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Pete Coors and AJ Richichi

Year of Graduation: 
1965 and 2013
Exeter alums AJ Richichi and Pete Coors

“Going to Exeter was the best decision I ever made because of people like Pete who pushed me to really achieve.”

What do a millennial tech entrepreneur and baby boomer scion of an international brewing company have in common? For AJ Richichi ’13 and Pete Coors ’65, it’s more than an Exeter connection: it’s a shared passion for business, social responsibility and disruptive innovation. Richichi’s startup, SENTIO, hits all three touch points, which is why Coors, vice chairman of the board of Molson Coors Brewing, became one of its first backers.

Richichi developed the technology behind his company as an upper living in Dutch House. Searching for a way to assist a family member, he created ChronicleMe, a confidential social media platform that identified the common traits among people suffering from addiction, abuse and PTSD, and then provided resources to help them. Richichi believed ChronicleMe could change lives, but he needed an investor to get the idea off the ground. His opportunity came during a gap year working on Capitol Hill for Kelly Ayotte, a Republican senator from New Hampshire. Perusing a guest list to an event sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute, Richichi discovered that Coors, one of the attendees, was also an Exeter alumnus. He emailed him, outlining his concept and asking for his support. “I was intrigued,” Coors remembers. “I liked the idea of using social media to help people, but I particularly liked the process AJ designed to protect identities.”

ChronicleMe attracted thousands of users, but the social network wasn’t generating revenue fast enough to scale. Richichi reasoned that the technology could be applied to other industries with faster paths to profit, such as athletics. As a former lacrosse and soccer player, he saw it as a way for collegiate and professional sports teams to recruit athletes based on their personality traits and core values. He renamed the company SENTIO and found that the teams he partnered with doubled their winning percentages over two years. With solid proof-of-concept statistics, the company secured additional financing and, in 2017, expanded to other business sectors.

Using artificial intelligence and psycholinguistics (the study of how our brains process language and speech), SENTIO now helps companies make more-effective, less-biased hiring decisions. Job applicants complete a short personality assessment online, then data from the questionnaire is compiled to create a psychological profile of the applicant that organizations match to a “success profile” — an aggregate mental makeup of their top performers. Companies, including financial firms, Fortune 1000 tech outfits and fast-food restaurants, have leveraged it to hire employees at all levels. “I wanted to build something that was meaningful to people,” Richichi says. “Our mission is to make world-class personality assessments available to every company in the U.S.”

Richichi and Coors have never met in person — “I encouraged AJ to use the money he would’ve spent traveling to meet me and put it back into the business,” Coors says — but they enjoy a mutually rewarding mentor-mentee relationship. “Going to Exeter was the best decision I ever made because of people like Pete who pushed me to really achieve,” Richichi says. Coors takes that one step further: “What impresses me about AJ is that, through hard work, ingenuity, and a lot of grit, he’s both helping people and building a business. That’s important. It’s why I invested in his company.”

Editor's note: This article first appeared in the summer 2019 issue of The Exeter Bulletin.