Learning is earning, and for NDRC company LearnUpon, that has never been more true, with plans to reach 100 employees in the next few years. The best advice the founders ever received? Aim for a single target market.

Founded by a team of industry professionals, LearnUpon came through NDRC’s LaunchPad programme in 2012.

Brendan Noud and Des Anderson’s combined two-decades of experience in eLearning helped the duo spot a gap in the market: the new age of learning management systems (LMS) was upon us.

“At the time, we each found that existing LMS products were not very good,” said Noud, CEO of the company.

“The options available were overly complex and had to be customised to each user, which meant it took far too long to roll out, in some cases it took 18 months.

“Add in to that the subsequent delays in altering an LMS with that type of lead in and the cost of upgrades to the latest version of the software … we could see the system was broken.”

Noud and Anderson, the latter now LearnUpon’s CTO, built up a product that was metric-driven, fast to implement and an attractive option for companies to buy into.

All of LearnUpon’s business is inside sales, with the majority of its 700+ customers based in the US, with the company recently opening an office in Philadelphia to help service such a key part of its client base.

The duo grew from a two-person founding team to a now 50-strong global company, with plans to double that number in the next couple of years. Noud also aims to reach several thousand customers over the course of the next decade.

With a development team in Belgrade, and further offices in Sydney and Dublin, the latter is where most of the team are based, expansion is the theme of the day for Noud and Anderson. Though that wasn’t always the case. 

‘At the start, all you want to do is get cash in the door. You want cash in the door because that’s what you need to survive’

- Brendan Noud, CEO, LearnUpon

When Noud and Anderson first engaged with NDRC and applied to get into LaunchPad, they were early stage, with a prototyped alpha version of a product.

“Our basic aim was to launch a paid service by the end of the programme,” remembers Noud, “and we did. Well, the programme ended in May and we launched in June.”

LearnUpon, like any business, started from scratch, building up to seven paying customers in the first few months.

“The biggest benefit for us while we were at NDRC was the focus from the mentors who we worked with. For example, Harry Largey looked at our business model, our strategy.

“Initially we were going after three types of customers: the corporate sector, professional training companies and also associations. Harry told us we needed to focus on just one, three was too many.

“We chose the middle target, professional training companies, and that turned out to be a really good move for us.

“That was probably the best piece of advice that we got since starting the company.”

 The duo then went out and worked the beat, turning up at events or conferences where training companies might be. “Everywhere and anywhere,” said Noud, “anywhere that LMS was relevant”.

“Every business in the world could use our platform, but we focused in on that area. Training companies could launch our LMS in minutes,” said Noud, who estimates that 80 of LearnUpon’s first 100 companies came from that space.

“That got us established, it gave us logos on our site, testimonials, revenues and most importantly happy customers. From there we moved into the corporate sector, a higher-value market for us.”

With LearnUpon’s success now well-established, growth is the order of the day – the prize of global expansion firmly in Noud’s mind. It’s a long way from when NDRC first got involved with the company.

“At the start, all you want to do is get cash in the door,” said Noud of LearnUpon’s early days. “You want cash in the door because that’s what you need to survive. You want to establish yourself, get the name out there.

“Now the challenges are completely different. Now we’re scaling, maintaining standards as our team grows, making sure we get the people who will put the customer experience at the heart of what they do every day.

“Also, a key priority is making sure that Des and I stay as close as possible to the business.”