Local Economy

Lion's Lair: Hamilton developed software could revolutionize communication

Hamilton's Shelle Rose Charvet is known internationally for her conferences on effective communication. She's now becoming known locally for software that ensures your emails won't anger your boss.
Shelle Rose Charvet, CEO of Weongozi, speaks at a conference in Burlington Thursday. She is a finalist in this year's Lion's Lair competition. (Julia Chapman/CBC)

"There is a state called love and I am in it."

This is how a Japanese businessman once described to Hamiltonian Shelle Rose Charvet how one person might describe being in love.

Rose Charvet is facilitating a conference on effective communication. The room erupts with laughter when she gives this example.

At a downtown Burlington hotel about 30 people have given up two weeks to attend Rose Charvet's conference.

The participants are business and consulting professionals from 10 different countries, including Mexico, Indonesia and Germany.

Rose Charvet is a professional speaker and the CEO of Weongozi, a communications company that aims to "embed advanced psychology into advanced technology."

Her business is to show people "how to persuade effectively with integrity and respect."

She is well-known internationally for the effective communication conferences she runs, like the one wrapping up in Burlington, but it is the new product she developed that people in Hamilton are starting to notice.

Libretta is a cloud-based application that analyzes text and helps a user respond effectively.

Install Libretta into your desired software, hit the 'Analyze' button, and it will instantly deconstruct the meaning of the text and what motivated the author when writing it.

To assess motivation, it takes into account specific traits that come across in language. Is the language proactive or reactive? Does the writer prefer many options or fewer? Does the writer value the opinion of others or prefer to make decisions alone.

The 'motivating' part is what makes Libretta unique, breaking down the complexities of phrases and language and not just focusing on key words.

She says that's something that has never been done before.

The woman

Rose Charvet came to love languages while on a school exchange to Northern Quebec at age 15.She learned French in a small city because she had to. Few there spoke English.

She also had an early interest in how people read text.

"In university, I wasn't convinced my professors read my papers because I always got Bs and Cs," she told her conference audience. "I embedded jokes to see if they actually read them. They did because I got smiley faces and comments, but I still got Bs and Cs."

After university, she worked in France, where she discovered neurolingustics, or what people mean when they speak.

Rose Charvet has since written two books on language and communication, Words that Change Minds and The Customer is Bothering Me. Both are international best sellers.

Her father helped write Dofasco's slogan

Rose Charvet grew up in Hamilton and still lives in the city. Her father worked for the former Russell T. Kelley Advertising and was on the team that wrote Dofasco's slogan, "Our product is steel. Our strength is people."

Rose Charvet's company, Weongozi, was developed with her partner in both business and life, Dr. Michael Tschichholz, an IT scientist who lives in Berlin.

Charvet and Tschichholz have very different professions, but wanted to work together and combine both their expertise to "improve how people live their lives and do something good for the world." They started Weongozi and later developed Libretta.

The product

The Libretta software was an idea that grew around a dinner table. Rose Charvet was at a restaurant with hertwo brothers. One pitched the idea of automating what she does for a living.

He had a suggestion — "When someone gets and email, couldn't you just analyze it?"

"The very first application for Libretta is to automatically analyze what's motivating someone when they send you an email, but we wanted to make it better than that," she said. "We wanted to make it coach and guide someone."

Libretta also gives the recipient of the email tips on how to respond effectively, including what not to say.

"You could really screw something up with your boss or piss off a potential customer accidently by simply using the wrong language for that person," Rose Charvet said.

Libretta helps you avoid this, breaking down - based on previous text - how they think, how they make decisions and get motivated. It even recommends specific phrases.

Once you've written a response, Libretta gives you a score (anything above 50 per cent is good) on how well it fits the original email, or essentially how effectively you are communicating.

Rose Charvet said the applications for Libretta don't end at simply analyzing emails and making sure you don't anger your boss. It has clear marketing applications, too.

She cites an American statistic that states $30 billion was spent on online advertising with only a 0.025 per cent response rate.

"People don't click on stuff," she said. "Libretta can show what is really motivating someone when they are thinking about your product or service."

Advertisers can then use specific phrases and words to better attract their target market and potential consumers.

She said companies can also embed the cloud-based application into customer relation management software to ensure companies are saying and doing the right thing to attract and retain specific customers.

Right now, Libretta is in the beta stage and can be found online.

Rose Charvet is so excited with her new development, she "[has] trouble sleeping at night."

The Lion's Lair Pitch: Why Libretta should win

Eager to get more well known in Hamilton, Rose Charvet attended one of the Innovation Factory's pitch sessions. It was four days prior to the April 30 deadline for Lion's Lair applicants.

She was approached afterwards by some of innovation factory staff encouraging her to apply for the competition.

"We had four people, day and night, refocusing our business plan and working on the application," she said.

Rose Charvet said one of the best parts of being in the competition is working with the other finalists, bouncing ideas off each other and helping one another out.

But ask her why Libretta should win and her competitive nature shows.

"We've done something no one has ever done before," she said with pride, but softens up when she further explains.

"Humanity needs to communicate better. We need better understanding. That's why."

Rose Charvet has travelled around the world and has an acute sense that crisis and conflict come from communication barriers and sees how the software her and her partner developed can help.

"My skills can help people communicate better… and make the world a better place," she said.