Re-skilling the skilled

Re-skilling the skilled

Simplilearn.com offers an online-classroom learning model to help professionals upgrade their skills without taking time off from work

S. MEERA

KRISHNA KUMAR, FOUNDER-CEO, SIMPLILEARN.COM

Krishna Kumar, founder-CEO of Simplilearn.com, started his career with Infosys as a software engineer. But as his entrepreneurial spirit urged him to venture out on his own, he started Tech Unified, which provided software solutions for mobile banking, voice banking and telecom self-care till it was acquired by a listed company in February 2007.

In 2009, Krishna started a training blog and in a span of nine months, trained 3,000 people in over a 100 countries. “I realised the potential of going commercial,” he explains and thus, using the proceeds from the sale of his previous company as seed capital, he established Simplilearn.com, aimed to help professionals re-skill themselves.

He found his initial set of customers as well as curriculum providers on LinkedIn. “Once the user likes us, they mention it on forums like LinkedIn and that’s how further awareness gets created,” he says on how the professional network helped him spread the word. One of the key learnings from his previous venture was to build a strong team as he realised that a company is as good as its people.

Since online education is a new industry, finding experienced people in building content, experienced product and technology professionals and also marketing professionals is crucial

The company started with two members in the year 2010, crossing over 500 members by the end of 2013. “Since online education is a new industry, finding experienced people in content building, technology professionals and also marketing professionals is crucial,” he points out.

Simple yet efficient

Simplilearn.com offers a blended training model (classroom +online) in over 50 certification courses ranging from project management, IT services management, IT security management, quality management, financial management and technology certification.

It recently received US$ 10 million in Series-B funding from Bengaluru-based Helion Ventures and Kalaari Capital and has established study centres across the globe, training aspirants across 150 countries, including those from the world’s leading Fortune 500 companies. At present, the venture conducts over 300 classroom trainings, per month. Most of the courses offered by it are accredited by global regulatory bodies such as PMI, Exin, APMG, EC Council and more.

Simplilearn.com’s training model combines an optimum mix of 2-5 days certified instructor led classroom training and a learning management system-based secure online learning and training with simulation tests, audio-video content and video tutorials to maximise success in achieving the certification. It develops in-house content for all the courses except for third party courses such as Microsoft, Cisco, etc), which is used by all their trainers worldwide, which ensures uniform delivery irrespective of the trainer. The venture has close to 50 people to develop the courseware which is then verified by subject matter experts who at times, train the trainers.

“Pedagogy for online education is unique and requires using techniques that might not be employed in the traditional classroom environment. The instructional design must be tailored so as to build a community of learners through collaboration, discussion and reflection,” explains Krishna Kumar.

Simplilearn.com has ensured that the content is interesting enough and beneficial for the aspirants to retain their interest. The venture offers trainings around professional certification courses that are globally acclaimed and has Indian and international students who have to undergo exams to acquire the certificate. Feedback is collected from the participants across the globe which is used to further improve training.

Almost all of the large players in training have diverse training offerings with a significant mix of their own proprietary courses and cater largely to the corporate segment of the market. Simplilearn, however, has positioned its training offerings specifically around certifications and concentrates on the individual training needs, which is a large space dominated mostly by smaller regional players.

Unlike these, Simplilearn training is not centred around ‘star-trainers’, which enables it to offer seamless quality of instruction through independent trainers in combination with its online and interactive courseware offered through its e-learning module and live webinars.

In addition to its courses, Simplilearn.com also provides practice tests to check out the learning progress, case studies and exercises for group work and blogs to keep the students updated on their chosen area of expertise. It also provides 24/7 support to the learners for any kind of assistance that they might need.

Supported by technology

“There are three major ways in which technology is revolutionising training as we know it,” points out Krishna Kumar; it allows the use of smart graphics, animations and demos to make learning more engaging. It also allows high quality learning to be delivered between a trainer and a trainee who are geographically far apart. A person in a small town in Africa can access expert level training from a specialist in the U.S. and technology can facilitate this. “We use technology in this fashion through our Instructor Led Online Virtual courses,” he adds. Thirdly, technology also helps in peer-to-peer learning exchanges. Multiple people across the world can be learning the same content and technology can help them collaborate and co-learn. This is a very important part of conventional classroom training and technology helps the company recreate this even for people who are in distant geographies and want to learn more about a common subject.

A look at the future

The company has been able to grow its revenue over 400 per cent in the last 12 months. In terms of customers, it started with training 3,000 professionals and by the end of 2013, it has trained 1,00,000 professionals.

The company now plans to add new categories by developing courses around areas like digital marketing, product management, social media, big data, cloud etc. In terms of geography, the strategy is to delve further in growing markets like India, Australia and the Middle East while viewing possible opportunities in the U.S.

“Our vision is to establish ourselves as a destination site for working professionals when it comes to preparing for professional certification,” shares Krishna. The company has reason for this optimism. It is close to recording Rs. 100 crore in revenue this year and is looking at 50 per cent + CAGR in the next three to five years. With skill upgradation being a constant need of professionals to remain employable and head up in the corporate ladder, Simplilearn.com has reasons to believe it can realise its vision.


Snapshot

Simplilearn.com

Founder: Krishna Kumar

Investors: Series B, Helion Ventures and Kalaari Capital

Focus: Blended, online and classroom re-skilling of professionals


BLOG TO BUSINESS

Having sold his first venture, Tech Unified, Krishna Kumar started a blog for training professionals which he spun off as a venture, Simplilearn.com. In terms of customers, the company started with training 3,000 professionals in 2009 and by the end of 2013, it has trained 1,00,000 professionals from across the globe. Simplilearn.com offers a blended training model (classroom +online), in over 50 certification courses ranging from project management, IT services management, IT security management, quality management, financial management and technology certification. It recently received US$ 10 million in Series-B funding from Bengaluru-based Helion Ventures and Kalaari Capital and has established 300 study centres across 150 countries. Simplilearn.com is close to achieving Rs 100 crore in revenue this year and is looking at 50 per cent + CAGR in the next three to five years.

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