Staying the course: a unique solution for e-learning

Melvyn Lubaga and Andrew Barnes (top) are co-founders of the learning platform GO1.com

Melvyn Lubaga and Andrew Barnes (top) are co-founders of the learning platform GO1.com

Solutions for training and education are currently fragmented, without any platform aggregating online and offline training options. GO1.com is a cloud-based e-learning platform solving this problem. The global e-learning market is estimated at R3.2-trillion and has been growing at 8% compounded annually over the last five years, according to Ambient Insight. 

Established only two years ago with the aim to be market leader, GO1. com already has more than 150 000 users and continues to grow rapidly every month. It has been established as a truly global business from the start with operations in four different countries and clients in more than 20. 

GO1.com offers organisations a custom-branded, hosted learning portal from which they can curate and deliver training faster and more easily. Organisations can create their own courses and use existing courses available in GO1.com’s growing marketplace. GO1.com is more than just a content provider or learning management solution in isolation; it addresses a number of challenges currently faced by users of similar platforms. These challenges include the lack of synergy with mobile devices and ability to leverage existing course material. 

Shortly after the launch the platform was acknowledged as the best new learning management system out of 500 systems reviewed by eLearning.org, and has been selected to participate in the prestigious Y-Combinator programme in San Francisco.

Andrew Barnes (27) and Melvyn Lubega (26) met at Oxford University as Rhodes Scholars, where they were both pursuing a master’s in science in education (learning & technology). Barnes also holds a bachelor of business management, economics and econometrics, as well as a PhD in business strategy from the University of Queensland. Lubega also holds a master of public policy from Oxford University and a bachelor of business science majoring in actuarial science and statistics from the University of Cape Town. 

Barnes had founded a web development agency in Brisbane, Australia, and Lubega had just left the Boston Consulting Group. GO1.com was started because of the founders’ poor experiences with the training systems available at the time, reinforced by repeated requests from clients in the professional services arena seeking to find an off-the-shelf solution to cater for their needs. “Despite the prominence of education and training both in South Africa and globally, current solutions are haphazard,” says Lubega. 

The first version of the learning management system was developed and tested with existing web development clients. From these initial bespoke client solutions, GO1.com has been commercialised into a software- as-a-service product. 

Together with some of the other team members of the web development business, Barnes and Lubega became the founders of GO1.com and received their first investment from Oxford University and venture capital firms in Australia and the United States. 

Lubega says: “Particularly in the early days, one challenge was not having appropriate mentors who had looked for early-stage funding, built software companies trying to introduce technology into existing fields like education and scaled their businesses globally.” Combining a direct-to-consumer and B2B (business- to-business) model is another unique part of the business’ offering. Businesses and individuals are increasingly seeing the importance of investing in professional development. Lubega says, “I believe helping someone learn is the most meaningful investment you can make in a person. At GO1.com we are lowering the barrier to access learning opportunities while making learning fun.” 

One of these barriers is the assymmetry of information, which a dominant aggregator of online and offline training options could overcome. 

From its underlying product architecture through to the sales process, GO1.com is a scalable business allowing access to the best training in the world from anywhere in the world. It successfully serves clients who are geographically diverse and come from widely different industries. 

Both Lubega and Barnes are already role models within the entrepreneurial ecosystems, inspiring others to establish globally operating companies. In South Africa, Lubega has been particularly involved in the developing of the technology start-up ecosystem, speaking widely on his experiences as well as mentoring and advising aspiring entrepreneurs. “As GO1.com has grown we have attracted talented and committed team members, team members who rely on GO1.com’s success to provide for their families. For me success is benchmarked by how many sustainable jobs I create and individuals in which I invest, not simply the amount of money I make,” says Lubega. 

Find out more at Go1.com

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