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50 Innovative Companies to Watch 2022

‘We are passionate about empowering frontline workers to be able to do their very best in serving customers’: Chris Todd, CEO of Theatro

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“Our focus is on helping frontline teams set the stage for incredible experiences, much like seeing a play or going to a great film.”

Theatro is a Dallas-based technology startup pioneering the market’s first voice-controlled enterprise wearable for brick and mortar retail, hospitality, and manufacturing. The Theatro voice platform and voice-controlled wearable connect retail associates to vital enterprise applications; with Theatro, store associates stay focused on the customer without having to look at a screen to access information. Its solution increases sales associate productivity, conversion rates, and store profitability while enabling employees access to the information needed to provide new customer service levels.

Chris Todd, CEO of Theatro, spoke exclusively to The Silicon Review on how his company is accelerating digital transformation for the forgotten hourly workers.

Interview Highlights

The Inspiration behind the Inception

Theatro brings the advantages of IoT wearables and new workforce-optimized apps together in a SaaS offering to provide retail, hospitality, and manufacturing companies with a new breed of mobile solutions for hourly or deskless employees.

“At Theatro, we are passionate about empowering frontline workers to be able to do their very best in serving customers. Our focus is on helping frontline teams set the stage for incredible experiences, much like seeing a play or going to a great film. The frontline workers are the face of the brand, and in many cases, you could liken that to an actor on stage, performing to a crowd in a theater. Theatro’s brand is rooted in that aspect that frontline workers are on stage every day performing and delivering great customer experiences,” said Chris Todd.

Harnessing the Full Potential of Technology

Theatro’s ‘Heads-Up & Hands-Free’ platform unlocks an associate’s access to expert teammates and critical enterprise systems such as pricing and inventory management from anywhere in the store. It improves productivity with an instant connection to people and information; it also improves employee engagement and enables teams to meet their goals; customers can get help quickly without employees walking away.

“We empower frontline teams to be ‘Heads Up & Hands-Free’ by offering a suite of Voice Applications that connect teams to each other and the critical enterprise systems they need to do their jobs successfully. Our As-a-Service solution combines the advantages of an Internet of Things (IoT) voice-controlled mobile computer and new workforce-optimized apps to help improve communication, worker productivity, business performance, and the customer experience. A monthly Theatro subscription includes all aspects of device management, from repairs and replenishment to user support and software enhancements. And by eliminating the need to buy and maintain expensive devices to connect and reach teams, organizations are enabled to rapidly accelerate digital transformation to the frontline without delaying the benefits of software and hardware innovation,” extols Chris Todd.

“The Theatro Mobile Communication Platform is deliberately architected for an easy and secure enterprise network implementation, leveraging existing Wi-Fi infrastructure to connect end-users to the platform. To ensure optimal configuration within a current network infrastructure, Theatro partners with each customer to determine placement, ensuring both security and scalability. In addition, unlike stand-alone devices or point solutions, Theatro employs a hybrid cloud/on-premise model to enable a seamless enterprise-wide communications platform.”

Serving Clients Proactively

While some employees may have handhelds or walkie-talkies, the lack of a unified communication solution leaves a store team disconnected. Communication is a multi-step process for employees in these environments requiring more labor, even for simple tasks like finding a manager to check in for the day. Retailers’ biggest challenges are centered around connecting the entire team and ensuring they can access the people and information they need to do their job successfully.

“Theatro connects everyone in the store and across the enterprise with people and critical information they need to do their jobs well - not just a select few with expensive handhelds. Through simple voice command, our intelligent assistant connects employees with each other and enables employees to be heads up and hands-free so they can focus on customers and the task at hand,”

“Also, our headquarter teams have smartphones, and e-mail and can access information and interact with their co-workers on a whim, while frontline workers are forced to rely on two-way radios, or worse, overhead paging and antiquated phone systems - both of which are inadequate and force the frontline worker to walk away from customers. Frontline worker customer interactions have a lasting impression and often can determine the customers’ likelihood to return to the retailer again,” emphasized the Chris Todd.

Thriving through the Pandemic

“While there was a huge impact on our customers, Theatro continued working with customers remotely, deploying new services and applications to help them address their curbside and BOPIS processes. Our team kept shipping devices and collaborating remotely with customers to deploy new services. Our team continues to find new ways to assist customers in driving the adoption of our services with ongoing virtual training, deployments, and innovation discussions.”

Road Ahead

Theatro’s focus continues to be on partnering with customers to uncover additional areas of the retail experience that can be automated and streamlined to improve the in-store experience for both employees and customers.

“The two areas the retail market continues to be challenged with are labor shortages and how to connect their entire workforce effectively. The labor shortage continues to drive the increasing cost of staffing to meet the demands of both in-store and curbside services. As for their second challenge, retailers continue to look for ways to connect their entire teams to drive enhanced communication and to be able to deliver an elevated customer experience. We are poised to support retailers with a solution to overcome both challenges by helping them optimize staffing levels, reduce the need for overstaffing with automation, and by connecting their entire team no matter where they are in the store, parking lot/curbside, or across multiple locations. Our product teams are dedicated in their efforts to continue innovating on new applications that enable retailers to optimize their most critical resources while extending the in-store experience more dynamically beyond the four walls,” concluded Chris Todd.

The Visionary Leader Upfront

Chris Todd is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Theatro. He is responsible for leading Theatro’s overall direction, strategy, and growth. Chris is a “roll up your sleeves” type leader who is passionate about the strategy of a business. Chris believes almost every idea can be a winner; it’s about figuring out the strategy angles to drive success! As a co-founder, Chris has been instrumental in guiding Theatro from an early innovative concept into a fast-paced growth company. Chris has over 25 years of experience in senior executive positions with small startups and large multinationals in a diverse array of industries, including software, networking, and apps for leading hardware and software companies, including Cisco Systems, AppTrigger, Metaswitch, Extreme Networks, and Newbridge Networks.

“We empower frontline teams to be ‘Heads Up & Hands-Free’ by offering a suite of Voice Applications that connect teams to each other and to the critical enterprise systems they need to do their jobs successfully.”