Startup targets food manufacturers with e-learning safety training

[caption id="attachment_18400" align="alignright" width="288" caption="Brevidia founders Rhys Ludlow, Jane Rogan and Dan Needham"][/caption]

CORTE MADERA – Two Telecom Valley veterans have joined forces with a Marin maker of corporate videos to produce an e-learning curriculum, with an initial focus on food safety in the food manufacturing industry.

Corte Madera-based Ludlow Media Solutions, a 12-year-old video producer for Autodesk, Hewlett Packard, Chevron, The Gap and Albertsons, among others, will merge with and become the production division of Brevidia, launched by Rhys Ludlow, TriAccess Technologies co-founder Dan Needham and long-time telecom marketing executive Jane Rogan.

"Our management expertise and technical backgrounds and Ludlow Media's very talented production team add up to a winning combination," said Mr. Needham, Brevidia president.

His former company, integrated circuit maker TriAccess Technologies, was acquired by TriQuint Semiconductor last September. Some of the TriAccess investors are among the backers of the new company.

E-learning is the fastest-growing part of outsourced training, which is a $50 billion market. The team's decision to make its initial focus food handling safety followed a period of research into both e-learning methodology and the food industry.

"The increasing number of food recalls indicate a need for improved worker education," said Mr. Ludlow. "Many recalls are traced to human error."

According to a report by Food Processing Magazine in January 2009, food safety was the number one manufacturing priority in a survey of nearly 300 food processing companies. And 83 percent of the respondents are implementing employee training to improve safety.

An estimated 1.3 million people work in food production in North America. Brevidia has identified more than 400 companies with over $50 million in revenue or more than 500 employees in processing, said Ms. Rogan.

"If we expand into the food service industry, our market will be multiplied by a factor of 10," she said.

Brevidia intends to film its first courses in February, on location at the Petaluma Creamery.

Seven actors have been hired, all bilingual in Spanish and English so that two versions can be produced.

"These won't be stand-alone courses," said Mr. Needham. "Our research into learning methodology suggests a curriculum of several courses of about 15 minutes each. And workers with literacy difficulty won't have to take a written test to verify their mastery of the material. That can be done through visuals."

The courses will be offered on a subscription basis. The company intends to align the course material to complement the HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) system, now mandatory for juice and meat production.

Brevidia's team currently numbers six, including the production staff and an expert advisory board. The company hopes to have a dozen employees within the year. Mr. Needham, who also teaches at the Santa Rosa Junior College, said after developing broadband access equipment to enable high-quality video over fiber and wire, "I'm ready to contribute to the content end."

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