The TikTok of education: This app teaches courses in 1-minute flat

Learnreel, an invite-only edtech app, teaches courses through short form content in one minute, without any fluff or fuss.
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As attention spans become shorter, traditional long-form courses taught virtually are losing their appeal. Learnreel, a short-form edtech platform where lessons are a minute long instead of an hour, is here to address this problem.

“The success of apps like TikTok proved that short-form, engaging content is here to stay. As every social media platform rushes to copy the short video format, we thought we could apply this to education. Why shouldn’t you be able to learn something in a minute? What if you can develop your knowledge in five minutes a day instead of taking two hours to do it?” asks James Lewis, Co-founder and CEO of Learnreel, when asked about the concept behind this unique platform.

The inception

James studied in the UK, graduating in the midst of the 2008 financial crisis. He recalls many of his university friends losing their jobs within weeks of starting out, and their experienced co-workers becoming redundant. The lessons he learnt in that highly competitive job market have taught him to weather all professional crises.

“I believe those lessons are just as relevant now and will become more relevant as jobs, particularly office jobs, are lost to artificial intelligence. You’ve got to take charge of your own development, embrace continuous learning and upskilling,” he shares with candour.

James’ career has spanned many entrepreneurial roles, from consulting in London to working with the leadership team of a multinational firm in Hong Kong before starting his own companies.

He is particularly interested in the intersection of work, education, and technology, and this shows through the success of the platforms he has built, which have been used by over 20 lakh people.

“It’s incredibly powerful and motivating to have an idea, turn that into a tech product and then get validation that you’re solving real problems and making a difference,” he shares.

It is this commitment to innovation and using technology to make a difference that encouraged him to create Learnreel.

Generally, with online courses, people need to find a course that is relevant to them, watch hours of videos, and also spend money on each course. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) revolutionised the online education industry when they became popular in 2008, but how people learnt in 2008 is not how they learn today.

James believes that Learnreel is the next step in this educational journey. By focusing on mobile first, bite sized educational content from industry experts, with a large variety of both content and creators, they have something to offer everyone, in a short span of just one minute.

“Our vision is that anyone, anywhere in the world can pick up their phone, get access to the best educators and learn the way they want,” says James.

The growth story

The Learnreel team consists of 18 people and is spread across Singapore, Malaysia, India, and the Philippines. With a rough initial investment of $500,000, their app was released in May 2021. Learnreel has tripled its users every month since its launch. In the last five months, they have increased the number of videos that can be watched on their platform by 4000 times.

The name Learnreel signifies exactly what is on offer for the consumer. Learning without any fluff - just directly what you need to know.

James shares, “We think our platform has been quite successful so far. We’ve had a lot of interest from users and creators alike who are searching for a better way to learn and teach. Of course, there’s always more work to be done!”

Currently, the app functions on an invite-only model to maintain its exclusivity. This allows the team to focus on building the best product possible before opening it up completely. Users can sign up at learnreel.com to be added to the waitlist.

The app is available globally and caters to all English-speaking audiences. All age groups are addressed through their plethora of courses, but most Learnreel users are between the ages of 21 and 34. 

Two of their most popular courses are on social media marketing. James believes this is because most people assume that social media marketing is a category that is easy to understand on their own, until they actually try it. On the surface, it seems simple - post something on Instagram, and people will engage with it. In reality, however, there are a lot of analytics and creative strategy that go into making it a success.

Challenges and future plans

When asked about the challenges they have faced in their journey so far, James confidently responds,

“We’re a category maker. There isn’t an app quite like Learnreel yet, so there’s no benchmark for people to compare us to. All challenges are therefore completely new for us. We’re aware and prepared that this is something we’ll continuously face as we grow.”

He adds with a smile, “We’re also coming up against established competitors with more money and history in this field than us. We enjoy the challenge, though! People root for the underdogs.”

Despite challenges, their growth track and willing acceptance from a wide range of users shows they are on the path to attaining success. James proudly shares the amazing feedback received from people telling them they are going in the right direction. The average person spends 1 percent of their time learning but wants to do more, and Learnreel is solving that problem for them.

Striving to improve the user experience is the number one priority for the team at the moment. Aside from that, they are also building more - and different - ways to learn. Some people are auditory learners, others are visual, and James wants Learnreel to work for everyone, regardless of their learning style. 

James signs off by saying, “As an app, we have been global from day one. We’ve been downloaded in every continent. Our team is distributed and we’re always on the lookout for great talent, particularly in our engineering hub in India. So, if you want to build consumer tech that makes an impact, get in touch!”


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Edited by Anju Narayanan

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