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Interviews with interesting local tech companies.

Philadelphia-based ScreenPlay isn’t a traditional IT trainer. Rather than making students conform to a class lesson, the company provides specialized training to each client in their own home or workplace. Co-owner Maria Criniti talked about the company.

How and why did ScreenPlay get started?

About seven years ago my business partner and I were employed by the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania, in the MIS Department. One of the many hats we wore at that time was training coordinators. We were creating course materials and designing training programs for the Courts’ computer users.

The program was so well received that we decided to take our talents to market. It was at lunch one afternoon while my partner and I were reflecting on the success of the Courts program, that we first talked about starting our own company and hence, ScreenPlay was born.

What got you personally interested in doing this work?

I think the fact that because my partner and I were of the generation that grew up without computers, we experienced firsthand the angst that sometimes comes with having to integrate technology into our lives. Kids today are using computers in the very early grades. That was not the case with adults of our generation. It was all very new and sometimes frightening. We were on a mission to make that transition a smooth one for others.

Why do you feel there’s a need for what you provide?

That is a very easy question to answer. Change is the only constant in this business and there will ALWAYS be a need for training. Employees are most productive when they are well trained and that translates into profits.

What makes ScreenPlay unique?

We have been working with the disabled community for a few years now, which is very gratifying for us. We are very proud of that. In addition, we are a Christian-owned business as well as a women-owned business.

What kind of challenges does ScreenPlay face?

Our biggest challenge, as I see it, is to live up to our motto of “customized” training and consulting. If the service does not meet the need, everyone is wasting time and money. If the service is truly “customized” then our clients have a program that is designed specifically for their individual needs. Every job we do is unique because there are different dynamics at work in each client’s business.

For example, we have a children’s after-school program that we run for inner-city children. That project took a lot of planning and we had to design a program unlike any other we offered previously. But the challenge of putting it altogether was pure enjoyment.

Where do you want to build the company from here?

One of the things that I would like to see happen for our clients is to avail themselves of some of the grant money that is out there for technology training. ScreenPlay has partnered in the past with the State of Pennsylvania in identifying companies that are eligible for technology training dollars. It is an underutilized resource and one that is especially beneficial to small businesses who may not be able to budget for technology training.

Many businesses are totally unaware of the assistance that is available to them. In addition, we have spent the last year solidifying relationships with companies that offer other kinds of training, such as lean manufacturing and soft skills training, so that we can offer a more comprehensive training package for our clients. We have always been a company with “broad horizons.” We go wherever our clients’ needs take us.

What do you like best about what you do?

Hands down, what we like best here at ScreenPlay is the fact that our business is not really about technology or training, it’s about people. Whether we are working with the disabled community or small businesses or large corporations, the common denominator is that we are working with people.

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