Wendy Morgan of Shift

An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with Wendy Morgan (co-founder and CEO) of Shift, which was honored in our:
Tell us the origin story of Shift – what problem were you trying to solve and why?

When I was transitioning out of my position at a university job, I heard about a grant opportunity from Mozilla Foundation to propose a way to use technology to solve social issues. I had never used a VR headset, but was familiar with the research that had been done by Stanford. I wrote a proposal to design a VR classroom where we could bring teachers’ stress levels up and study their intersections with the students. Our study was designed to determine if VR could be real enough for experienced teachers that they would react as if there were in front of a real class. The prototype was such a success that I decided to start a company around the idea. When the pandemic hit, we decided to use our training platform to help train frontline healthcare workers in the donning and doffing of PPE and proper hand washing. Today, our courses addressing bias and infection prevention are being used by people around the world in not only healthcare but also non-profit and government.

What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?

For me, some of the biggest challenges have come from my lack of experience with startups and the steep learning curve I have been on. The shifting economy and the impacts that the pandemic has had on business have also presented challenges.

What does the future hold for Shift?

With the growing acceptance of and focus on VR technology, the future for Shift is very bright. I believe in our company’s mission to focus on addressing social issues and organizational culture, I believe that we can have a lasting impact on the lives of our customers around the world.

What are your thoughts on the local tech startup scene in Bend?

When I was first introduced to my co-founder, Maggie, I did not live in Bend, but after just a few weeks of coming here to work with her and meet other people in the business and startup community, I realized that Bend was unique in it’s focus on support and collaboration instead of the competition that I was accustomed to. Due to this wonderful environment, I decided to move my company and my family to Bend.

What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Surround yourself with good mentors and advisors and listen to what they have to say. You don’t have to take all the advice, but sort through it and take the advice that you feel will align with your passion and mission. Also, be flexible. We do not live in a static world so be willing to listen to the market you want to be in and adapt to fit its needs and problems. Don’t build a product looking for a problem- make sure your product fits an existing problem that is important to your customer.

 

For more exclusive interviews, see our full Profile of a Founder series
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