Sarah Sedgman, founder and CEO of LearnExperts, started her business in 2019 building a new product LEAi (LearnExperts Artificial Intelligence) that would help course creators be more efficient when creating a course, automatically embedding best practice, and bring it to market quicker in days not months.
Sarah started the business with the vision of bootstrapping LearnExperts, to be a self-funded business, and grow the business her way.
However, with the pandemic and changes in how we work, many businesses created digital learning products to either serve their internal team through training courses or sell digital learning products to external clients. The market changes put pressure on demand for LearnExpert’s product, and Sarah quickly realized that she needed to change her bootstrapping goals swiftly to capitalize on this opportunity.
As a result, Sarah turned attention to the core asset, built the product faster, successfully raised $1.25 million in funding that led to tripling the size of LearnExperts and putting them in acceleration mode.
The tool, LEAi, achieves rapid course creation by accelerating the mundane tasks of taking content that is not purpose-built for training and turning it into a ready-made course, and then the human goes through the end product to validate. LEAi helps course creators build courses using artificial intelligence (AI). The product helps create a course from existing material, such as a blog or presentation, to produce the learning content faster for their clients to train people on their solution sooner and make revenue faster. Through LEAi, you can convert comprehensive training manuals into microlearning courses with accuracy, efficiency, and ease.
If you are trying to build a business quickly, Sarah suggests the following tips:
1. It’s ok to change your plan
LearnExpert’s initial plan was to bootstrap the business. Still, when product demand was high, and people wanted to buy in, they had to quickly adjust their strategy and raise capital to support the growth of the business. As markets are forever changing, a company needs to respond to what it is telling them. When the market is telling you to do something else, you need to listen and follow.
2. Ask for advice
When they don’t have enough information to make a firm decision, the best entrepreneurs know they need to seek expert advice. You can’t be an expert at everything, and it takes a village to build a business. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
3. Build your network
It’s through networking that will allow you to meet others who are like-minded and help you build trust with people who will help you for the long term.
4. Build a high performing team
As a start-up, it can be challenging to afford good talent, but if you can find ways to pull funding and not settle for less, you can make it happen. There are grants and funding support out there, and you need to find it.
5. Consistently validate your solution with the market
Sarah wanted to bring the best product to market to serve client needs, so she tested the product and valued the feedback she received from customers. She knew it was essential to take the time to understand customer feedback and build a product with much value that customers would enjoy using.
The bottom line is that building a business does not always happen the way you plan for, but if you show resiliency and adapt to market demands, you can build a better version of the business you had planned.