they can be implemented.
The ability to use this technology anywhere in the world, from the workplace to your t home office, significantly reduces time and travel costs for individuals and for businesses.
What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?
There have been many challenges along the way and times where I’ve questioned myself. Early on it was about building the platform, attracting clients, and growing the business. Surrounding myself with the right team has been key to overcoming challenges, by drawing on each other’s expertise and skill sets to build Jenson8 into the business and platform it is today.
Over the 15 years I have learnt a lot and have championed methods and practices that work for me and my team – it’s been our own test and learn approach, but we’ve always backed ourselves in the end.
What are your plans now/for the future?
Continuing to grow Jenson8’s client base and as a business. Virtual reality is often undervalued in business, just as much as failure is seen as a taboo in the corporate world.
But the feedback we hear from companies who work with us proves the value of VR within an organisation, and its potential to transform learning and development. At a time of hybrid and remote working, it can engage and enthuse employees from around the world. We believe that a commitment to diversity, inclusion and behavioural change can lead to a better world, and we want to be at the forefront of this.
What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?
Find your passion and go for it. You won’t see the results you want straight away, but with time, patience, and trust in others, you can start something amazing.
Also, build a network of support around you. It’s fantastic being a founder and CEO and seeing your ideas come to life, but you really can’t do it alone. Find people who share your passions and who are committed to taking your idea forward; then you’ll really excel.
Can you share your top tips for entrepreneurial success?
Be bold and take action!
Don’t be afraid to speak out, try, fail and fail again. It’s not going to be an easy journey, but by giving something your all and backing yourself, you can learn and grow.
Doing is key – if you have an idea about how to grow your business, pursue it. If it’s right then your business will grow in the way you expected, if not, then you’ve learnt something for next time.
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