So-called ‘professional learning’ has come a long way since the days of the densest of textbooks. It eventually gravitated towards online courses and we’ve seen businesses arise to take enormous advantage of this trend. Some figures suggest that north of $500B is spent on improving employees globally (this covers books, video, Twitter, blogs, you name it). Products like Pluralsight (which has raised over $130M in the last 15 months) and Lynda.com (which was acquired by LinkedIn for $1.5B earlier this year) have achieved plausible traction, but they have been focused on the desktop. It’s becoming clear that mobile is going to be the way forward for a lot of educational products.
At the same time, the enormous growth in the desire for technology means there is an ongoing skills gap which isn’t being met any time soon. There are no regular-use streamlined products to get better at MySQL and Excel, for instance.
It’s all very well to point potential engineers at dense textbooks, but there are issues about how that scales. And all current ‘lightweight’ solutions are mostly focused on beginners, such as Codecademy. So there’s a clear gap in the market.
The opportunity therefore is to create a product which could be used daily (in other words, on mobile) and, ideally, has network effects so that it can scale.
So today a new startup comes out of stealth to address this market.
Enki will focus on enabling technologists to learn continuously via the means of ‘snackable’ mobile learning, which enables software developers to stay fresh in topics that are useful for them at work.
The London-based startup has behind it cofounders Kirill Makharinsky (formerly of Slide Quid, Ostrovok) and Bruno Marnette (formerly of Winton Capital, Palantir Technologies).
They have blogged about what they are doing here and more fully here. It’s also on ProductHunt here.
It’s also raised an undisclosed amount of funding from individuals and institutions including John Earner, Errol Damelin, Roger Dickey, Suranga Chandratillake, Learn Capital, Dave Hersh, Andy McLoughlin, Tracy Doree and Leila Rastegar. The precise amount invested is not known, but Kirill says “we have runway for a couple years with a team of 8.”
Inspired by Duolingo and Lumosity, Enki creates a 5-minute “workout” for software developers to learn important concepts in their spare time.
The alternatives would be reading a book or something researching online. Assuming they perfect this approach, Enki’s model could end up being applicable to more than just software development
Users tell the app what they want to get better at, choose one of the daily “workouts”, then they go through the content, give feedback on what was useful or otherwise, and do it for 5 minutes a day. There are more links to follow. Compared to free reading options this is structured, personalized content.
So far they’ve tested the product with 250 software developers, and claim that 70% come back regularly (on average every other day).
Related companies might include Pluralsight, Lynda.com, Codecademy, Treehouse, Udacity and Khan Academy. But few are playing in this ‘snackable’ content space.
The startup plans to make money by creating a premium, paid version of the product which companies will pay for. Given that there are approximately 10M professional developers, there could be $2-5B in potential revenues.