Remote learning and training have become a large priority this year for organizations looking to keep employees engaged and up to date on work practices at a time when many of them are not working in an office — and, in the case of those who have joined in 2020, may have never met any of their work colleagues in person, ever. Today one of the startups that’s built a new, more user-friendly approach to creating and provisioning those learning materials is announcing some funding as it experiences a boost in its growth.
WorkRamp, which has built a platform that helps organizations build their own training materials, and then distribute them both to their workforce and to partners, has raised $17 million, a Series B round of funding that’s being led by OMERS Ventures, with Bow Capital also participating.
Its big pitch is that it has built the tools to make it easy for companies to build their own training and learning materials, incorporating tests, videos, slide shows and more, and by making it easier for companies to build these themselves, the materials themselves become more engaging and less stiff.
“We’re disrupting the legacy LMS [learning management system] providers, the Cornerstones of the world, with our bite-size training platform,” said CEO and founder Ted Blosser in an interview. “We want to do what Peloton did for the exercise market, but with corporate training. We are aiming for a consumer-grade experience.”
The company, originally incubated in Y Combinator, has now raised $27 million.
The funding comes on the back of strong growth for WorkRamp. Blosser said that it now has around 250 customers, with 1 million courses collectively created on its platform. That list includes fast-growing tech companies like Zoom, Box, Reddit and Intercom, as well as Disney, GlobalData and PayPal. As it continues to expand, it will be interesting to see how and if it can also snag more legacy, late adopters who are not as focused on tech in their own DNA.
WorkRamp estimates that there is some $20 billion spent annually by organizations on corporate training. Unsurprisingly, that has meant the proliferation of a number of companies building tools to address that market.
Just Google WorkRamp and you’re likely to encounter a number of its competitors who have bought its name as a keyword to snag a little more attention. There are both big and small players in the space, including Leapsome, Capterra, Lessonly, LearnUpon (which itself recently raised a big round), SuccessFactors and TalentLMS.
The interesting thing about what WorkRamp has built is that it plays on the idea of the “creator,” which really has been a huge development in our digital world. YouTube may have kicked things off with the concept of “user-generated content.” but today we have TikTok, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter and so many more platforms — not to mention smartphones themselves, with their easy facilities to shoot videos and photos of others, or of yourself, and then share with others — which have made the idea of building your own work, and looking at that of others, extremely accessible.
That has effectively laid the groundwork for a new way of conceiving of even more prosaic things, like corporate training. (Can there really be anything more comedically prosaic than that?) Other startups like Kahoot have also played on this idea, by making it easy for enterprises to build their own games to help train their staff.
This is what WorkRamp has aimed to tap into with its own take on the learning market, to help its customers eschew the idea of hiring outside production companies to make training materials, or expect WorkRamp to build those materials for them: Instead, the people who are going to use the training now have the control.
“I think it’s critical to be able to build your own customer education,” Blosser said. “That’s a big trend for clients that want both to rapidly onboard people but also reduce costs.”
The company’s platform includes user-friendly drag-and-drop functionality, which also lets people build slide shows, flip cards and questions that viewers can answer. The plan is to bring on more “Accenture” style consultants, Blosser said, for bigger customers who may not be as tech savvy to help them take better advantage of the tools. It also integrates with third-party packages like Salesforce.com, Workday and Zoom both to build out training as well as distribute it.
“Since 2000, we have seen three major technology shifts in the enterprise: the transition from on-premise to SaaS, the growth of mobile, and the most recent – sweeping digital transformation across almost every part of every business,” said Eugene Lee of OMERS Ventures, in a statement. “The pandemic has forced adoption of a digital-first approach towards customers and employees across virtually all industries. WorkRamp’s platform is foundational to empowering both of these important audiences today and in the future. We are bullish on the massive opportunity in front of the company and are excited to get involved.” Lee is joining the board with this round.