The accelerated demand for transforming learning has been growing year after year. Leaders are revamping their skilling agenda to suit current needs in the ‘now’ world of work. Leaders are forced to reimagine a sustainable future of workplace learning.
In a recent chat with Ashish Kumar Jha, CEO & Co-Founder, Vani.coach, we discussed how the picture of corporate learning is changing and how Vani.coach is enabling corporates with tech+human solutions in learning.
Here are the excerpts:
What was the tipping point for starting Vani.coach?
While there were many instances which compelled us to do many different things, I would like to share two reasons which led us to start Vani.coach.
First being our encounter with a client who was seeking learning solutions for a workforce of 2,000 medical reps. We were asked to coach these people as they used to struggle quite a bit on the communications bit. And while we knew that we could help them, we didn't have the wherewithal to run a program of that size or at that scale. We were accustomed to running batches of 20-25 people, we could stretch to 100, maybe even 200, but 2,000 seemed a little too big.
That is when we started thinking, how do we build a solution where without too much reliance on large coach workforces, we are still able to get to people. That's where the idea of skilling at scale was born. And that's ultimately how Vani was formed.
Secondly, there are three major shifts taking place around us. The first one is that the nature of the workforce is changing and a demographic shift has taken place. They don't look at learning as just something which is strictly need-based, they look at learning as a means to grow. Second is that we could see more and more people coming to our programs, who traditionally we would have thought are already fairly good in their communication. But then we realized that they had greater aspirations. And the third thing is that technology has also come ahead quite a bit. Things that we would have been required to design from scratch, now can be put together with agile, small modules.
How does the product work?
The closest analogy that I can think of is sports. So if you are, let's say a cricketer, or a tennis player or a swimmer, the best way you can achieve professional excellence is by daily practice. Vani does the same thing for working professionals, when it comes to various aspects of communication. So a coach creates a personalized account for each individual. It's not just a product by itself. It's a tech plus human partnership.
Vani is a coach which resides as an app on your phone. And we are now also building it for wearables. It also partners with a human coach who is from the trained people in our pool. The human coach will build a personalized account for the learners. They can practice everyday, which means that you speak, you record yourself, you play back, you reflect, you write down your thoughts on the app, and a coach at the backend keeps giving you feedback. So, the way this product works is to give you a platform for supervised practice, and keep tracking your progress.
What has been the traction like for you? What is the revenue model you follow?
It starts with a four-month subscription. We have a B2B engagement, so typically with an organization, we look at signing up 350 to 400 users in a year each. And for each learner, the subscription fee is approximately Rs 8000, roughly about $110. And, it can go upwards depending upon what the need is because there is a certain amount of customization as well.
We started this year with 100 users on the platform from three enterprise organizations. Between June to September and four months, we have signed up with 20 enterprises. This includes companies like CIPLA, Kotak and L&T large organizations. We have approximately 1,500 plus paid users on our platform right now. We anticipate that by the end of March 2022, we should be able to get to 15,000 plus paid users, which we'll get to get us to around $1.6 million in ARR.
Your take on the competition in the space that you are in? How do you differentiate yourself?
We need to think of competition in two slots.
One is competition for the wallet share. There is some competition in terms of other online learning platforms that offer these courses. For many, coaching is a different concept. And as a result, they end up taking online courses. People who are coming to us have a higher willingness to pay compared to just an online course. Once organizations look at the learning outcomes, I don't feel they will be inclined towards our competition.
There are a few global players who are providing the same service as us. whom we consider to be a direct competition, they do what we do. They have been doing a very good job of taking this idea. They serve Ivy League colleges and senior leadership. The pricing is about five times that of ours. So this space is growing naturally and the competition is also growing. The good news is that the need for it is way way higher than the supply. The demand far exceeds the supply.
From our end, there are three things that we have done to stay ahead of the competition.
Number one, we've always ensured that we offer a certain percentage of success, which means that we charge 35% of the fee, only when the client validates the learning outcome. So if that outcome is not visible, we don't get paid. And fortunately, we have not lost even a single dollar till date successfully. That offers a lot of confidence to the clients that we are talking about delivering the end result.
The second thing is that we tie the learning exactly with the business context of it. It's not just a course, or it's not just a program or a number of sessions. We are also tying certain business deliverables, business metrics along with that. So along with communication, fitness improvement, we also offer improvement in terms of job performance. And that's I think something which is of a lot of value to the clients.
The third is our product is built upon 12 years of rigorous experience. As we have worked with 35 plus large enterprises globally,and coached 30,000 plus people, all that data, all that experience is assimilated into this.
Please share some details of any recent funding raised, use of proceeds. What are your future expansion plans?
We raised approximately $60,000 from friends and family. We've been accepted by the Workplace Accelerator, Singapore. So they are grooming our team to prepare us to go to the next level because we believe we are very close to that product market fit stage. And we wanted to sort of conserve cash and go in a way that we are clear what we are scaling up.
We are looking at raising funds and scaling up aggressively because now we have clarity that we have found our product.
How do you see the future of corporate learning shaping up?
There are three things to think about when we talk about corporate learning.
In corporate learning, all these three things are important. So if it is purely about knowledge dissemination, go for solid online learning modules, videos and modules and all sorts of things. If it is skilling, go for a blended approach. And if It is about anything for experiential learning that I think in person is what would work.
Any tips for industry leaders for gearing up for the next normal in the space of L&D.
Two things that I'd like to talk about.
- Leave no one behind: A rising tide raises all the ships, so we need to start thinking even more about skilling & empowering everyone. Skilling has to be seen as something which works for everyone
- It's ok to fail: At some level, we need the courage to say that we'll go and try it differently. This is how you find the right success formula for your organisation.
Don’t miss out on hearing Vani.Coach’s story at the People Matters L&D Conference along with other best minds in the L&D space. Join us!