KNOLSKAPE's product was designed keeping in mind two interesting characteristics of a Gen Y learner, a short attention span and an exposure to gaming - Rajiv Jayaraman, Founder and CEO, KNOLSKAPE
When Rajiv Jayaraman encountered a simulation on organizational behavior in his MBA program at INSEAD, he was spellbound. “(It) was an eye opener” he says “as until then, I had experienced only one- way lectures”. Having dabbled in performing arts during weekends, while working on products and patents for his day job, he had always nursed an interest to create something at the intersection of creativity and technology. The simulation left him with a creative spark. “I started working on creating a product by fusing education, technology and storytelling, and there was no looking back” says Jayaraman, who went on to start KNOLSKAPE, a gamification and simulation software company in Singapore.
The company’s first client was Rajiv’s own alma-mater, INSEAD, where he and his Chief Products Officer Vijay Kalangi, worked on simulations and management training in their first year. Soon, they started working for other B-Schools such as Kellogg, ISB and SP Jain. Rajiv notes that starting out with INSEAD proved to be a major advantage in getting their early customers.
While top B-Schools were open to the idea of simulations, convincing companies to move from traditional learning approaches to gamified immersive learning was not easy. “Using games for learning was not a popular concept with companies” says Jayaraman. “Learning was seen as a serious activity and games didn’t seem like a credible methodology for driving learning outcomes”. Educating possible customers about the effectiveness of making learning fun was one of KNOLSKAPE’s biggest challenges.
The tool: AktivLearn
Despite the growing popularity of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) amongst a new generation of learners, engagement rates often have been low and completion rates have been as low as 15 percent. KNOLSKAPE’s entrant (which went on to win) for the TechHR’15 Spotlight awards in Talent Management category was AktivLearn, a gamified learning management system. Launched in August 2014, it was designed keeping in mind two interesting characteristics of a Gen Y learner, a short attention span and an exposure to gaming. The product doesn’t just have reward points and badges; it is customized to provide the learner a story about the company and their role in it.
Apart from improving memory retention among learners, it is used to motivate and engage learners to socialize with other peers, interact and challenge each other on various topics. In order to understand how to improve employee engagement, the company examined various stages involved in the process of learning including induction, pre-assessment quiz, context setting, simulation, debrief and a post-assessment quiz. Once areas were identified, the information and insights were mapped to the product’s roadmap. It provides learners with “anytime, anywhere” interface and gives companies “skill Analytics” to help unleash the potential of their employees.
From its inception, KNOLSKAPE has been completely bootstrapped and its business model has been built on learning products, platforms and programs.
On entrepreneurship & the future
Jayaraman’s advice to young entrepreneurs is to focus on value. “ It is enticing to think that technology can solve all problems but ultimately success depends on not just technology but the value created, processes used to create and deliver value and a ‘win-win’ revenue model”, he says.
Even as companies experiment by investing in different learning initiatives, gamification and experiential learning still remains a novelty. “We want to change this and make experiential learning the new norm”, says Jayaraman. “People who have experienced our simulation have never questioned its effectiveness…In fact, it is rare that we don’t get repeat orders from our customers” he adds.
While KNOLSKAPE’s products have been embraced by some of the best in the industry and top business schools, their focus is on scaling up their business model. “We are at a tipping point” says Jayaraman, who is working towards taking his products globally.