“Learning is critical for everyone’s success.”
“Today, we are living in a world of continual change that we’ve never experienced before. Some industries are putting an end to jobs, and new ones are popping up. And so, the need to reskill, upskill and gain new knowledge is not a once in a lifetime activity, it’s continual, and it needs to fit into the flow of work.”
Those are the words of HowToo co-founder Lisa Vincent, who has built her business to solve the ever-present problem of creating effective and engaging learning and development content in the workplace.
The 2020 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report found that whilst 75 per cent of organisations said creating and preserving knowledge across the evolving workforces is important for their success, only 9 per cent said they are ready to address this trend.
That’s where Vincent and HowToo come in.
The HowToo journey
In 2000, Vincent and her business partner Jenny Barltrop founded their first business Savv-e – a custom learning design agency. As they quickly acquired large corporate clients, over the years they discovered a need for organisations to share knowledge within their teams themselves, without a team of UX designers, learning experts or professional equipment.
“One of the major hurdles we saw for businesses integrating learning in their workplace was a lack of skills and knowledge about learning design and learning science,” Barltrop said.
“Often people who have content will just pop it into a page without really thinking about the outcome for the learner. There’s so much more that can be done incorporating the principles of cognitive science, learning science and neuroscience, which will ultimately get better results from your learners.”
HowToo is an authoring tool that allows businesses to create custom learning modules using pre-made templates with built-in learning science. Having been described as “the Canva of eLearning,” the startup has experienced exponential growth since launching.
“We started in 2018 and have seen massive growth since then,” Vincent said.
“We were talking to one of our key Savv-e clients who also asked us for a tool that they could provide to their continuing education customers. After making a significant pre-sale with them, we had the funds to develop a minimum viable product, and then through 2019 built that out, tested it with target customers and made many, many changes to the architecture.
“Our official launch was in February this year, and since then we have doubled our team, and seen 100 per cent quarter on quarter revenue growth.”
Built for businesses of all sizes, the HowToo tool has already been picked up by government agencies, SMEs and large corporates.
“It’s so simple and yet it allows you the opportunity to get creative,” said a spokesperson from Campbelltown City Council. “The finished product looks professional and polished.”
Being a female founder in a male-dominated industry
With only one in four tech entrepreneurs being women, what is it like for two female founders entering the tech world?
Speaking anecdotally, Vincent says “it has been really positive.”
“We find that there’s a lot of generosity out there. People want to give founders a bit of a leg up to help them get the word out there, which has been great.”
“It was a bit more difficult in the early stages of Savv-e. Disappointingly, we found financial institutions were less receptive to female founders, as we tend to have smaller networks.
“But with HowToo, and having to pitch a product to investors, I’ve learned to be more bold, and have learned to effectively communicate the worth of our product.”
HowToo are also the recipients of the Australian Government Boosting Female Founders Grant, which will help evolve the platform into a novel AI-enabled learning marketplace.
Advice for fellow startup founders
When asked what advice she would give to a budding startup founder, Vincent said to focus on the customer.
“You need to understand the needs of your customer, and make sure that you have a real problem you are solving,” she said. “Know your customers intimately, and connect with your customers intimately.”
“I would suggest that you build out a minimum viable product and test it with your potential users. Ultimately, your business is made for them, so it is very important to keep them at the centre.”