Interview with Founder and Chief Product officer, Emoquo – Tim Aston


1. Tell us about your role in Emoquo?
Founder and product director, responsible for investment and product development.

2. Can you tell us about your journey into this market?
Many years ago I faced a challenging and stressful relationship with a colleague and didn’t know what to do about it. A friend suggested I talk it through with a coach, which at the time I never knew existed. The resulting conversations with the coach changed my life and helped me resolve the challenging relationship. As a result of this I got interested in learning about and experiencing different therapies, coaching and facilitation techniques and bringing these learnings into my work. At the time I was working as a consultant on large change projects and I noticed many frontline employees didn’t know how to effectively deal with hundreds of everyday challenges, similar to my past experience. Emoquo was created by bringing together my network of coaches and therapists, capturing their insight, expert knowledge and guidance to these everyday challenges and delivering their advice using a digital coaching app.

3. How do you think technology is changing the HR Sector?
From our perspective we aim to empower people to take responsibility for themselves, to handle both positive and negative situations more effectively and remove the need to go to HR for support. HR teams have been reduced and haven’t the resources to be able to support employees face to face as they have done in the past. They now rely on their Line Managers to take responsibility for resolving team issues. Overlay this with the fact that most Line Managers get promoted because they have the right technical skills not because they are the best people managers. And the primary role of a manager is managing their team – technically and emotionally. Emoquo is designed to support people using emotional intelligence learning to increase their confidence so they can manage themselves and others more effectively.

Why is employee engagement gaining more focus of the employers in present time, according to you?
Mental Health is higher on the agenda, productivity is still low in UK, and millennials are demanding a far higher quality of working life – working practices, environments, support structures and career advancement. How many bosses have said, “Our most important asset is our people” how many walk the talk and support their people in a meaningful way? Engagement surveys capture a moment in time, are designed from the top down and most people lack trust in the way they are used. The need is to capture exactly what is happening, the reality of the organisation and then support people with the challenges they face.

4. Do you agree that mental health of working professionals is degrading with time?
No, people are just far more aware of this issue. The stiff upper lip attitude doesn’t work, trying to be positive all the time doesn’t work – to improve quality of life people need to develop their self-awareness and emotional intelligence skills. These skills help to deal with the pressures and stresses at work. In any environment with groups of people working there will be issues and challenges and these have been around since the bringing of human evolution. The working environment has changed but human behaviours haven’t, it’s how we deal with them, how we take control, that can make the real difference.

One tiny behavioural change multiplied across all employees can make big change happen.

How does your platform help organizations in improving their work culture and achieve employee satisfaction?
Emoquo helps people resolve the everyday people challenges they face, stopping the small issues become big HR headaches, encouraging and motivating employees in making positive changes that will enrich their lives and enable them to reach their potential. Our research with over 100 organisations, covering many industries, proved that disengagement through demoralising behaviours equates to a loss in productivity costing over £1m per 1,000 employees per annum. By helping people deal with these demoralising behaviours and encouraging positive behaviours Emoquo increases employee satisfaction. With 1 in 4 employees in our client organisations using our coaching app, a non-mandatory solution, they are taking greater ownership for their own personal effectiveness.

5. For our audience, can you give a detailed explanation on how does Emoquo helps working professionals?
Emoquo works on two levels. Firstly for senior management, the Emoquo Truth Analytics uncovers the reality of their organisation’s culture – what’s really going on under the surface. This enables the design and adaption of people strategies based on real needs, not assumptions or hearsay.

Secondly, for all employees, the Coaching app increases their personal effectiveness; they get the help they need, when they need it. It’s a just in time resource providing insights and guidance on hundreds of everyday workplace issues. These insights can be put into practice immediately through the use of the app. It’s 100% confidential and guides individuals who don’t know what they don’t know to the right advice. Reassuring they’re doing the right thing and gives them confidence to take action. The coaching app has a chatbot style interface taking the user on a journey of discovery through intelligent prompting to find the insights and guidance they need. This advice is created in our unique knowhow module, containing a short mini-drama video, how to guide, behavioural consequences, body language and multi choice embedding question. We currently have 650 knowhows live in the app covering, performance management, conflict resolution, difficult conversations, self-management and many more topics, which are being continually added to. Our content is aimed at Line Managers and employees and our pricing encourages organisations to provide Emoquo to all their employees – developing the future talent of the business from within.

6. What advice would like to give to the upcoming HRTech Start Ups?
Check out the space as there are lots of apps covering many different topics for wellbeing, mental health, motivation, performance management etc – the market is saturated making it difficult to sell into as HR people are much more selective in purchasing new solutions no matter how good the individual solution is.

7. What technology according to you that will leave its mark in 2019?
The beginnings of AI, still in infancy – lots to come in 2020

8. How do you prepare for an AI-centric World?
We have already developed our foundation EQ model, produced over 800 mini drama videos with EQ insights and guidance modules, created coaching conversational flows with integrated emotional monitoring. These form the basis of our coaching conversations and with AI we will enable hyper-personalisation coaching experiences for our user community. The Emoquo Truth Analytics will use AI to analyse trending workplace challenges, emotional states, commitment and motivation levels so senior management can see a heatmap of what’s really happening under the surface of their organisation. We can offer benchmarking of roles, departments, organisations, markets and eventually countries to measure and understand the emotional resilience of these groups.

9. What are the major developments you are planning, in recent times?

10. Can you tell us about your team and how it supports you?
Emoquo is a small team of highly experienced people who cover technology, coaching and therapy, data analysts, sales and marketing. We work closely together, share ideas and keep each other informed of the changes we see in the market place – from other competitors, partners, clients, users and our experts. Our passion is to improve the lives of employees so they can achieve their true potential and in doing so increase productivity across the board.

11. Which Book are you reading these days?
Several – Blitzscaling, The undefeated Mind, The Third Policeman (again)

12. We have heard that you have a very joyful work culture, we won’t mind having a look at some of the pictures?
We’re so joyful that we enjoy the experience rather than take pictures of it!!!

Tim Aston Founder and Chief Product officer, Emoquo

Tim has over 25 years’ experience leading large-scale behavioural change projects for global brands, including HBOS and Citi. A proven, inspired entrepreneur, he’s taken two startups to a successful exit and drives the Emoquo product forward.


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