The deal, which closed in December, will see Spiffy’s entire team of six absorbed into Oliver. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“We are really excited to be in a position to explore the full potential of our product.”Chris Snoyer, Spiffy
Founded in 2016, Spiffy initially launched a micro-learning platform for restaurants looking to upskill employees on in-store products and brands. Through the platform, restaurants can create bite-sized product knowledge modules, and employees could learn in five to 10 minutes of learning per week.
The startup, which has raised no institutional capital during its existence, completed The DMZ program in 2019, and secured contracts with beer giant Molson and restaurant chain Milestones. “Just as we started to figure things out, COVID hit,” Snoyer said.
By 2020, Spiffy was still predominantly serving restaurants, but also occasionally worked with businesses in other sectors. In February of that year, the startup had signed its first cannabis retailer, Friendly Stranger.
Just two weeks later, after stay-at-home orders went into effect and the pandemic shuttered restaurants globally, Spiffy’s revenues fell by between 40 and 50 percent. “With no employees to train, there was no need for a training platform,” Snoyer added.
This meant the startup had to look at new sectors, and that year, Spiffy decided to pivot into the cannabis retail space.
“The use case is actually very similar,” Snoyer added. “So, instead of recommending a beer, wine, or spirit, I’m just educating you on a different type of cannabis, the terpenes within it, the different effects that you may or may not feel, [and] you have to be careful about what you say there from a regulatory standpoint.”
Given the restaurant industry’s post-pandemic rebound, Spiffy continues to serve a number of restaurants, such as Freshii, Shoeless Joe’s, and Quesada. On the cannabis front, the startup recently launched its first US cannabis retailer, and counts over 1,000 retailers on the platform, such as Inspired Cannabis, Canna Cabana, and One Plant.
Oliver Solutions provides regulated e-learning and compliance solutions in the financial, real estate, and travel industries. When it was founded in 1983, the firm provided industry-entry in the Canadian securities industry.
Oliver Solutions later went to create a life insurance license certification program, and gained entry into the US continuing education market in 2013. One year later, the company launched a B2B edtech platform that provides a regulated education solution.
Snoyer sees several areas where Spiffy’s and Oliver’s offerings complement each other. For one, Oliver Solutions is known for its presence in highly regulated industries, which aligns with Spiffy’s growth ambitions in the cannabis sector. Spiffy recently submitted a bid to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario to deliver regulatory training on cannabis.
“It’s a natural extension of our central learning hub model, where we are trying to get as much … need-to-know information to the fingertips of those frontline employees,” Snoyer added.
In a statement, Robert Gardias, CEO and president of Oliver Solutions, highlighted Spiffy’s unique approach as a major factor that drew interest. Spiffy operates in industries typically facing low employee engagement by adopting a gamified approach to learning.
“We’re eager to blend Spiffy’s insights into Oliver’s programs, enhancing our clients’ learning experiences and providing top tier value,” Gardias added.
Spiffy is now looking to expand to new markets beyond restaurants and cannabis, such as cosmetics, sporting goods, experiential marketing, and the automotive space, the latter being a focus area for Oliver Solutions as well.
“We are really excited to be in a position to explore the full potential of our product and explore how we can impact training for other industries,” Snoyer added.
Feature image courtesy of Spiffy.