Please share with us the story of Simplilearn. How did you start ? What is your vision strategy ? Any key milestones?
Today, Simplilearn is a renowned name in the edtech industry and a global provider of digital skills training. It started as a blog in 2009 by NIT-K alumnus Krishna Kumar. As an online learning platform, the startup began with a project management certification program called PMP (Project Management Professional certification). During that time, professionals would make efforts to upskill by themselves. However, a few years later the trend of skilling seeped across sectors, with students and working professionals alike taking to skilling programs in subjects like IT management, business analysis, banking, data analytics, etc. It was during this time that Simplilearn transitioned into an edtech startup focused on the training and certification of working professionals. Simplilearn started helping professionals across the globe to realise their dream careers. Based in San Francisco and Bangalore, the company is the world’s largest professional certification company and has helped more than a million professionals and 1,000 companies across 150 countries get trained, acquire certifications, and reach their business and career goals.
The company raised US$ 28 million so far from Kalarai Capital, Helion Venture Partners, and Mayfield Fund.
Our Series A of US$ 3 million was in 2012, Series B (US$ 10 million) in 2013 and our last round of US$ 15 million was in 2015.
What are your key edtech products for organisations / teams?
All our programs are designed for individual learners as well as for organisations and largely cover tech-based subjects. For corporate skilling programs, based on the requirement of the organization, we also design customised learning programs. In recent times, we have seen a large demand for digital skilling programs, and new age technologies like data science, AI/ML, and cybersecurity.
Some of the master programs have industry as well as university partnerships, these programs are definitely creating a lot of buzz and interest amongst the learners. Our recent partnership with Caltech and Purdue university are in this league.
A few programs that have seen a sudden surge in demand are:
• Cloud Security Professional – saw an increase of 210 per cent (3X growth)
• Business/Data Analysts programs – saw an increase of 39 per cent
• Certified Information Systems Auditor which is part of the Cyber Security program – saw an increase of 69 per cent.
How do working professionals benefit from your courses?
Times have changed, so are the demands. With remote working and a surge in the application of new-age technologies, companies are today looking at hiring digitally skilled workforce. This brings us to the demand-supply gap, there is always a need for professionals with a specific skill set.
Coming to how learners and working professionals benefit from our courses, Simplilearn’s approach has a few unique aspects to it.
Blended approach: First, as opposed to pure self-learning training providers, we provide a blended, practical approach to learning a topic. Our learners are expected to pre-learn the concepts through online self paced videos, learn to apply those concepts in a real world scenario in our mentor led live class sessions and then practice these skills through industry grade projects. This ensures that the learners are getting a multi-model learning experience and are truly grasping the concepts deeply.
Flexibility: Simplilearn provides 24/7 learning assistance to ensure that our learners do not stop learning at any point for any reason. Additionally, the same class is available with multiple instructors at multiple times at any point of time. This allows learners to learn when they have time without any excuse.
Outcome centric: Our courses focus on how the learners can achieve their certification but also focus on imparting real-world applications through projects and case studies. This prepares them for the actual jobs.
In summary, Simplilearn’s “high engagement, outcome centric” approach is what sets us apart and drives the highest completion rates in the industry.
For tech professionals do you foresee any disruption in skill requirements as a result of the Covid-19 crisis?
The Covid-19 pandemic introduced new ways of work-life and the dependency on digital products and solutions which in turn lead to sudden explosion of data. In fact, statistics indicate that global data usage has increased as much as 38 per cent year-on-year in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. This sudden increase in data volumes is an indicator for the need of a skilled workforce who can manage, analyse, and identify trends from data collected. This means that growth opportunities for data engineers, data analysts, data scientists, and ML/AI engineers are going to expand, along with the creation of new job roles. The sectors where we can expect greater job opportunities to open up in the post Covid world are – data, cloud, cybersecurity, business analysts and digital marketing.
In the current scenario, with WFH becoming a common trend among tech teams, how will it impact the future of edtech startups like yours?
Across the past two years, online learning programs have witnessed an increase in demand and considered a credible tool to upskill and enhance one’s portfolio. However, with lockdown and companies taking to WFH, edtech platforms have certainly seen a sudden spike in enrollments and Simplilearn witnessed a 30 per cent jump in the past few months. In fact, WFH has pushed companies to further digitise operations and invest in new technologies like cloud and cybersecurity thereby creating a demand for workforce skilled in these areas. Companies are now looking at skilling existing workforce and the need for workforce to upskill will grow significantly. Traditional skills will soon be redundant and there will be a significant demand for future technology based skills.
With this said, edtech companies will see several organisations reaching out to collaborate and design corporate skilling programs to upskill employees and prevent redundancy.
What are your plans for the future in terms of new technologies and strategic expansion?
At Simplilearn, our aim is to enable continuous learning and empower professionals with the skills required to be job ready and succeed in the fast-changing digital economy. We offer a host of digital and tech based programs and are currently continuing efforts to further strengthen our offerings in new age technologies. In terms of business, currently more than 50 per cent of our business comes from the U.S and rest of the world, while around 40 per cent is from the India market. As part of our expansion plans, we are looking at expanding operations into newer markets and with our Deviare partnership in the African region, we are reinforcing our commitment to prepare a global workforce for the changing digital economy. It adds to the company’s other international partnerships with leading higher education institutions and online platforms to extend its global coverage.