Tell us about your business – what you do and when and why you started it?
Thought Industries was founded in 2013 in Boston by three partners with a combination of experience in e-learning, digital product development and publishing. We offer a turnkey e-learning platform for publishers, consumer brands and experts so they can deliver powerful learning experiences to their consumer audiences. We are laser-focused on what we call “consumer learning” which we see as the pursuit of lifelong learning by individuals who want to further their knowledge in areas of personal interest. For example: hobbies, nutrition and fitness, sports, fine arts, crafts, career development, and personal improvement. It’s an established channel, with off-the-charts growth that brands are embracing for customer education, customer engagement and content marketing. We also offer professional services; helping our clients build business cases (P&Ls, market research, content strategies etc.) as they look to enter this growth market opportunity.
How big is the company?
At this point we have about 18 staff working at the company, but are growing steadily this year. We have some employees in Boston, but also have a number of remote employees. We like to go to where the best talent is.
Is business good?
We are seeing a very strong demand among media owners in particular. For any size media owner, online learning is a highly lucrative, growing market opportunity. Our research shows that 300 per cent growth year-on-year among those taking online courses outside academic or corporate training settings. Our platform is a white-label option for publishers so they can continue to maintain a direct educational relationship with their consumer base. Publishers are very well positioned as: 1. They have a lot of rich content that can be easily transformed into learning products. 2. They have established marketing and distribution channels to promote and offer online learning. 3. They have highly loyal audiences that trust them as credible sources for learning or how-to content. 4. With other product categories on decline (especially newsstand) this is a very effective way to add a strong profit centre to publishing businesses.
Who are your main or targeted clients?
We are primarily focused on the US and international publishing industry (about 90 per cent of our focus is here) but are also working with event and trade show organisations who are looking for ways to stay engaged and connected with their audiences year-round. We have a number of customers who are bloggers, subject-matter experts and authors who are leveraging their e-books and other content to create online courses. Lastly we are working with associations who are eager to provide resources and education to their partners and members.
What plans do you have?
Our product is a cloud-hosted platform, which allows us to release new features each month. Features like easy course authoring, highly-integrated e-commerce, reporting, marketing tools, user management and more and we continue to improve these features all the time. We are excited to expand our work in the publishing market and would urge any organisations thinking about an initiative involving any type of learning to reach out to us. We have a lot of market experience and enjoy working early on with clients.
Is international expansion on the cards?
Our platform offers internationalisation and we see ourselves very much as an internationally positioned organisation. We are excited about expanding our discussions and client-base outside the USA.
Is that why you joined FIPP?
We joined FIPP because we heard a lot of great things about the organisation. We understood that the majority of our clients and future clients are members and felt like joining would be a great way to introduce our ideas on consumer learning to the international industry. We believe very strongly that there is an enormous opportunity for publishers in this space and we wanted to share our knowledge, research and ideas.
What benefits do you think you will gain from membership?
We have already seen immediate benefits. The staff at the organisation have been incredibly proactive in helping us get the most out of our membership. The content in the newsletters, the member directory and magazine are all great ways for us to stay connected and being able to talk about what we do here in the magazine is fantastic.
Any other comments?
If anyone would like to learn more about building an online learning business we’d love to hear from you. We also publish content twice a week on our blog offering insights, how-tos and more on online consumer learning. For more, visit www.thoughtindustries.com.