This skilling startup gamifies learning into byte-sized nuggets for blue-collar workers

Bengaluru-based startup RAPL has over 40 corporate customers, all of whom use its app to train their blue-collar workers with easily digestible material.

Enterprises struggle with keeping employees up to speed on trends and developments in their industry. Often, it is a matter of time, where workers, saddled with busy schedules, are unable to set aside the time required for upskilling. But Bengaluru-based startup RapL has a fix.

The startup helps companies train their workers with byte-sized learning available on their mobile. RapL, or ‘Rapid Learning’, was founded by Arun Muthukumar and Vikram Ramakrishnan

The duo had worked in corporations for more than a decade each. Vikram worked in Booz for a decade and also had his own chain of schools called C S Academy out of Erode and Coimbatore. He is also NHS-certified medical doctor in the UK. His family has been associated with education for more than four decades. Arun, on the other hand, comes from an engineering background in the US. He had worked in companies like Cisco and Lucent for 15 years.

Together, they set up RapL in 2011.

Arun Muthukumar, Co-founder and CEO, Linkstreet

“RAPL is transforming enterprise learning from a boring, mandated, and ineffective task to an engaging and effective model,” says Arun Muthukumar, Co-founder of RapL, which is registered as Linkstreet Technologies.

Need of the hour

As fast growth is a priority for every enterprise today, capacity building and upskilling of employees is critical to achieve fast growth. However, traditional methods of periodic on-site training or even online courses are at best exercises at one-time learning. One-time assessment methods are ineffective and inadequate for today’s needs. Fast ramp-up of employees and continuous learning and up-skilling are the need of the hour.

Through its mobile micro-learning solution,RapL says it makes learning effective and engaging through a combination of mobile-first approach, personalisation, adaptive AI, gamification, and analytics.

It is offered as an easy-to-adopt software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution that can be launched for thousands of employees in a few days. Employees download the RapL app and get personalised learning of business-critical content like product knowledge, SOPs, sales, customer service, and compliance aspects, and earn points, badges, and rewards based on the leader board.

Arun Kumar explains that RapL helps identify individual knowledge gaps and fix them automatically by spending only five minutes a day, so every employee knows and remembers all the aspects required to do their job well.

“Management gets a real-time knowledge map of the organisation as we collect data every day – something that was never available before,’’ says Arun Kumar.

A passion for education

Arun was working at Cisco, when he met Vikram who had come to the organisation on a consulting engagement for the smart cities project. They discussed leveraging technology for education, especially for kids in small towns and rural areas – to provide access to a good teacher from cities like Bengaluru or Chennai.

What started as a CSR experiment to provide access to good teachers (through live online classes) for rural government school kids extended to IIT coaching classes from Ace/Deeksha in Bengaluru to Tier-II and III towns. That’s how they started up. Given the transformative potential to change lives and the huge opportunity, they quit our jobs and started Linkstreet in 2011.

“We signed up a couple of schools with over a hundred students right away as the school and the parents in Erode town in Tamil Nadu were eager to get their kids trained by a top coaching institute from Bangalore without having to travel,’’ says Arun Kumar, RapL.

The duo invested Rs 1.20 crore raised a pre-Series A round from Faering Capital (Mumbai) in 2014. The company went the enterprise route in 2016 as they realised this could be applied to corporates too as the current enterprise training model of instructor-led, on-site training is highly inefficient and not scalable.

Moreover, there is no real measurement or monitoring of what happens after the training is done and management has no clue of exactly who knows what. “Training today is mostly a namesake checkbox by HR in most organisations. For managers and above, executive courses and online courses are in place. However, for frontline blue-collar workers, there is no effective tech enabled solution in place,’’ says Arun.

Tailor made for blue-collar workers

The company offers the online and mobile learning platform as a SaaS solution on a subscription basis (per user per month) based on volume of users. They have built the tech on native Android, iOS, Angular, and PhP.

RapL currently has found good product-market fit and traction with customers like Shell, Casio, Maersk, L&T, Titan, Myntra, NMC Healthcare, among others. It is now looking to focus on aggressive sales growth and international expansion to be a leading mobile learning and employee engagement solution for frontline employees in large and fast-growing enterprises.

Edtech has largely benefited students for test prep purposes (Byju’s etc.). There are also numerous online platforms like Coursera and Unacademy for continued learning. However, there aren’t much options for blue-collar workers who are in need of upskilling. They have no access to laptops or online courses.

“Our focus is on a simple, engaging, and multilingual mobile solution that is personalised and makes learning fun for thousands of frontline employees. The tech solution (enterprise learning app) along with support to quickly create business critical training content is helping our customers ramp up and up-skill their frontline employees quickly,’’ says Arun.

RapL has helped more than 50,000 workers so far.

RapL has recently forayed outside India with Nike in Singapore/Malaysia, Maersk in China, and NMC Healthcare in the Middle East, and is creating new stories and compelling value proposition for its customers.

By providing a real-time knowledge map on gaps and fixing them automatically, RapL is solving a huge pain point around employee knowledge and productivity through a data, AI, and an analytics-driven approach, resulting in true business transformation.

RapL has over 40 clients at the moment. The company does not want to disclose its revenues but states that it is looking to concentrate on scaling up in the next few years.

(Edited by Evelyn Ratnakumar)


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