Exclusive Conversation:Ravi Pratap Singh, Co-Founder-Learnnovators
In 2003, Ravi Pratap Singh co-founded C2 Workshop, which was re-branded as Learnnovators in 2013 and is headquartered at Chennai (India). In the past two decades, Ravi has built, managed and assisted ‘learning’ businesses in nearly 40 countries across 5 continents. His experience spans sales, marketing, strategy, management, operations, brand building and channel development. Learnnovators specializes in the design and development of innovative and effective e-learning solutions. Since its inception, Learnnovators has successfully delivered and deployed customized learning content for a wide spectrum of domains including Adverstising, Automotive, Banking, Defence, Engineering, Healthcare, Higher Education, Hospitality, HR Services, IT / ITES, Insurance, K-12 Education, Manufacturing, Nuclear Energy, Oil & Gas, Retail, Safety, Soft Skills and Telecom.
1) What was the idea behind starting Learnnovators?
I had been working in the learning/training business for about a dozen years when I got bitten by the entrepreneurial bug. So in 2003, I started C2 Workshop along with another colleague, Srividya Kumar. In June 2013, we rebranded C2 Workshop as Learnnovators. When we began our entrepreneurial journey, e-learning was a new (infact, almost unknown) concept in India and there weren’t too many players in the market. But Vidya and I were convinced that e-learning was the future of learning. This belief is what prompted us to step out and start on our own.
2) Please brief us about your business model?
Learnnovators, as the name suggests, is all about learning and innovation. We are in the business of helping people learn.
Let’s say an organization wants to train 150 of their customer-facing staff to handle irate customers. We study the scene, speak to the staff, understand the gaps in skill and comprehension, and come up with one or more training courses that can help improve their performance in this area. Such training courses can mostly be taken up online by staff at their own pace and time, thereby saving the organization the trouble and costs of arranging face-to-face training sessions.
This is just one example. The same, or similar, solutions can be applied to several different performance related problems. Depending on the problem and the context, we come up with innovative solutions to help improve learning and performance.
3) Tell us about your core team.
The founding team comprises of Srividya Kumar and me. Vidya comes with over a decade and a half of experience in the e-learning industry, having worked her way up from being an Instructional designer to project manager and onto an entrepreneur. She handles development and delivery at Learnnovators, while I handle business development and HR.
We have a team of instructional designers, graphic designers, programmers, QC specialists and project managers handling project and client requirements on a day-to-day basis. We, at Learnnovators, believe that every single individual on our team plays a crucial role in adding value to our stakeholders, and is therefore a part of the ‘core’ team!
4) How did Learnnovators get its tipping point?
Our tipping point came within one year of our operations when we bagged a large deal from an American client to develop 900 hours of learning. The project was overwhelming, not only in terms of the volume of work, but also in terms of skills required to execute it. But our team did a brilliant job, and the project was a humongous success.
5) Tell us about your three most successful user acquisition methodology?
Our most successful user acquisition mode has been through client referrals. Which means that our clients have been our best salespeople. And I say this with immense pride and gratitude. You can check out some of our client testimonials at http://learnnovators.com/testimonials/
Our second most successful business acquisition mode has been through social media marketing. We are very active on social media platforms such as YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.
We also have our own LinkedIn group which is of, and for, learning professionals who are passionate about bringing innovation to learning. The group’s objective is to help members engage in stimulating discussions around this topic. Activities of the group include exchanging of thoughts, ideas, experiences, news, tools, tips, trends, case studies, strategies, processes, best practices, etc. that would help the learning community create amazing learning experiences.
Also, we recently launched our own newspaper called ‘Learnobytes’ – it’s a weekly online newspaper that carries the best e-learning news from across the world. The newspaper’s objective is to help readers be up-to-date on the most recent news from the world of Learning and Development (L&D). ‘Learnobytes’ is available at http://learnobytes.learnnovators.com/. And our blog is one of the most popular e-learning blogs in the world. Infact, we recently launched a ‘Guest Blog’, where we have even our competitors contributing articles on our site.
As an industry thought leader, we believe it is our responsibility to build a learning community which can share knowledge, ideas and experiences with each other. This indirectly helps in business acquisition not only for us, but also for others involved in the community.
6) Tell us about your three major challenges and how did you overcome them?
We are in the knowledge business; so people are our most valuable assets. One of our biggest challenges is to find people – not just people with the needed skills, but those with the right attitude – to do great work, to look for new things to learn every day, and to constantly push the bar higher. We take a lot of time to hire people. It is a painstaking process, but one that pays off in the long run. We have one of the lowest attrition rates in the industry.
The developed world looks towards us in India to provide low price work. On the other hand, input costs have climbed way up the ladder. So the challenge is to maintain a balance, of costs on one end and the fee we charge on the other. We address this by providing better value, and by being thought partners to our clients. Again, most of our clients have stayed with us over several years.
7) Who are your competitors and what is your USP to tackle them?
Competition in our case is very wide-ranging. On one side of the spectrum are multi-national players who are doing the same thing as us with a lot more people and larger infrastructure, while on the other end are the much smaller companies. We are somewhere in between.
The big companies are the ones we tend to consider as competition. We compete with them on the level and quality of work we do, the depth of understanding of our client’s problems and the ability to come up with solutions to address them.
8) Do you plan to get investments? If yes, then what will be your strategy?
We are small by design. And we want to stay small and agile so we can respond quickly to the needs of the market and our clients. So we can keep learning and innovating. So we still look forward to coming to work in the morning, and go back home in the evening with a sense of happiness and satisfaction, of having done meaningful work and having made a difference to people’s lives in our own small way.
As for funding, we are not actively looking for investments. Though capital would help us move to the next level, cash is not the only thing we are interested in. What we need is a strategic partner (in the investor) who shares our vision to build and sustain a great company with the right culture and values, and emphasizes on learning and innovation, while also adding value and generating profits for all stakeholders.
9) What is your future plan?
Our vision is to be the most innovative learning solutions provider in the world within the next couple of years. On the face of it, this may sound like empty rhetoric, but we are absolutely convinced that we have the skills, focus and hunger to achieve this goal.
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