Jason Trask

Jason Trask

St. John’s-based Safa, which uses an artificial intelligence solution to help companies retain employees, has launched its product Safa Insight and is already working with its first enterprise client in the U.S.

The company issued a press release last week that also said it has been accepted into Plug and Play, a Silicon Valley organization that runs a series of accelerators for business-to-business technology companies. As well as being the largest venture capital fund in the Valley, Plug and Play is often referred to as “the world’s largest innovation platform.”

Safa combines AI with industrial-organizational psychology in a single solution to help companies understand their employees’ sentiments and so better retain them. Safa said that companies have had to hire expensive consultants with long wait-times to gain insights into industrial-organizational psychology. Safa Insight aims to provide knowledge that allows employers to take immediate action to predict and reduce employee turnover.

“With declining unemployment rates and voluntary turnover rates at an all-time high, our team is passionate about improving the quality of life for others by making work better,” said Safa Co-Founder and CEO Jason Trask in a statement.

Trask, a long-time entrepreneur who has raised millions of dollars of startup financing and had a successful exit, started the company in 2018. After a pivot last summer, he was joined as Co-Founder by Mandy Woodland, a startup veteran and attorney. Trask and Woodland had worked together as entrepreneurs-in-residence at the Memorial University Centre for Entrepreneurship.

With its evidence-based approach, Safa reveals which employees plan to quit and why, and how to keep them.  Safa’s proprietary “Turnover Intention Index” was developed by its industrial-organizational psychologists based on validated academic research, and uses artificial intelligence so it continuously improves.

15 Teams to Pitch at Volta Cohort on Nov. 20.

The company also offers its “Safa Certification Process”, which provides employers with a structured, repeatable process to effectively plan and implement their employee retention strategy. Clients of Safa will become “Safa Certified,” a sign to their employees and other stakeholders that they adhere to the highest standards when addressing employee retention. 

“We source data from [human resources] IT systems, labour market research, and employee surveys,” said Woodland in an email. “Using algorithms we’ve developed in-house, we combine the expertise of industrial-organizational psychology with AI to provide employers with a simple method to measure the likelihood of turnover.”

The company then prescribes solutions and provides support processes for an employer to take specific actions.

Safa is focusing its sales efforts initially on hotels and private hospitals, and its first client is a Dallas-based company that is one of the largest professional employer organizations in the U.S.  Woodland said this company works “with the national healthcare industry to place full-time and temporary physicians into hospitals and clinical care facilities.”

The Safa team has grown to 12 people who have expertise in industrial-organizational psychology, computer engineering, data science, artificial intelligence, and business. Having bootstrapped so far, the co-founders are now raising their first funding round with a goal of $1 million.

As part of that effort, Trask will pitch Nov. 20 at the Volta Cohort pitching event, which will award $25,000 to as many as five teams. Safa is also pitching at the Americas Lodging Investment Summit 2020 in Los Angeles, the largest hotel investment conference in the world. And it will soon take part in Plug and Play.

“The Plug and Play network brings together the best startups and the world’s largest corporations,” said Trask. “As the most active and largest Silicon Valley venture capital firm, they provide the perfect ecosystem to raise investment and find partners and we’re thrilled to have their support.”