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Digital learning tech firm founded by a rugby icon moves to St. Pete

Veronica Brezina



HIVE's platform. Photo provided.

Thoughtful conversations on topics from race to mental health can be difficult for large-scale companies. However, a former U.K. rugby-world cup winning coach has created a platform to help companies foster such conversations – and prosper. 

Hive Learning, founded in 2013 and now based in St. Petersburg, started when Sir Clive Woodward, a well-known rugby coach, and digital venture builder Blenheim Chalcot joined forces to disrupt the digital learning sector. 

Woodward was coach of Great Britain’s rugby team from 1997 to 2004, leading the team to victory in the 2003 Rugby World Cup. 

“Every day [as a coach] he was learning, collaborating and strategizing new concepts and vetting these core concepts for the team. At the time, he had these books on learning principles and behavioral lessons,” said Hannah Garner, marketing and insight director of Hive Learning. 

She explained Woodward was familiar with the corporate world and worked at Xerox for several years. His fascination with the lessons of collaboration and strategizing on and off the field led him to turn those lessons into a digital platform.   

“Originally, it was only going to be for sports teams, but he quickly realized it can be applied for businesses too,” she said. 

“You can instill this everyday learning and create high-performing teams everywhere,” Garner said. “They were keen on the idea if people could learn from one another and share that knowledge.” 

Startup Report: Hive Learning 

Hive’s goal is to create a scalable group-based learning model that puts the responsibility of inclusion and resiliency into the hands of its employees to stimulate everyday learning and collaboration. 

The platform works by taking a pulse to measure the behavior at a certain organization, then building awareness and thus taking action and recommending behaviors and habits the organization should adopt. 

Hive has worked with large automotive manufacturers (such as Jaguar) to tech firms. 

One client case example is Sun Life, a Canadian-based financial services organization that provides insurance and wealth management solutions to individual and corporate clients. 

Sun Life has employees around the world, and the firm wanted to take an active effort to embrace the diverse perspectives of its employees. 

Sun Life launched an 18-month pilot program of Hive Learning’s digital inclusion program to 1,500 employees in North America and Asia.

In the pilot, the digital program embedded acts of inclusion into their daily behaviors and routines. The pilot was deemed successful as 96% of the employees said they believed the program will drive change at Sun Life, according to Hive’s website. 

After the pilot, Sun Life formally partnered with Hive Learning and become the first insurer to launch a digital learning platform to global employees. 

Garner explained that Hive has several pillars to follow when building a platform’s design content and engagement strategies for any company, including how it must be purposeful, in that a company wanting to build a more inclusive culture must take input from every individual. Another pillar includes social media accountability. The platform program must be peer-driven, and there must be action to ensure the learning is practicable. 

Today, Hive has an office inside the Industrious St. Petersburg co-working space. 

Hive relocated its operations from New York to St. Petersburg several months ago. 

Garner said an employee at Hive is from St. Petersburg and recommended the metro as the U.S.-based operations. She said Hive also wanted to be in close proximity to Tampa due to the metro’s growing tech scene. 

There are roughly 21 employees based in the U.S. and 70 internationally, as Hive as a hybrid model. 

Garner stated Hive has received additional funding, but she did not disclose the specific details. 

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