This week’s Granicus Profile focuses on a corporate inclusion training company, called StoryBolt. They help facilitate the implementation of diversity, inclusion and belonging through the art of documentary storytelling. They unpack difficult stories, with the hope of shedding light on diverse cultures and unique experiences through film.

In this series, we take a look at different companies within the Granicus Group Portfolio, who runs them, why they’re of interest and where they plan on going.

A Word from Granicus Group

“The pandemic has radically changed the importance of HR. Combined with the #MeToo, the Black Lives Matter movement, a shift to work-from-home, and hybrid workforces going forward, HR is itself undergoing a radical change, at an accelerated pace. Storybolt’s commitment to leverage technology to make HR more constructive, inclusive, empathetic, and ultimately human, is inspiring and its influence on its clients and partners is impressive”

Ashkan Karbasfrooshan

1. Company’s Elevator pitch

StoryBolt is a corporate inclusion training company with a radically innovative and science-backed approach to inspiring empathy and building more inclusive workspaces. Their platform offers employers documentary films about subjects like diversity, mental health, racial injustice and implicit bias. StoryBolt’s novel active learning Mpathi™ methodology facilitates attitude-changing conversations around topics of Diversity and Inclusion, using the power of documentary storytelling and guided discussion.

2. Who?

StoryBolt is a multidisciplinary team of social scientists, educators, engineers, and business strategists who are passionate about technology, innovation, social impact, and storytelling. 

Nassim Abdi, is an award-winning co-founder and CEO of StoryBolt. An educator, actor, storyteller, and inclusion evangelist, Nassim has adapted her decades of experience into training businesses how to model empathetic leadership and build inclusive workplace environments. Her novel active learning Mpathi™ methodology is trusted by Google Cloud, Brad’s Deals, United Airlines, and many more.

Babak Shakmansouri is an award-winning serial social impact entrepreneur and co-founder of StoryBolt. With over 15 years of experience as a founder at the helm of four startups, Babak brings considerable experience to StoryBolt. He focuses on rigorous measurement and quantifying StoryBolt’s impact on empathy.

Chris Halliwell is a lifelong executive educator, mentor and consultant serving as a strategic sales and marketing advisor to StoryBolt. Over nearly 30 years of teaching technologists and scientists about business strategy, she discovered first hand the illumination and staying power of her Kansas-bred folksy storytelling to create an emotional connection to complex topics.

Sahar Hariri is StoryBolt’s Chief Product Officer, with nearly a decade of experience in bridging sales, product, and technology as a product and operation lead in the startup space. Sahar is responsible for developing the strategic product vision, leading the development of StoryBolt’s platform, and overseeing product operations while building for scalability.

Tim Davisson is StoryBolt’s Chief Revenue Officer. With over 15 years of experience in global marketing and enterprise sales in leadership and organizational development for the Fortune 1000, he is responsible for building strategies that drive new business acquisition, grow current client impact beyond its current state, and expand sales channels to reach new clients.

StoryBolt has recently closed $1M in a seed round through Granicus Group, CareSource Diversity & Social Impact Investment Fund, Elevate Ventures’ Indiana Angel Network Fund, Chicago Early Growth Ventures, Pax Angels, SunStone Management, and other angel investors.. 

3. Why?

At StoryBolt, we believe that every person working at an organization should feel as comfortable and accepted as if they were the CEO. 

Companies in the U.S. spend $8 billion on DEI training, yet 40 percent of workers feel isolated at work because they miss the mark on the importance of inclusion and belonging. While the need for DEI in the workplace isn’t new, 2020 brought underlying racial and cultural tensions to the forefront of our nation’s dialogue like never before. Many workers found themselves navigating hot-button topics like race, privilege, and bias with coworkers, often sparking HR nightmares. But corporate workplaces are designed to be efficient and professional — not sounding boards for “woke” ideas and political statements. This silencing of self and desire for conformity (for the sake of a company’s bottom line) allows toxicity and implicit biases to flourish. 

StoryBolt exists to make inclusion in the workplace not only achievable, but profitable. When you create an inclusive workplace, you are able to maximize the potential of your workforce.

4. How?

At StoryBolt, we are on a mission to increase inclusivity and empathy in the global workforce by sharing real-life success stories in dealing with DEI issues. Our proprietary Mpathi™ active learning methodology uses compelling narratives through documentary film and interactive conversations to spark empathy in employees and leadership around timely issues of bias, which helps to create a more compassionate, inclusive, and non-hostile space to work.

We rigorously measure changes in empathy both qualitatively and quantitatively: from facial recognition software, to internal surveys, to virtual engagement tools. Our approach and methods work just as well virtually as in-person. 

5. Company influences?

At StoryBolt, we have always been fascinated by the TED model: how speakers use the narrative arc of relatable stories to explain sophisticated scientific and social issues. We work in much the same way. By bringing thousands of international stories and storytellers into the workplace, we can help employees empathize and understand multilayered identities and challenges over singular narratives. That is why we believe our series of sessions help to spark empathy and inspire fundamental attitude changes in the workplace.

6. Personal influences?

In continuing with the TED theme, one of our co-founder’s (Nassim) favorite influential figures is Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche. Her TED talk on the Danger of a Single Story highlighted the importance of access to MANY stories and the voices of the storytellers. She beautifully explains that, “if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding.” This viewpoint perfectly exemplifies StoryBolt’s ethos and mission to bring inclusivity to the modern workplace.

7. Where do you see the business in 3-5 years?

The pandemic opened the floodgate for conversations about hybrid workplace structures and alternative leadership methods. Additionally, workforces are becoming more diverse by race, age, sex, and geography. We expect these trends to continue at a much more rapid pace than in the past, leaving management teams eager to increase efficiency and employee retention. StoryBolt offers a novel, engaging approach that will help redesign corporate culture from the inside-out. We expect our clients at top Fortune 500 companies to set the gold standard for DEI training: where they lead, others will follow. Within the next 3 to 5 years, we envision StoryBolt as the fundamental inclusion training and belonging solution for North American corporations, with global expansion plans to other countries and industry verticals.

Best Tips That StoryBolt Lives By:

  • Having a diverse and inclusive workforce can help your company in terms of creativity and innovation. When each team member’s distinctive background and experience is celebrated and encouraged, employees are more likely to voice their unique perspective.
  • “Make it your company’s priority to take action to close any gaps so that all employees feel like they belong and are supported to thrive.”

Job Opportunities at StoryBolt:

Lead Software Engineer and Architect:

Successful candidates will have several of the following:

● 4+ years of full time professional development experience

● Frontend experience in at least one component based framework (React, Vue, Angular, etc)

● Backend experience in at least one common MVC framework (Django, Rails, Express, etc)

● Cloud experience with at least one of AWS, Azure or GCP

● Knowledge of product design and development

● Understanding of DevOps and Cloud Operations

● Experience with project tracking & project management software such as JIRA, Trello, Asana

● The ability to balance time to market with maintainability

● Excellent communication skills

● Willingness and ability to learn


  • Bachelor’s degree in Software Engineering, Computer Science or equivalent experience

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