Imagine the world where the unification of the training industry is the reality. Where the industry is completely transparent and everyone has access to the shared knowledge. Where the training, coaching and consulting community invites both equal competition and collaboration. The world where the corporate education is on a completely different level.
Back in the early spring this year I've met a philosophy student (recruited in the future as head of sales and co-founder), who told me about his business idea. Coaching marketplace for consumers. Around the same time I had a Skype with a friend of mine, who worked as a trainer. He said a topic of digitalisation came up while he was having a coffee with couples of other trainers. "Why isn't there something like an online store for training? When you can log in, find what you want and book?" - they wondered.
I walked with this idea in my head for a bit until it clicked.
Coaching is not yet as popular among consumers, at least in Finland. It's still a very niche market. But training is not. Especially, corporate training. There are around 1900 (!) 1-3 men companies in Finland doing training, coaching and consulting, yet they have no straightforward connection with each other or their clients. Let alone training agencies, coaching and training organizations. The market is heavily dispersed.
So, what's in it for trainers?
Outsourcing sales and marketing: not everyone likes outsourcing, but it might be the most efficient way to go. First of all, it can actually turn out to be cheaper. Training agencies spend up to 50% of their budget on sales, marketing and their brand. If we could cut that number to, let's say 10%, the profits of trainers will increase by 80%. What is even more important though is that trainers will have more time to focus on what they do best: training, coaching, consulting. Ideally, they won't even have to have a fancy website and spend lots of money on creating it: they will simply get enough clients through the corporate training marketplace, which will only reinforce their business after every new happy client.
Being a part of a community: we don't only want to increase competition, we also want to increase collaboration. Why isn't there anything like European Training Congress? Why aren't there that many peer groups among different training organizations sharing their know-how?
Access to clients: we do realize that our product will increase competition inside the industry, but that competition will be fair and equal. Due to reference and rating system, people will get credit for what they deserve despite the size of their marketing budget. The transparency of the platform will be the key to equal competition. More than that, it will also be global. Instead of thinking inside the boundaries of one country, we finally will be able to access the world's expertise.
Why would the corporates be interested?
Scope: average training agency has no more than 50 trainers. Imagine if instead of choosing out of the 50 people in our own network, we could choose out of 5 000 from 5 continents? What if we could choose out of 50 000? Or 500 000? Even 5 000 000? It's the reality. Not only would it have increased the quality of corporate education by allowing us to find the best of the best, it would also have brought down the costs dramatically.
Security: What if we could trust the experts you have never seen as much as the ones we know? What if we could utilize the wisdom of the crowd through the reference and rating system? We don't even have to take any risks for someone we are hiring for the first time. The marketplace will take care of it and if (if!) something happens, they will pay us back.
In no time: now we can get what we need almost instantly, all due to the wonders of the Internet.
And one more thing!
Shared knowledge: let's be honest, it's hard to understand the industry. With a lot of individual players scattered around, it's hard to judge what exactly companies need and what exactly corporate educators have to offer. With neural network and big data analytics technology, we will be able to dig deeper into the knowledge around us. This could help us understand how to bring the industry to a completely new level.
What will be our role in it?
Frankly speaking, we believe the evolution of the training industry will happen even without us, eventually. We believe it's just a matter of time. So the real question is, what's our role in it? Looking back, I think that understanding of how grandiose, epic and impactful a business like this can be kept us going since spring.
Our way of bringing something new and innovative in the world is hard and we definitely are looking for allies. Could you be one of them?
Some say we are crazy, some say we are genius, we say time will show :)
Dima Syrotkin, CEO at Panda Training Oy