The Push for eLearning Continues as LearnUpon Raises $56 Million for LMS

Online learning is a hot topic right now. eLearning has always held value for schools and businesses. While it was important before, COVID-19 pushed it to the forefront. Now, organizations must find ways to teach remotely or they could fall behind.

Learning platforms saw a spike in enrollment since the first shelter in place rules were instated. An infographic published by Udemy found that enrollment in graphic design was up 100% while photography was up 127% and Adobe Illustrator was up 326%. Those increases only include the United States. Guitar learning increased 431% in Italy while communication skills classes are up 606% in India.

Brazil, Australia, Canada, France, the UK, and other countries were also listed, each with topics that had an enrollment increase of 100% or more.

The business world has embraced the shift to virtual learning, reaping the benefits of both its increased safety during a pandemic and the money-saving potential. The desire for better eLearning solutions creates an opportunity to fund new development.

LearnUpon LMS Expands Its Horizons with New Funding

On October 20th, LearnUpon CEO Brendon Noud announced a $56 million minority investment from Summit Partners. The growth equity firm was founded in 1984 and has grown into a team of over 100 professionals and 27 managing directors.

The firm’s website boasts investments of $10 million to $500 million per company and is currently managing over $21 billion in assets. They focus on three key sectors, including healthcare, growth products, and technology.

Summit Partners has provided funding for many well-known businesses including Avast, Uber, Reverb, Smartsheet, Arista, and WebEx.

LearnUpon is the latest addition after the LMS showed promise through continued growth. Noud’s announcement revealed that LearnUpon’s revenue increased by 50% or more YoY for the past 12 quarters.

The investment also adds Summit Partners Principal Antony Clavel to the LearnUpon Board of Directors.

Clavel shared a statement with the team that pointed to corporate learning as a key requirement for organizations. He also explained that:

“The added challenge of remote working has only accelerated the importance of delivering learning digitally. With its modern, cloud-based learning management system, strong product development organization, demonstrated dedication to customer success, and capital efficient go-to-market model, we believe LearnUpon is strongly positioned to serve this growing and increasingly critical market need.”

Becoming a Modern LMS in a Post-Pandemic World

The team at LearnUpon has embraced the opportunity to expand its offerings and grow its user base. The official blog includes a post written by Head of Marketing Mark Hatton, who begins by stating that the LMS is “in the midst of a revolution.”

He discusses previous updates to the platform, also mentioning that some were more a brand refresh than a product update. However, this time around, they are working on “something revolutionary.”

Hatton attributes the significant change to two things. He cites a shift in company culture through clearer vision and more ambitious goals as well as a need for adaptation in the corporate world. By listening to their users, blog readers, and experts, the team is working toward a different online training experience with branding that reflects the new LearnUpon.

Visually, the LMS looks more modern with a blue color scheme and rounder design. The site also showcases the real people behind the LMS, which does well to add a human element to the platform.

Summit Partner’s website announced the news and stated that the investment is LearnUpon’s first major capital raise. Funds will be used to hire employees, execute future product updates, and meet increasing customer demand.

The company currently employs 180 people with plans to grow the engineering and product teams into areas that include data analytics. They also plan to provide customers more insight into how training material can be used. LearnUpon will also expand its sales team to bring the platform to more people in regions where it is fast-growing, including the United States.

LearnUpon is based in Dublin, however, 70% of its business comes from the U.S. market. The team already serves around 1,000 customers globally. The LMS was profitable before and only raised $1.5 million, so the $56 million in funding could mean big things for its future.

“We’ve been growing organically pretty fast since we started but especially for the last 4 to 5 years using a SaaS model, but now we’re at a scale where opportunity is vast, especially with more people working from home,” said Noud.

The Corporate eLearning Market Continues to Grow

While the academic world struggled to find solutions that would fill gaps earlier in the pandemic, the business world fared a little better. There was already an established market for eLearning. Companies have used online training for years, including third-party selling. Courses on customer training, personnel development, onboarding, products, and more already exist.

Valuates Reports estimated that the corporate eLearning market value had risen to $64.4 billion last year, with a prediction that it will grow CAGR 9.16% over the next five years.

The report mentioned several influencing factors like a desire to reduce employee training costs, adoption of microlearning, better technology, and the use of instructor-led training. And that was before the global pandemic added urgency to the existing need for improved online training options.

Growth isn’t easy in the eLearning industry. Noud also pointed to the fact that it’s a very crowded space, with possibly over 1,000 LMSs already out there and vying for user attention.

According to Noud, LearnUpon only has between 10 and 15 direct competitors including TalentLMS, Docebo, 360Learn, Epignosis, and Cornerstone. That’s still a lot of competition to overcome in this fast-growing sector.

The competition will likely become fiercer over time, especially as others begin to move into the space. Professional social network LinkedIn has started to drift into learning. Meanwhile, companies that were previously academic-only like Kahoot and Coursera are also entering the business training market.

LearnUpon claims a leg up on platforms that didn’t start out in the corporate arena. Noud explains that their platform is more comprehensive. Users have more options like running live or on-demand classes. The LMS can also accommodate multiple types of students, including customers, partners, and employees.

Other products are narrower in their scope, offering less flexibility and adaptability.

He also emphasizes LearnUpon’s focus on customer experience.

“And the legacy platforms are overly bloated, with bad customer support, which was a key area for us,” Noud said. “Our first hire was in customer support, and that has carried through to how we have grown.”

One area that LearnUpon is lacking is in content development. Features allow users to build surveys and tests. Content can be imported from third-party authoring tools. This is by design, according to Noud. They are not in the business of building a live teaching platform. Instead, LearnUpon provides the infrastructure needed to bring learners and content together.

This is a big milestone for LearnUpon and could set the stage for further investment in the development of online training.