Lessons in entrepreneurship: The success of Simplilearn

Krishna Kumar explores how an opportunity to train professionals enabled him to make Simplilearn a success

Krishna Kumar, CEO, Simplilearn

Krishna Kumar, CEO, Simplilearn

Employment Chaos during Recession  
The global financial meltdown of 2008-2009 engulfed the world economy with its ripple effect spanning countries. With the falling stock market, slump in job availability, companies downsizing their workforce and drastically cutting down of perks and other activities, the meltdown set the alarm beeping for the upcoming years.  In majority of the developed countries, the number of organisations that were actively involved in training their employees decreased during the crisis.  
The training market for corporates faded from $58.5 billion in 2007 to $56.2 billion in 2008, according to an industry report. This was bound to happen given that training becomes an ‘easy to cut’ expense during tight economic situations. However, the recession brought some significant lessons not just to businesses, but also to professionals worldwide on the importance of updating their skills and making it a priority to keep abreast of the changing industry requirements. With multiplied pink slips in tech corridors, recession was nothing less than a warning bell for professionals who wanted to get themselves trained and re-skilled to secure their jobs. This led to individuals who were stressed about their trailing careers to seek alternative ways to learn and train themselves against traditional learning methods.

A blog can open up to the world
Having been inclined towards education and sharing knowledge, I started blogging in 2009 after I sold my first venture– TechUnified. The blog was a personal platform where I helped PMP aspirants to crack their certification examinations through audio and visual e-tutorials. There was a surge of people visiting the blog from various parts of the world and in less than nine months, I trained over 3,000 professionals from over 30 countries. It was then that I recognised the requirement for a structured online learning platform, and more importantly, the necessity for a professional to be certified by a recognised certification body. Over time, I realised that this personal blog on project management had immense potential to become an online business that can cater to the training needs of professionals. 

About a decade ago, India achieved its status as a global technology hub with growing Internet and mobile penetration to its credit. A major offshoot of this development was the beginning of online learning, which gained immense popularity. There was a gradual shift of focus from the traditional brick-and-mortar classrooms to online classroom training, among computer-savvy individuals. Not just individuals, even organisations started adapting online methods for training their employees. 

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Everyone needs to upskill, technology is changing business dynamics of every industry globally
The future of professional training through the online learning model looked positive owing to a few key factors.  The education system proved to be a hurdle for young graduates for quite some time as the course syllabus had not been updated according to the expected industry and job requirements. This discrepancy became a major concern among young working professionals as they were not industry-ready ironically at a time when the country emerged as a leading technology hub. Another factor that set the momentum of online professional training was the need to re-skill mid-level professionals who faced career stagnation. While technologies have eliminated jobs in the past, it can also create demand for specific skill sets of professionals, irrespective of their work experience. Skills that complement newer technologies have always been in demand. A decade or two ago, software professionals were only required to know programming codes. But with technology changing the way organisations function, professionals do not have a choice but to upgrade their software skills in imminent categories like big data, analytics, cloud computing, digital marketing and more. From being in demand at the work place, better salary hikes and promotions to being considered highly employable by head hunters or just to stay ahead of the knowledge curve, individuals have begun to recognise the advantages of online professional courses, which are aligned to the industry demands, in up-skilling themselves within the comfort of their homes.

My simple learnings from starting Simplilearn came into existence at the right time when more and more professionals were looking for avenues to get themselves certified in a professional and smart way. The short-term courses are designed to help learners grasp the concepts effectively, qualify the exams, and gain certification to move ahead in their careers. Simplilearn, currently, has more than 250 courses and has trained more than four lakh professionals. Having just completed five years, Simplilearn’s success can be attributed to its learner-centric course development programme aiming to equip learners with the latest skills through various techniques that make learning easy and effective.

Looking at my entrepreneurial journey, I have learnt that the Internet is nothing less than a global market that allows you to acquire customers, make revenues and provide access to wider opportunities worldwide. Hence, I believe that it is crucial for any start-up with a sustained business model and solid product innovation to go online, as there is no option of being offline any more.

Krishna Kumar, Founder & CEO, Simplilearn

First Published: Sep 3 2015 | 12:26 PM IST

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