What did the year 2014 bring?

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We are reaching the end of 2014 - a year that brought big steps forward for TrainedOn, even if it felt like a big rollercoaster ride sometimes. Looking back at where have we been a year ago, we have a smile on our face when seeing regular user activity in TrainedOn and increased anticipation to build it further.Behind the scenes the past year was almost entirely spent in remote working by our team, which brought new challenges to tackle. In this post we want to reflect on what have we achieved, and what have we learnt about the market and running our company.

At a glance:

  • TrainedOn has grown from almost zero to more than 600 users Europe-wide. We launched our private beta in January, and kept refining it until we opened for public in May.
  • We have shifted the business direction from building a platform with an online training material marketplace to focus on building a Software-as-a-Service application that helps trainers to get their work done effectively.
  • As we learnt more about what users valued about the product, we revamped our landing page to reflect on our core value proposition: TrainedOn liberates you in the process of planning a training – At the end of the day you will have more focus and energy left for the human interaction that enables learning to happen.
  • We introduced a pricing model that helps us building a sustainable business which can offer both free option for casual users as well as paid subscription for more demanding customers.

Most importantly we learned from our customers on the way, and understood that the core of our intuitive schedule builder tool is rather a nice-to-have at the moment. It was interesting to talk to trainers from various fields. We saw the different approaches to making training plans which taught us that having more knowledge about a training topic and making less of a bespoke training does not require so much planning and scheduling. This led us to realise that we need to support other parts of the trainer workflow to make TrainedOn really valuable for educators.

In the meantime we also received a lot of positive feedback, to highlight one of our first testimonial:

“TrainedOn cleansed training planning into a pure creative process: a real flow experience”.

It often highlighted how the Training Planner makes the process of schedule building much easier and more pleasant to handle. Ultimately, this also made us wonder if other professions could be helped by a simple-to-use scheduling tool.

Behind the scenes, our teamwork certainly got more complicated after leaving the lively office of Startup Wise Guys in Tallinn. We learnt a lot about remote working, and – as remote working becomes a popular trend nowadays – we had great resources to seek inspiration from, like Basecamp or Groove.

In fact one the biggest challenge was to synchronize our work, since each of us was working only part-time for TrainedOn.

Overlapping in time and regular communication is critical, and the two main solutions that worked for us well were:

  • Dividing our team of 5 to two smaller teams: a customer and a product end, so the smaller teams could work organize themselves easier and maintain a more intense communication
  • Live meetings from time to time: we had two occasions when the whole team met live for a week, both to keep up the team spirit and to set a strategy for the upcoming period. Nevertheless in retrospect we learnt that meeting every 3-4 months and not later is critical to keep up the momentum within the team. Additionally it’s been extremely useful to have an external facilitator who understands our team and business. We are grateful to Steve for helping as our advisor in 2014.

With each team member having other duties to fulfill while doing TrainedOn we were challenged to handle the different and varying level of our commitment. The dynamic equity adjustment method described in the Slicing the Pie book of Mike Moyer provided a well-functioning framework to keep a fair system to account for our investments (mostly time) necessary to build TrainedOn.

To counter the challenges, we were also lucky to have amazing people around us. We are grateful to all the people who offered us their help during the past year, everyone using TrainedOn to create training plans and providing valuable feedback, plenty of mentors and people generously offering their time, expertise and introductions to help us, as well as friends and family for their support.

Now that 2015 is standing at the door, we feel motivated to keep building TrainedOn by adding the features we learnt our users want, and make a leap so TrainedOn becomes the essential tool for supporting trainers in creating high-quality training.

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