Del Mar startup recognized as ‘Cool Company’

Christina Asbaty and Shavon Lindley
(Larry Kessler)

A Del Mar education technology startup company has been recognized as one of 32 “Cool Companies of 2021” by Connect, an organization that helps promote San Diego’s top technology and life sciences startups for funding.

The founders of the company, ion, say that they are offering a virtual platform for educational organizing, scaling, encouraging collaboration and other tools for workplaces. They are also excited about the additional exposure. According to Connect, Cool Companies have received more than $650 million in Series A funding since 2015.

“I was really inspired by the idea of helping so many people in this way, through learning,” said Christina Asbaty, one of the company’s founders. “A lot of this platform has to do with creating accountability and learning in groups, and we learn best through storytelling. I was super inspired by that.”

The company has experienced greater demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced many employees to work together virtually.

“There are so many different places we want to go,” Asbaty said. “We have our own courses that live on the platform. A lot of our clients want to put their own because they see the value of the group learning aspect, and not many platforms offer that.”

Shavon Lindley, ion’s other co-founder, said the increased attention to social justice issues and racial equality has also created a demand for ion courses that address those issues, in addition to achieving greater equity in the workplace.

“It just is shining a spotlight on the fact that organizations are ready for a change in the way they look at how they develop their employees and the pipeline of talent that they have, and that you can’t just hire a bunch of diverse talent and expect that they’re going to stay,” she said.

Lindley added that she “hit the ceiling” during her previous career in financial services, which is part of what inspired her to move forward with ion.

“That’s when I wanted to create a learning program and platform that was scalable enough that would train employees at all levels of a company, including people who are in first levels of leadership or high potentials,” she said. “That’s where a lot of diverse leaders sit with an organization, but companies don’t ever have a way to get training down to that level because it’s been really cost prohibitive.”

ion serves companies that have approximately 3,000 to 10,000 employees and want to be fast-growing, innovative organizations. Lindley also said that ion is “solving two of the biggest issues organizations have in one platform.”

“It’s a combination of companies realizing that the old way of learning can’t be done anymore in the same way, we can’t get into a classroom with people right now, but it actually really was never that efficient of a model,” Lindley said. “So now they’re realizing there are so many new ways of doing this.”

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