Arivanza is an innovative e-learning production platform that enables any user to generate visually sophisticated, asset-rich content in HTML5. A four-tiered product, Arivanza is currently made up by Arivanza Create and Arivanza Services, with the launch of Arivanza Market and Arivanza Learn expected by the end of 2015.
KITE Invest: Please give a brief summary of Arivanza and the four units: Create, Services, Market and Learn.
Arivanza: Arivanza Technologies was founded with the idea that education will go through a series of major changes in the upcoming decades that will reshape the way education is understood nowadays.
Paraphrasing Sir Ken Robinson in his speech given to the RSA in 2008, the problem is that the current system of education was designed, conceived and structured for a different age. It was conceived in the intellectual culture of the enlightenment and in the economic circumstances of the industrial revolution.
Arivanza Technologies was created to design and build tools that empower students, parents, tutors and teachers to change the system and adapt it to the new reality. We envision a future in which technology will play a big part in enabling a more personalised, self-driven, ubiquitous and affordable education. Working with that vision in mind, we have defined 4 key units:
Arivanza Create is all about content authoring. The educator needs to be in control of the content to be able to adapt it to their students, or even let the students do it by themselves. With Arivanza Create the teacher/trainer is able to create, in a simple and collaborative manner, multimedia content that works on any browser and can be uploaded to any LMS in the market. Courses are visually sophisticated, asset-rich, with perfect synchronisation between different audio and visual elements, which are responsive to any device.
However some organisations lack the available resources to produce high quality self-service training resources to tight deadlines, or simply prefer to entrust part or all of the content generation to a third party, and we cater to those needs with Arivanza Services. From storyboarding and course production to copywriting and voice-over services in multiple languages, through graphic and audio-visual production, if there’s anything our clients need, we do our best to provide it.
With Arivanza Market we intend to take Arivanza Services to the next level by creating a market platform where best-in-class third party providers can extend the range of services offered. The customer will be able to choose the type of service required, for instance creating a simple game in HTML5 about a specific subject, get in touch with providers that can offer that type of service, negotiate the cost of the service and complete the transaction receiving the deliverable directly to their Arivanza Create account. Although there are already many different online markets to find suppliers offering graphic design, audio, etc., we think that the key advantage of our approach is the verticality offered and the seamless integration with Arivanza Create. Customers will be able to select from suppliers specialised in the education arena and receive assets ordered directly in the tool they use to create content.
However this picture is not yet complete until the educator can have visibility over the content shared with the students. What differentiates a student that gets good marks on a test from those that fail? Does the way students go over the content make a difference to the results obtained? How many times does each student (re)view a video?
Arivanza Learn will provide all these answers. Arivanza Learn will be all about learning analytics, starting with the simplest indicators that provide tangible value to educators. Arivanza Learn will allow educators to publish their courses wherever they want and in multiple formats.
KITE: For users that are not the most ‘tech savvy’, how does Arivanza assist those customers?
Arivanza: This facet is one of Arivanza’s key USPs. We design our products with precisely those users that are not technically savvy in mind. In Arivanza Create for instance, course design is based on a set of templates and themes. Users can, with just one click, select the right template for the content they want to add, change the theme, add a video from YouTube, synchronise text and audio content, etc.
All templates are designed by UI experts that take responsibility for defining colour combinations, layouts, fonts types and font weights, and many other variables that have a significant impact on quality and usability. This approach frees our customers to focus on the area in which they are experts: the content.
In essence, this is a similar approach to the one that WordPress took in the online content publishing industry: make it dead simple for users to create visually sophisticated content without having to worry about aspects they know little or nothing about. Provide tools that empower the user instead of making them feel inadequate or require too much effort to use them effectively.
KITE: How does Arivanza differentiate itself from that of its main competitors?
Arivanza: Our competitors can be broadly placed into three separate categories, based on their market strategy.
First, there are the traditional dominant providers of learning management or production tools that enjoy a high level of penetration in the mature US market, yet have been slow to completely adapt their products to the online arena and SaaS licensing models.
Second, there are market outsiders who are lately seeking to use their dominant position in other markets to offer suites of tools for online learning production however, e-learning authoring is not the primary focus of these players and, in the case of big players like Google and Apple, their emergence in fact opens up new potential technology marketplaces for Arivanza Create.
Lastly, there are online authoring tools (often based outside the US), which are seeking to break into the e-learning market by leveraging online, SaaS models. These typically use service provision to drive take up for their online authoring tools but avoid existing app markets in favour of pursuing their own proprietary development roadmap.
Our market strategy is radically different, in that instead of overtly attempting to lock customers’ e-learning production into one walled garden, it seeks to exploit synergies with existing, best-in-class content platforms and marketplaces – much in the same way that the Arivanza e-learning platform seamlessly allows users to centralise, capitalise upon and optimise their existing learning assets, ensuring that Arivanza courses are more powerful, effective and portable than the sum of their parts.
Our products are designed to democratise e-learning production, drastically lowering the technical and financial entry barriers to achieving top quality, engaging and sophisticated content for today’s rich media-savvy students. All Arivanza Create content complies with SCORM/AICC standards, meaning that unlike other solutions on the market it is an agile solution compatible with any LMS platform or HTML5-compatible device. Customers can repurpose assets for new languages, learning formats or student groups with a minimum investment of time and cost.
KITE: By next year Arivanza aims to launch the Market and Learn units. Please shed light on the business plan and goals following the launch of these other units. Ideally, where does the company see itself in the next two to five years?
Arivanza: With Arivanza Create our customers have a powerful tool to create engaging content, however the circle is not closed until we offer them a means to self-publish and analyse how the students interact with the content, and a marketplace that offers interesting, high quality e-learning services (theme designers, audio-visual producers, content providers, gaming specialists, translators, voice-over artists etc.) that customers will be able to buy direct from their accounts, and seamlessly incorporate into Arivanza Create courses.
Before end of this year we expect to have a working prototype of Arivanza Learn and by end of Q1 2015 open a closed beta version to handpicked customers whose courses offer a wide range of learning scenarios through a broad spectrum of industries. We believe Arivanza Learn will require a short amount of time to show its full potential and we are convinced it will become the keystone of our strategy going forward.
Arivanza Market however will require more time to take off, as it requires building partnerships and complete the required integrations with best-in-class service providers that offer a differential value for the Education sector.
In the next two to five years we see Arivanza as a fully-fledge e-learning platform. Although platform is becoming a trending term that will surely become overused – if it isn’t already – we are certain that is exactly what we are building in the upcoming years: a set of products and services that cater to different but related needs, which are highly integrated to each other and to many complementary third party services, which offer a unified UX and allow the user to complete a task that has meaningful value to him/her from start to finish.
KITE: In line with the question above, how do you envision Arivanza’s relationship with investors over the next few years?
Arivanza: We think it only makes sense to bring investors aboard when your ambition is to hit it out of the park, when the idea is big enough and the team behind it strong enough to challenge big players, reshape markets and grow to become a successful multinational. We believe that Arivanza has the idea and the team behind it to offer that opportunity.
We’ve remained quite isolated from the world (so to speak) for the last couple of years while building our first product, Arivanza Create. Although we were approaching potential customers and seeking feedback for the product we were building, we did not start approaching investors until last month (June).
We are making our approach now with a clear objective in mind: we are looking for more than just money. We understand that we are responsible for taking the ship to port; however, it’s a long trip and every asset needs to be made to count. In this sense, we value partners with experience in scaling operations, key contacts with big potential clients, market know-how almost as much as the monetary investment made.
KITE: As a start-up company seeking investment what have been some of your biggest surprises and challenges?
Arivanza: There isn’t much that can be said at this point given that our experience with investors is quite limited. Our first presentation to investors was in a forum in Madrid last month (June) and bearing in mind that this was our first call made, we thought it prudent to keep our expectations low. We were nevertheless pleasantly surprised by the attention we generated in the days that followed.
However, this pleasant surprise has also brought with it a significant challenge. Raising money requires time, a big chunk of quality time to work on presentations, metrics, financial forecasts, etc. Fitting that in into a 10-hour schedule dedicated to product development, client prospection, team management, sales proposals and making deliveries to paying customers is a big challenge that we have yet to solve. Nevertheless, we are on it.
KITE: Lastly, how did you enter this sector? What was the catalyst behind the creation of Arivanza and merging education and technology?
Arivanza: In 2011 we were invited to respond to an RFP for a project at Philip Morris International. They needed a more economic way of producing scalable e-learning content in more than 20 languages.
The solution we proposed at the time was a bespoke application that would allow PMI affiliates in 25 territories to generate visually attractive, multimedia and multilingual e-learning courses, reducing their costs by half and maximising return on investment.
PMI approved the project and we successfully completed it one year later. Based on the lessons learnt, we then threw ourselves into building a product that would offer the same advantages to any company in the world. The result is Arivanza Create.