Technology has a way of breathing new life into institutions that can become bogged down by tradition. Education, for example, has experienced major upheavals thanks to new innovations. Learning is no longer restricted to the classroom and many educators are utilizing new online and mobile tools to modernize their curriculum.
That’s where EDUonGo comes in. The Bellevue-based startup aims to be the default tool for educators who want to create an online teaching presence — think WordPress for eLearning.
The cloud-based platform lets users launch an “online academy” and doesn’t require any software development or IT know-how.
In late 2013, EDUonGO raised $530,000 from Australia-based education and investing company Circulus Education. Since its 2012 launch, the company has amassed a customer base of over 6,000 users including K-12 teachers, education consultants, and professional trainers.
“We also serve schools and organizations that find their current Learning Management System either limited or too expensive,” said CEO Ridvan Aliu. “The biggest hidden costs of any LMS are customization and integration; we reduce these costs with our flexible architecture along with our world-class development service.”
We caught up with Aliu for this installment of Startup Spotlight, a regular GeekWire feature.
Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: “eLearning made easy: the fastest way for anyone to create a custom eLearning solution.”
Inspiration hit us when: “In 2012, I was running a consulting firm that provided development services to companies like Microsoft, Amazon and Disney. Because my developers were located in Kosovo, I realized I needed a solid learning management system to train them remotely. It was after seeing the ineffectiveness of customizing other systems that I decided to start EDUonGo.”
VC, Angel or Bootstrap: “EDUonGo is funded by bootstrap and angel investment. Our first angel investment was $150,000 and came from friends and families, enabling us to launch the product in January 2013. Our second angel investment was $430,000 and it came from one of our satisfied customers. Because they loved our system so much, they decided to invest in the company.”
Our ‘secret sauce’ is: “An incredible eLearning system made by an incredible team on turbo speed. In less than two years, our team has created the most customizable and integrative learning platform on the market. Because of the flexible design and execution speed of our team, EDUonGo is now the fastest way for anyone to create a custom eLearning solution.”
The smartest move we’ve made so far: “Our focus has been on forming strategic partnerships and is at the heart of our business strategy. Key partners such as Circulus Education have allowed us to generate revenue quickly and expand globally without having to invest heavily in sales and marketing.”
The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “We’re very motivated, which means we sometimes tackle too much. In the beginning, we didn’t market to K-12. However, over 300 teachers ended up turning to us to flip their classrooms. Making our products work for multiple market segments has not been an issue, but it does make our market position as a startup a bit confusing.”
Would you rather have Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: “Who wouldn’t want all of them in their corner? But if we have to pick one, we would choose Bill Gates. His passion for improving education aligns closely with EDUonGo’s vision.”
Our world domination strategy starts when: “WordPress is our inspiration. We want our eLearning platform to create a similar global ecosystem that WordPress has created.”
Rivals should fear us because: “We know how to execute. We may be small, but we can build high-quality software as well and fast as any company.”
We are truly unique because: “While we are small, our team is made up of members from around the globe. We are young, yet have extensive experience shipping successful products on the market for clients such as Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Disney, Ford and Code.”
The biggest hurdle we’ve overcome is: “Networking with the investment community is something new to us. We were lucky to gain help from angel investors early on and to have Steve Arnold to join our advisory board.”
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: “Find investors and partners that share your passion. Our largest investor is a customer and another investor left his corporate job to join EDUonGo full-time. Capital is important for any startup, but getting investors who shared your passion is just as critical.”