Shanghai Entrepreneurs: Matt Spriegel

By Dominic Ngai, July 3, 2017

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Shanghai is a city of entrepreneurship. In our series, 'Shanghai Entrepreneurs,' we talk to people from different backgrounds and businesses about their motivations, experiences and what they have learned along the way.

With almost a decade of experience working in education, advertising and healthcare industries in China, Matt Spriegel and his good friend Devin Licastro recently started Accelertrain, a company that provides customized mobile training platforms mainly for F&B and hospitality clients. In this interview, Spriegel shares with us the idea behind his business and why he considers his grandmother his biggest inspiration.

Tell us what Acceletrain is.
Only 23 percent of people retain what they have ‘learned’ after six days. Employees lack the right tools to train and help them get the job done. Accelertrain is a customized, mobile training platform. We support hard skills development so companies can focus on building great culture and improving customer satisfaction.

Tell us briefly about the background of you and Devin, and why you guys decided to go into business together.
We met in South China eight years ago and have always had a curiosity for Asia. Devin is an expert in gaming and computer programming, while I have spent most of my time here working in sales and operations. Devin is a brother and we both have a passion for learning. Our complementary experience made it easy to hop on the Accelertrain.

Where did the idea for Accelertrain come from?
After working in several industries, small and large, [I realized] there was a clear gap in training. High quality learning requires frequency, and classroom time alone cannot cover everything, so I developed a makeshift system to support my previous training programs. This planted the seed for developing Accelertrain.

Why did you decide to start this business in China?
Shanghai is one of the most dynamic markets in the world. Although seen as a challenge, cultural and communication barriers are actually the opportunities. People often complain about bureaucratic barriers, but with the Shanghai Free Trade Zone, it is actually fairly easy to get a business up and running here. 

“More than ever, employees need to have the skills to adapt and apply themselves cross-functionally”

What’s unique about Acceletrain’s training methods compared to traditional methods?
Our gamified engagement strategy brings users back to training every day on service standards, product knowledge and communications. Unlike other enterprise software, we have dedicated account managers who can help curate customized training modules for clients.

Do you tailor training programs for each client? What’s usually the process for this?
We are developing industry standard training, but at the moment 95 percent of our content is customized to each client. Clients send us training manuals, Excel spreadsheets and PPTs and we convert this material into an Accelertrain friendly format.

What types of businesses do you work with or specialize in?
Our main focus is on restaurants and hospitality, but we also work with clients like the British Consulate to support their language training and Mailman to speed up their onboarding process.

What’s the most difficult part about starting your own business in China?
I’d say with Shanghai being so busy and active, stress management becomes the major priority for building a sustainable business. We are always switched on and it’s important to keep a balance.

Where do you see Accelertrain in five years?
Accelertrain goes beyond training for managers. We want to be a fully integrated solution – helping organizations identify performance patterns and retention, while creating a culture of growth and opportunity. Our goal is to help companies build an agile workplace of the future. More than ever, employees need to have the skills to adapt and apply themselves cross-functionally.

Who is your greatest inspiration?
My grandma. She’s been in education for 50 years and always wanted us to follow in her tracks. Since we were little kids she has always said, “Spend time with people that lift you up,” and with the awesome team we are building, this will be a massive part of our success.

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