A Local Firm Targets Blue-collar Service Industries With Its AI Productivity Tools

A Local Firm Targets Blue-collar Service Industries With Its AI Productivity Tools

An AI tool for blue-collar workers is being introduced by a tech startup located in Richmond.

Recently, Rising Tide introduced a subscription-based program that aims to increase worker productivity and retention of information at service businesses including home repair shops, delivery services, and exterminators.

Following the product introduction, the business additionally obtained $650,000 in funding from investors in recent weeks to expand its workforce.

The new product, according to Rising Tide CEO and cofounder Jeff Corbett, is meant to address a problem that many service companies face: their employees, who perform jobs like delivery drivers, repairmen, and similar duties, typically rely on their own personal experiences to complete their work, meaning that a seasoned worker’s knowledge typically gets lost as employees come and go.

“Your HVAC repairs, your refrigerator installations from Home Depot, your lawn care. All these people have vans that are moving around and doing things, but once they get to the door, they’re basically using whatever is in somebody’s head. The churn of the industry, of people coming and going, is reducing the amount of success companies can guarantee,” Corbett said.

These companies can use Rising Tide’s software to develop online toolkits with employee-generated audio and video content. Workers in the field can access these materials using a mobile app and use them to learn about anything from a list of a homeowner’s peculiarities to advice on where to discover utilities at a residential property. Corbett compared the experience to searching YouTube for instructional videos.

“George, who is seventy years old and has been doing this since 1965 or so, will converse with you as if he were in the vehicle with you. “Hey, Mrs. Smith likes it when you back into the driveway,” he will say. According to Corbett, “This oil tank is under the magnolia tree on the right side of the house.”

According to Corbett, generative artificial intelligence is used in the new system.

“The customers we have right now have an issue with knowledge management, that issue is sharing what the best of their employees know with the employees who are newer,” he said. “That’s where AI comes in. Because you can take what’s in Sally’s head, push it out to other employees, replicate that knowledge and then walk them through how to do it.”

Employee buy-in, according to Corbett, is a crucial component of the platform since it is up to them to produce the how-to materials that their peers will utilize.

They are providing us with their content skills. We’re only trying to replicate the technology, and we’ll let them provide the know-how,” he stated. “All we need to do is encourage the exchange of knowledge; AI picks up new skills along the way.”

With the use of Rising Tide’s program, a customer can create an everlasting and easily available database with records like invoices, warranties, and other data that staff members can access in one location. Blockchain technology is typically connected with cryptocurrencies.

Similar productivity solutions are often targeted at office workers, according to Rising Tide’s vice president of strategic revenue, Rafe Wilkinson. On the other hand, the company’s program seeks to address what it believes to be an underserved market of blue-collar fields.

“Everybody is taking AI from a B2C, white-collar approach where it’s chatbots helping people write emails and that sort of thing. We’re really turning to the everyday, blue-collar worker. We’re automating their day, making it easier for them to get where they’re going and know what they need to do on a day-to-day basis,” Wilkinson said.

According to Wilkinson, as of the beginning of March, Rising Tide has 15 to 20 businesses signed up for its service.

The Rising Tide, the company’s software service, was introduced in January. The $650,000 investment round, which finished in late February, was completed prior to the launch and is being used to expand the Rising Tide team.

By June, the company hopes to have ten employees overall, up from its current six. In addition to other positions, the new personnel will mostly be software engineers and developers.

Rising Tide has raised over $790,000 in funding thus far. According to Wilkinson, the $140,000 friends-and-family round in the summer of 2023 was preceded by the February rise.

Going ahead, Rising Tide intends to raise an additional $2.5 million in financing.

The co-founders of Rising Tide are Corbett, Nels Yehnert, Craig Huber, and Zachary Robinson. The company was founded in 2022. Located in Shockoe Bottom’s Michael Wassmer Innovation Center, Capital One’s startup incubator, Startup Virginia, is home to the corporation.

With a background in logistics, Corbett said the business expanded its efforts after service companies showed interest in what Rising Tide was doing. Originally, the startup concentrated on last-mile deliveries.

“What we found out very quickly was that the issues we were solving were a lot more diverse than we expected,” he said.