APRIL 21, 2016 BY KRISTYN BACK , Hypepotamus
You may offer training to your employees, but chances are, they’re yawning through modules and getting back to their daily grind with little to no change in their behaviors. Like it or not, only about 10% of what is taught in company trainings are actually applied on the job.
As the Chief Learning Officer for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, this was an issue Larry Mohl grappled with all the time. Then, year’s later, he met Terry Barber, who was hoping to provide companies with scalable content that could deliver on an employee’s ability to actually apply what they’ve learned.
We recently spoke with the co-founders to find out how their frustrations fueled their creativity to build eLearning platform, Jubi, and how they’re disrupting the $164 billion learning market.
How did you come up with the idea for Jubi? Why did you decide to dive into a learning platform that goes above and beyond just training and regurgitating information?
TB: Jubi is a wonderful convergence of my background and Larry’s. For years, I was a professional speaker, training person, and content curator. I sold that knowledge to companies for leadership training and employee engagement primarily built around the science of inspiration.
And my question was always twofold:
1) How can I scale this because I’m getting old (laughing). We’re probably amongst the oldest entrepreneurs that you’ll interview, I didn’t want to travel anymore, and it wasn’t a very good business model to always be dependent on putting somebody’s butt in a chair and charging them. I wanted to scale!
And 2), it would be a heck of a lot easier for someone who was selling content like I was, if I could walk into a buyer’s office and show them empirical data about the impact on the things that were happening as a result of their employees actually trying and practicing by using my content…but that didn’t happen either.
Those were the two real challenges from my perspective. And then when I met Larry, he just so happened to have the background of someone who bought the stuff I was selling, so we got together.
As the other side of this business, what drove you to join Terry and build Jubi?
LM: I was the Chief Learning Officer of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta as the head of Learning and Development for about 10 years and before that I held a similar role at American Express, as well as Motorolla. I actually started my career in computer engineering and my frustration in that role was to take the company strategy and figure out how to get people the skills they needed – and in a lot of ways improve performance to meet that strategy. The biggest pain point over the years has been that there are so many ways to push out content to people and this idea of learning came about because people need to figure out how to scale training to a broader population.
For example, at American Express, I had to take care of 120,000 people. How was I going to get content out to them? So this whole solution came to the market where you could do this much cheaper, but there’s one huge problem with the whole thing and that is you can get training, but you can’t actually show anyone is doing anything any differently on their job by what they’re reading and learning.
Imagine now that you’re having this meeting with the CEO of American Express and he says, ‘We pushed all this content on leadership development to our employees, what is the result of all that?’ And you have to say, ‘Well, I’ve done some surveys and I think people are doing these two behaviors but I really can’t tell you for sure.’ That’s not a good place to be in, but this is the current state of the industry. It turns out that less than about 10% of everything that’s learned in corporations is actually applied on the job. This is a $164 billion dollar industry [that is banking on a tiny percentage growth in information that is actually being absorbed and applied]. So there was this huge opportunity for Jubi.
When I met Terry, he had all this great content and so we decided to partner up. And we said, ‘Okay, if we are going to do this, how can we scale this great content and do it in a way that has high impact and show real results?’ We knew we needed to build a platform to do it and that’s where Jubi was born.
Who is the target audience for Jubi?
LM: Primarily it’s the corporate market, so B2B, but with a very consumer feel. People are really demanding that content has more of a consumer feel to it and that’s what Jubi does.
Do you have any major competitors out there or is this uncharted territory?
LM: It’s a little bit uncharted, but everyone in the industry has been talking about this type of learning for 20 years quite frankly. I’m sure there is somebody out there, but our whole architecture called Learn-Do-Inspire is based on a behavioral change architecture. We haven’t seen anybody else going all in on this type of framework like we have.
TB: To go a little bit deeper, the overarching sector we fall into is HR technology. The subset to that is about employee performance and productivity. So, there are a lot of tools out there trying to drive that idea in a different sort of way. I’ve seen tools that really focus on culture development and some on brand activation, but being able to actually tie what you’ve got to learn to performance with the driving metric of success being performance – that’s unique. It’s not just about passing a test.
I know you guys signed a deal with Kennesaw State. How did that all come to fruition?
LM: Based on a lot of our relationships over the years. Kennesaw was looking for a way to take the content on programs they developed and deliver it in a workshop format, but scale to a larger audience at a price point companies can afford – things like account management skills, business innovation, and leadership skills.
Kennesaw State has a wonderful body of professors and content that have science and content development but what they were looking for was, ‘How do I deliver this in a way that I can deliver in what’s called KSU’s vernacular – a digital badge. That instead of going and getting a certification, you can do the entire experience online. Demonstrate certain behaviors and get a digital badge that certifies a certain demonstration of competencies. Then, you can actually build a digital portfolio you can show on your LinkedIn page. It’s a lot about executive development and continuing education. Kennesaw saw Jubi and said, ‘This is the platform that can actually be the home for our digital badges.’
Now employers can say with confidence, ‘I trust that this digital badge isn’t just that a person who could pass some sort of a test. This is proof they can actually demonstrate skills.’
TB: And it gives you bragging rights socially too. You can socialize what you learned to your network and it actually means something.
LM: We have an integration we are working on right now too where once you get your digital badge, you click a button and it puts the badge on your Linkedin profile and lets your friends know about it.
What do you think the market impact is with this type of learning platform?
LM: We feel like a lot of early stage companies. We are at a point right now where our distribution model works, the platform works, customers on the platform are saying good things and so now we are positioning ourselves to scale. We feel like we can really disrupt the market. Our vision is to construct this market in a way that really starts to align with how people in this more modern world of business want to learn and improve.
It’s not like we’re trying to make them do something they don’t want to naturally do. Jubi delivers content in really small micro-chunks where you’re only on it for 10 to 15 minutes at a time. And it’s really fun and engaging. Plus you’ve got a whole community of people around you who are inspiring and holding you accountable. It’s stuff we all want to do, but it’s just a very different way of doing it. So we really feel like we can disrupt this model as well as the business model for how e-learning works.
Jubi can say, not only did they pass the test, but they demonstrated the characteristics that are part of their certification and take their learning to a new level.
How has the Atlanta startup community helped you succeed, and are there any areas you hope the community can build on?
TB: In terms of the environment in Atlanta itself, it’s pretty exciting. There are lots of new things and places like ATV that help spur the environment all the more. I think there is an appetite for startups and it creates an entire ecosystem that we’ve been able to benefit from. At the same time, the particular space we are in is not necessarily a space Atlanta is familiar with, so when you talk to the investment community in particular, they typically like to invest in things they have experience in or areas they’ve tried before, so that’s probably been our one main challenge. It is kind of a unique arena, not to the nation at large, but in particular to Atlanta when it comes to employee performance and corporate productivity.
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