The corona crisis has given tremendous momentum to the development of start-ups focusing on online education and homeworking. This week Innovation Origins will therefore pay extra attention to start-ups in this edtech sector.
In 2018, the three brothers Rick, Paul, and Joost Kuijf from Amersfoort in The Netherlands founded their company Learned.io, which provides a platform for companies to continuously coach and assess their employees. Employees are able to develop their skills and personal conduct while their managers can offer them feedback at any time.
What motivated you to start Learned.io and what problems did this resolve?
“We started this company as brothers and all three of us felt frustrated by the fact that our previous employers dealt with employee development in a rather traditional way. Current performance review processes hardly shed any light on opportunities for advancement. Nor doe they provide managers with a framework to nurture the development of their employees on a day-to-day basis. Instead, the tools in place are inadequate because they don’t help companies to modernize their performance review cycle. Nor do they tailor educational resources such as training to each job or to the stage of an individual’s career and ambitions.”
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Are you offering these kinds of tools?
“The Learned Talent Management platform helps organizations maintain the levels of productivity and engagement of their employees. Wherever they happen to be. The ‘new way of working,’ which is now more widespread – in other words working remotely – calls for a different approach to talent management. We help organizations revamp and digitalize their talent management to keep a grip on their employees.”
How does the platform work?
“We have innovated traditional performance review processes by mapping out employees’ skillsets. In doing so, we match these skillsets with in-house career opportunities in order to encourage in-house career mobility. Skillset gaps are bridged by tailor-made suggestions for training either within the company or externally. We also help managers hold constructive conversations with employees about their performance, development, and career opportunities. That makes employees more productive and engaged.”
What was the biggest obstacle that you had to overcome?
“We had to translate our problems and market-related requirements into a software solution. Another factor that complicated this was that all three of us are not really IT specialists. So in order to do this, we had to attract investors, put together a tech team and make a thorough inventory of clients’ needs. We then applied all of that to the platform. It was a dynamic, stressful but all in all a very enjoyable process.”
What definitely had to be a part of the platform?
“We strongly believe in the development of personal skills. These vary a lot for a commercial position compared to an IT role. They must line up with each job description. Therefore, this needed to be clearly defined.”
What has been the biggest breakthrough so far?
“Being able to raise funding during two rounds as well as sign a contract with the very first two corporations, Perry Sport and Young Capital. The fact that we now have these companies as our clients is a tremendous step forward.”
What can we expect from Learned.io over the coming year?
“Everything is up in the air for now because of the corona crisis. If we still have to stay inside for another month, we can go back to the drawing board and revise the business plan. Everything will look different in that case. In order to help companies emerge stronger from this difficult time, we have come up with a 72-hour challenge in collaboration with Compagnon, an HR service provider. As such, we offer companies the opportunity to share their HR and talent management issues with us. We can then get back to them within 72 hours with free advice as well as propose solutions to their problems.”
Where do you want to be within 5 years with Learned.io? What is your ultimate goal?
“By then we hope to be operating internationally. We went to the CES tech fair in Las Vegas last January. We made several business contacts there. Although ongoing talks with various companies have been put on hold for now due to the corona crisis. The ultimate goal is to establish an international presence and we want to open offices in the United States, the UK and other countries.”
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