Dublin Startup Stories: LearnUpon

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Dublin Startups tell their stories…

Tell us about your product.
LearnUpon is a powerful Learning Management System (LMS) that simplifies online learning. Our cloud-based platform allows organisations to train their employees, partners and customers around the world. We have grown to 600+ customers and 40+ employees, and have offices worldwide.

What inspired you to start the company?
LearnUpon’s co-founders, Brendan Noud and Des Anderson, have worked in eLearning for over 25 years. The company was built on their ambition to create a better LMS and tackle traditional frustrations within the market. Existing solutions were overly complicated to use, took forever to implement, had poor support and came with never ending costs. The founders created an easy to set up and use platform, and married that with exceptional support, which is free and available 24/7.

What market are you targeting and how big is it?
LearnUpon targets the corporate LMS market. Our customers are typically medium-sized enterprises, software and training companies that need to train their employees, customers or partners. Over 50% of our users are based in the US. The LMS market is valued at $4-5 billion and is expected to grow 20% pa through 2021 so the market potential is significant.

What’s your business model?
LearnUpon is a SaaS-based solution where customers pay an annual subscription. Our pricing is transparent and based on usage of the platform; it scales with our customers.

What was the funding process like?
We had angel funding to get us started and have been self-funded since. We have organically grown since 2012. We have found that by hiring great people, who listen to our customers and deliver on the trust they place in us daily, we can compete with anyone. That includes competing with a US company that has a market valuation of $1 billion and other US venture-backed LMS’s that have raised $60+ million.

What are the biggest challenges your business faces today?
The LMS market is a mature and crowded space with more than 600 vendors. LMS’s, in general, have a bad reputation, which comes from the clunky and overly complicated options that were historically available. Rising above the noise can be difficult. We addressed that with modern interfaces, a great user experience and terrific support, which quickly spread the word about us.

What milestones do you plan to achieve in the next 12 months?
We have grown from 20 employees to over 40 in 2016 and have more open positions. Our plan is to bank on the growth we have experienced and continue to build our platform and processes for our expanding customer base.

What advice can you offer companies in Dublin who are just starting out?
The startup journey is not easy! It is fun, but it is always hard work. Surround yourself with people that believe in the journey. Focus on your customers from day one and try to get them to pay for your product as soon as possible, even if it is only a small amount in the early days. The validation of paying customers is a significant milestone. LearnUpon’s co-founders Brendan and Des worked 24-hour shifts between them for nine months after acquiring their first Australian customer. That is the type of commitment to your clients’ success that is required to grow in a crowded market.

Tell us one (or more) things you love about Dublin as a startup community and as a city?
LearnUpon is a global company with employees and customers across the world, but our roots are very much in Dublin. Being Irish is part of our personality and something we see as a competitive advantage. Dublin’s reputation as the home of some of the world’s leading tech companies helps give credibility to any startup looking to operate on a global scale. We are proud to be part of Dublin’s startup ecosystem, and the support we have received from Enterprise Ireland, the NDRC, the Dublin Commissioner for Startups office and our fellow tech startups has been great. Experienced entrepreneurs are very approachable and willing to share their experiences, and we have found events like Mentoring for Scale to be invaluable as we continue on our journey to make LearnUpon the leading LMS in the world.

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