Babak Barkhodaei spoke about the power of three brothers working towards a common goal. He’s the CEO of Toronto-based e-learning startup SkyPrep, and the oldest of the three founding brothers. Younger brother Sep is the company’s product manger while middle brother Arash is the CTO.
“We are dedicated to each other in business and friendship, trust is essential in a startup,” said Babak.
SkyPrep’s e-learning platform launched in January 2013 following a beta period to ensure ease of use. It hit 100,000 learners this month. Clients range from the YMCA to the Buffalo Bills. It’s particularly popular with HR departments that need ongoing staff training.
While company is experiencing a 14 percent monthly growth in paying clients, the brothers were quick to emphasize that it has been an evolution, not an explosion.
Previously Babak and Arash launched a training course for aspiring police officers. They were able to make enough money to both work on it full time, but they were dependent on police officers to create a quality product (and neither of them were subject matter experts). They thought about verticals such as firefighters and paramedics, but something unexpected was happening – repeated enquiries from people wanting to buy their platform to run their own online courses.
Shortly thereafter a new business idea was born that played on their expertise: creating and managing an e-learning platform.
Sep joined the new company and the three brothers started building a new e-learning platform. “We built it from scratch to be a cloud based platform that solves the pain points we had. SkyPrep is the platform we wished we had to run our course,” said Arash.
The e-learning space was worth $50 billion in 2013 and is expected to reach $100 billion by 2015. With so much potential CEO Babak is focusing the team on what has made them successful – small to medium sized organizations. “I’m on the phone with clients everyday. Smaller businesses are under-serviced and the personal touch we give is appreciated. We’ve walked in their shoes and as a result most of our growth is from referrals.”
“We had our own office but it’s inspiring to be surrounded by other entrepreneurs, and now we learn from them everyday. Plus we now have a view of the CN Tower,” said Babak.
For this familial trio the sky is the limit.
(Stavros Rougas is founder at MediaSpotMe