How Mindflash Disrupted Itself by Taking Training Software to the Web

12/13/11Follow @wroush

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make course authoring fast and easy. “It takes 10 minutes to get from a PowerPoint document on your desktop to having a Web-hosted Mindflash course,” says Wells. “Within hours you can have employees enlisted and have the system reporting back to you. That is not the case for our older product, and it’s not the case for a lot of the other companies in the learning management system marketplace.”

When building a course is so easy, anyone who happens to be an authority on something can do it. “Organizations have subject-matter experts at all levels, and we wanted to put a product out there that really allows an organization to capture and leverage that experience,” Wells says. In companies where employees can take advantage of technology to share knowledge with each other, she says, everyone is in a stronger position to get their jobs done.

Indeed, Wells argued in a recent op-ed for Fast Company that better training software could be one cure for the perceived “skills gap” behind the glut of unfilled positions inside U.S. companies—3 million at last count, at a time when 14 million Americans remain unemployed. Businesses can’t wait for the education system to close this gap, Wells said. “Our economy’s open positions aren’t necessarily a perfect fit for our unemployed workers,” she wrote. “Rather than simply wishing that mismatch away, businesses need to embrace training to reduce it.”

In the end, Mindflash is betting that it can charge less for its new training technology and make it up on volume, in the words of the old dot-com cliché. “The vision of the investors, and it’s certainly my own as well, is that we’re now opening up the market not just to the 1,000 potential customers for a $50,000 piece of learning management software, but in theory to every small business owner in the country who’s got training needs,” Wells says. “The model is that we’ll sell $200 or $300 a month in software to tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of companies. And when we get there, we will have a higher-margin business.”

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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  • Joe Goldberg

    I have no doubt Mindflash will be a success with Donna Wells as its CEO.

  • PO Salmon Creek

    I don’t think one company can “cannibalize” another unless they are subsidiaries, otherwise it is just old fashion competition – w”who can make a better mousetrap.” “Cannibalize” …. to quote the classic movie The Princess Bride, “You keep using that word, but I don’t think you know what it means.”