Aboard Story Part 1

The story of Aboard starts in Trinity Bellwoods Park in central (maybe central-west depending on who you ask) Toronto.

ย min. read
July 24, 2023
The bench where the Aboard story began!

The story of Aboard starts in Trinity Bellwoods Park in central (maybe central-west depending on who you ask) Toronto. One fateful Saturday, in late September 2019, Lee and I found ourselves with a notebook, some craft fizzy drink with hemp extract in it (๐Ÿ™„), and the intention to explore business ideas. At the time, we were working on the idea of creating a new 'manager readme' format to help new or prospective employees get to know who they would be working for. This was spurred by this Tweet from a well-known Toronto-based entrepreneur:

Pretty exciting stuff eh? After playing around with this idea, I noted we were heading down the path of creating a new LinkedIn of some form which ultimately did not feel like the right solution. The question of why this readme may have been bothering the aforementioned entrepreneur so much came up, to which Lee responded, "Well, it'll help with onboarding." Picture now a blank page where "new employee onboarding" is written at the top of the page and from there a dozen arms & lines and connections start to form. When the sun finally started to set, Lee and I nodded, set some hard follow-ups, and parted ways.

So it began

Thus the adventure of what Aboard would become was underway. As with many other startup ideas, this was built on the personal experiences of the founding team. Lee had self-elected to establish and generally improve the new employee onboarding experience for the company where he currently worked. In doing so, he discovered the lack of support or tooling to help make this an easy and engaging experience. I, on the other hand, had been hired and worked for a few companies, both startups and larger enterprises, and felt that at both ends organization sizes, there generally was something to be desired with new employee onboarding. The best employees sometimes get is an empty (ideally clean) desk, a laptop (if they were lucky), and a 10 to 20 slide PowerPoint so that they could really get to know the company. I am sure many of you reading have been in this situation, having experienced that same moment after 30 minutes of flipping through the scant details in the PowerPoint of asking yourself "Okay, what now?"

What now indeed! This is where many-a-company fall short and do not have the time, resources, or knowledge to deliver an improved experience. At the start, Lee and I set out to change that.

Iteration one

We did speak with aforementioned Toronto-based entrepreneur, who shared a bit more about her thinking behind the Tweet. We in response shared that our brainstorming had twisted around to be beyond just a manager readme, and more about the entire new employee onboarding experience. She was intrigued, and so we left things. We went on to speak with and learn from 100+ HR professionals and leaders who are typically tasked with the setup & delivery of employee onboarding.

Our first 'release' ended up being a beautifully crafted 60-page new employee onboarding program. The idea behind this was to provide company leaders with the material, aka knowledge, to adopt & deliver better onboarding. The issue turned out not to be the knowledge we were providing, but rather the way in which it was given (turns out people don't like 60-page PDFs all that much!). So, with that very poignant feedback in mind, we decided to explore the idea of building our own piece of technology to deliver this. A single space dedicated to onboarding planning, setup, and delivery.

Ready to start?