Exclusive Conversation: Krishna Kumar, Founder & CEO – Simplilearn.com
Krishna Kumar, Founder & CEO of Simplilearn.com and an engineering graduate from NIT Surathkal comes with 13 years experience in IT industry. He started his new venture Simplilearn.com in 2009, and escalated it to one of the largest players in online education globally. Krishna, started his career with Infosys as a software engineer, but soon his entrepreneurial spirit inspired him to start his own venture – Tech Unified. Krishna was the Co-founder & COO of TechUnified, which was acquired by a public listed company in February, 2007. Krishna is known for his entrepreneurial achievements with a positive track record of establishing new ventures in the field of IT and nurturing it to new heights.
In an exclusive interaction with SocialProma, Krishna talks about the objective of Simplilearn and way forward.
What was the idea behind starting Simplilearn?
I had started Simplilearn as a blog with an intention to share my knowledge on Project Management with those who are working in the same field and are looking for help to clear their PMP exam. Interestingly within a span of 9 months I had trained 3000 people in 100+ countries and that is when I thought of going commercial. The vision with which I started was to provide good service to working professionals. Working professionals generally are hard pressed for time, so we wanted to design an option of learning for them so that they can learn online, 24/7 and even on weekends. I have also noticed that many a times, training is as good as the trainer delivering the training, so I aimed to break this to ensure that everyone gets a good training irrespective of the trainer quality.
Please brief us about your business model?
Business: Our aim is to provide the best training to working professionals and prepare them towards achievement of their certification goal. Our blended training model (Classroom Online) makes it easy for professionals to prepare for various project management certification exams. We offer certification courses in Project Management, Agile and Scrum certification, IT Services Management, Big Data and Cloud computing, IT Security Management, Finance Management, Quality Management, SAP certification, CompTIA certification, Microsoft Certification, CISCO certification and Software Testing.
Approach: Our unique step-by-step, blended learning (classroom prep + online training) model combines an optimum mix of 2/3/4-day certified instructor-led classroom training and learning management system based on secure online learning & training; with simulation tests, audio-video content, and video tutorials to maximize success in achieving certification.
How did Simplilearn get its tipping point?
As mentioned earlier, I started Simplilearn as blog and within a span of 9 months I saw 3000 people from 100+ countries following my blog. I would say it was the tipping point for Simplilearn. It was only after that, I decided to go commercial and since then there has been no looking back.
What prompted investors to invest in Simplilearn?
When you have an attractive business plan in place and are confident about your ideas, getting investors is not a tough job. Moreover online education is still at its nascent stage and there is lot of scope of growth in this field, which I guess is enough to prompt investors.
Tell us about your three most successful user acquisition methodology?
We have been concentrating mainly on Online Marketing for user acquisition. Broadly speaking search, affiliate and social media engagements are tools used for user acquisition. We also do a lot of content creation and sharing in order to acquire customers.
Tell us about your three major challenges and how did you overcome them?
In the initial stage we had faced some challenges in the ability to create good quality online courses in a short time frame to increase our offering and maintain the consistency. But this was at the initial stage itself and now we do not see it as a challenge. Also with classroom delivery in 100s of cities across the globe without local employees has been a challenge. Apart from these two challenges hiring in any field has been a challenge. Getting the right set of people with the right attitude towards work has always been a challenge and continues to remain one.
Who are your competitors and what is your USP to tackle them?
Edusys and Knowledge Academy are our competitors on a global level; however, for almost every course we have local competitors in the local market. 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 small regional players. Simplilearn follows a global delivery model for providing training services which allows it to keep net cost per trainee significantly lower than current market leaders. As opposed to small regional players, Simplilearn training is not cantered 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.
How do you see online education evolving in India?
The current market size of the online education industry in India is around $20Bn and is set to grow to about $40Bn by 2017 as per Economic Times. Online Education also often referred to as e-learning comprises of all forms of educational technology, in the learning and teaching process. Every definition of online education has an essential component, the use of computing and telecommunication technology to deliver and receive course material.
Technology is seen to be making a significant positive impact on education. According to a Research Report prepared by Institute for the Transfer of Technology to Education; “Through the use of advanced computing and telecommunications technology, learning can also be qualitatively different. The process of learning in the classroom can become significantly richer as students have access to new and different types of information, can manipulate it on the computer through graphic displays or controlled experiments in ways never before possible, and can communicate their results and conclusions in a variety of media to their teacher, students in the next classroom, or students around the world.”
In another study conducted by IBIS Capital, a London-based investment bank, “The e-learning market is projected to grow by 23 percent between now and 2017, making it the fastest-growing market in education.” All the stats and the data prove Online Education to be an extremely growing industry, which definitely also adds to a lot of career scope.
What is your future plan?
We are working towards building simplilearn.com as learning destination for certification preparation for working professional. So in line with that plan, we would be adding a number of new courses to meet the demands of our user base. All our courses are available on mobile devices for easy accessibility.
We are also strengthening our presence in our key market, which is USA and India to provide better customer experience.
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