Employee training is often a necessary evil if you’re a large enterprise. Often, those employees don’t pay attention during the expensive, 8-hour long seminars and your company suffers in the long haul. What if you brought that same content into the 21st century through game learning? mLevel is an easy-to-use micro-learning platform that could improve your employees’ training retention and increase their engagement through game-based learning.
The SaaS platform allows your company to create interactive games with training information for your employees. It helps them better retain information and allows you to see the gaps in knowledge. Better yet, it’s all backed by detailed analytics so you can see what’s working and what’s not. Employees can play the games through their mobile device or web client and undergo new employee training, compliance training, or new updates on your product.
CEO Jordan Fladell along with David Cutler founded the company in 2012 and moved its headquarters from Chicago down to Atlanta this past summer. At 20 employees and counting, mLevel is quickly finding its place in the education industry as it delivers bite-sized chunks of information to employees in both small business and enterprises.
Now, the mLevel crew is headed to Venture Atlanta next month and Fladell is giving us the scoop on what sets mLevel apart from other learning platforms and key lessons he has learned as a CEO.
Congrats on being selected for Venture Atlanta! How are you preparing for it and what are your expectations?
We’re very excited to have the opportunity to participate this year in Venture Atlanta, and getting ready for it is certainly an adventure all in itself. The best part is all the coaches we’ve been able to meet with as they help us prepare our deck and tell the mLevel story to all the attendees. The Venture Atlanta process is really a different approach to getting exposure with so many potential new investors. It’s caused us to think differently, focusing not on what would be a traditional capital raising presentation, but more creating an awareness of what mLevel brings to the table. At the end of the day, our presentation will focus on why we’re unique, and why it’s such a great opportunity for those who invest in southeastern based companies to participate.
Tell me more about what mLevel is bringing into the industry right now. How are you changing the landscape of training?
The beauty of what we’ve built is that it’s really designed for today’s learner or what we like to call, the modern learner. If you think about today’s world versus the education world that I grew up in 20-30 years ago, where you didn’t have things like cell phones and you surely didn’t have apps like SnapChat or Instagram. All you had was three channels on a television set or you could go outside to play, and those were your options to keep yourself occupied as a child. Today, we’ve moved into an on-demand world, and the expectations for instant gratification, instant fulfillment, and our learners have evolved. Our brain has evolved to the point where we now have the attention span of a goldfish, which is essentially 8 seconds.
Most legacy learning technologies were designed, and are still designed, in a way that addresses the old school learner, because unfortunately the education industry and the corporate learning space have been lagging behind others when it comes to technological innovations. What we have built with mLevel is a micro-learning platform. It takes information and breaks it into bite-sized chunks, allowing corporations, education companies, publishers, or anybody who has content, reassemble it into our platform without any coding experience. They can then deploy it to a mobile device, tablet, or browser for a great user experience. Essentially within minutes they can design micro-learning activities such as games, flashcards, simple simulations and other learning activities all from one source of content.
What are the features that come with mLevel for enterprises, and how can they use them to train their employees?
mLevel comes with three pieces of a puzzle and is built to be enterprise secure. We built this application with the largest enterprises on the globe in mind, so it’s very easy for an organization to plug in and play with us. Integrate into our single sign-on tool and their users are authenticated right away.
Once they have integrated with their SSO feed they then have two different options to engage. They can come to us with their content or they can go into our admin tool itself (we like to call it the studio) build the content out, then assign it to any of our 17 learning activities that are specifically designed to drive outcomes with the learner. They can go apply and assign their content to those individual activities, create questions, assign those questions to the activities, publish them, and make it accessible to anyone in their organization through any mobile device or tablet, be it iOS, Android, or Windows Mobile.
After they publish the mLevel mission the fun really begins as our application allows our clients to track all the data we create. Because our entire platform is data driven we can actually see what people do and don’t know in near real time, and allow a business, a teacher, anybody who is delivering that education, to see how to help they can help the learner overcome their challenges which it’s our goal.
What are some founder lessons have you learned so far?
I’ve had the luxury of being on founding teams now for more than 20 years. No company gets built the same. Nothing seems to go as you lay out the plan. I always tell people, when you’re a founder and you build a business plan, you’ve got to make sure it’s either written on a whiteboard or something you can erase rather quickly because it’s more about building a strategic direction.
You can go to school and build the best business plan in the world, and that will give you a framework to move forward, but the reality is once your business is in play, once you’re talking to customers, once you’re dealing with employees, once you’re running into technology challenges, you have to be nimble enough to learn, and accept that failure is your potential, and realistic outcome.
How do you react to that failure? How do you, quickly, accept, digest, and then communicate the lessons learned from that failure? That’s probably one of the key success points you can have as a founder because you’re going to make mistakes. The best business plan in the world is only on a piece of paper. Therefore, you have to kind of look up and say, “How can I mentally be comfortable with the fact that I’m going to fail repetitively on my way to my journey of success?”
In terms of funding, you mentioned you’re not specifically looking for funding at Venture Atlanta. What are some goals you have for the conference?
At this point in time, we’re really looking at Venture Atlanta as a great way to build great relationships with new venture partners who we didn’t meet during our first round, re-establish relationships with those who didn’t get an opportunity to participate in our last round and had an interest in partnering with us. The goal is to set the groundwork and lay the foundation for us to be able to be successful as we begin our capital raise in 2017.