OpenSesame, an e-learning marketplace for employee training, has just raised major financing with a view to developing an iTunes-type business model for company-based training courses.

OpenSesame aims to become no.1 e-learning platform for companies

Online training has made great strides among both students and companies, making it easier to follow higher-level education and pursue lifelong learning. Meanwhile Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have started to diversify because of the various tools – tablets, smartphones and other devices – now available that make it easier to share learning content and allow a more interactive approach to training. As technologies continue to advance, company employees need to adapt constantly and keep up their skills through ongoing training. This is the opportunity that OpenSesame intends to seize. The platform is the world’s largest source of online learning programs geared to employee training. The Portland, Oregon-based company aims to make buying and selling online courses and learning materials as easy as buying a song or a film on iTunes, i.e. it wants to be the marketplace that provides the best offer range for a company wishing to purchase courses without having to pay for a subscription or expensive licensing fees.

Convenient platform geared to various LMS

The OpenSesame platform currently hosts more than 20,000 courses from over 300 vendors. Companies can preview course content, read comments from other buyers and find out more about the company which is offering a particular course. OpenSesame allows the vendor to decide the price of its own courses and then takes a commission on the sale of each program. However, the real added value of the platform lies in its technology, which is designed to ensure that courses can be delivered through any Learning Management System (LMS). Companies use a wide range of different LMS platforms to organize and manage their company training courses and those offered on OpenSesame are now compatible with around 75% of them. The company stands out from other MOOCs with its sophisticated sales mechanism. Essentially it works like an e-commerce store where customers can buy ‘à la carte’, at affordable prices and enjoy a flexible service.

Exponential growth

The platform is currently working with over a hundred corporate customers, some of them very large, such asUS direct-broadcast satellite service provider DISH Network (with 34,000 employees) and business information specialist Dun & Bradstreet (4,600 employees). As part of its drive to become the largest single marketplace for online company-oriented learning programs, OpenSesame this week announce it had raised $8 million in Series A funding in a round led by venture capital firm Partech Ventures. The funds raised will be used to beef up the company’s sales and marketing resources and also take forward its technical capabilities as the company continues to invest in product development. OpenSesame General Manager Joshua Blank reveals that the company, which is currently seeing 200% revenue growth per month, hopes to at least maintain this level of expansion with its new investments and the development of a series of products – in particular mobile products – planned for this year.

By Manon Garnier