Back in 2015 we were intrigued by the launch of a brand new take on online learning. It was driven by mobile and also gamed users into learning. That was the idea behind SmartUp.io, a mobile app which had a points-based game which would incentivize learning. Its early implementation was clunky to say the least, and content-lite. But that hasnt held them back.
Its now raised $5.5 million in a round led by Notion Capital and by Hong Leong Group (the biggest financial group in SE Asia). Investors also include: Michael Birch (founder of Bebo), Luke Johnson, Barry Smith (Skyscanner), Alex Asseily (Jawbone), Ed Wray (betfair) and Simon Patterson (Silverlake).
Co-founder Frank Meehan told me: Corporates who came to us and said they liked the micro-learning format we created but asked if they could put their own content in it. So we just launched our new peer-to-peer micro-learning platform where anyone can start a community, and create channels of interactive content text/quizzes/video/polls etc. We have our own startup and innovator content communities which are open and free, while corporates can create private communities. You can download the new app here. If you then choose Browse Communities you can see some of their clients. Choose Launch to see the open community for startups and how it works.
Corporates use it to create training, product information, on-boarding new employees, sales material, compliance and more. SmartUp has also got a range of businesses interested in using the platform to create an external academy. These can then be used for training a wider audience on a product, moving beyond blogs and downloaded PDFs to what SmartUp calls a micro-learning format where the corporates get feedback from customers on the product material. The fund-raise comes as the online learning space seems to be getting hot again with the likes of Lesson.ly, Grovo and EdCast attracting attention. Lesson.ly is a clever training system which employs micro-learning techniques; and Grovo is another micro-learning system, again focuses on the ability for corporates to create their own content.
Dropbox Paper is also a potential future competitor, and if they added an education platform around that product they would definitely compete. I would expect them to be thinking about it says Meehan.
The whole trend is driven by the fact that corporates are rapidly reducing face-to-face training and moving to digital platforms. They also want micro-learning not massive PowerPoint-style education. Its intuitively easier to digest, and lends itself to younger recruits used to this kind of snackable content.
Perhaps in SmartUps favour is also the fact that it can attract quality content around how to create a startup or be entrepreneurial which it gets via its links with Founders Forum, an investor. Other platforms tend not to focus on this area.