January 23, 2018

Click and learn with Oppia

Skills pay the bills for both companies and their employees, and Oppia can help acquire them.
Istock.com/skynesher

In this day and age, lifelong learning isn’t just a fun hobby – it’s also a necessity for both people and corporations in order to stay up to date with what’s going on. Finnish website Oppia.fi offers a source for better skills.

How do you administer training courses for thousands of people with just half a handful of admin staff? Years ago, Petri Väyrynen and his consulting company Wakaru repeatedly faced this question from customers.

“We didn’t want to have a huge admin team,” he says. “We train companies about ICT service management as well as project management and governance, so it would’ve looked like the shoemakers’ children going barefoot.”

Instead of pairs of arms, Wakaru created an ERP (enterprise resource planning system), an automated process for handling all possible aspects of organising a training event. As clients purchasing training took note of the efficiency, Väyrynen started to think herein might also lie a business opportunity.

Around the same time, he noticed that even big corporations were beginning to look for small and agile training providers.

Petri Väyrynen

Petri Väyrynen

Mirja Vainio/Wakaru

With changing technology and rapidly increasing digital tools, more and more specific knowledge and information are needed.

“We figured it’d make sense to bring both big and small training houses together in a cost-effective way.”

So they did. In April 2016, the website Oppia.fi was launched. It’s a platform that combines the logic of an online store and the ERP Wakaru initially created for its in-house needs.

Currently it operates as a separate business unit under Wakaru, but there are plans to set up a separate company that focusses exclusively on Oppia’s offering.

Next up: neighbours

Now, the Finnish version has two siblings: a subsidiary in Estonia and a company with a couple of partners in Sweden. Väyrynen points out that the training market, especially when it comes to classroom training, tends to work best when localised. For example, many prefer to study new skills in their native language.

Next, similar portals will be opened in neighbouring countries.

“From Sweden, it’s natural to continue to Denmark and Norway, and from Estonia, we’ll be looking at other Baltic countries,” Väyrynen says.

In huge markets, like Germany or the UK, Oppia won’t establish itself in its Nordic or Baltic form. Instead, Väyrynen sees Oppia as a platform and technology provider for companies that already operate in the field of training.

“Oppia.fi is a business case that proves that the platform works,” he notes.

Competitors become partners

Oppia and its partners are a cheerful team of professionals.

Oppia and its partners are a cheerful team of professionals.

Paula Partanen/Wakaru

As Wakaru is a training provider itself, Oppia also functions as a marketing channel for its offering. At the same time, it provides the same visibility for competitors. Using the platform is free of charge and the money comes from commissions, meaning Wakaru also benefits from the success of its rivals.

Oppia also takes pride in its vast selection of the content and various forms of the training it includes. In Finnish, the portal’s slogan is “Everything is here” (Täältä löytyy kaikki).

“It might not be 100 per cent true right now,” Väyrynen admits. “But in the future, it will be.”

Oppia wants to be sure the courses it sells are of high quality. Technically anyone can set up a course and sell it on the platform, but if it starts receiving lousy feedback, Wakaru will intervene.

However, as an entrepreneur himself, Väyrynen wants to make giving feedback a two-way street. This helps transparency and fairness.

“When we’re talking B2B sales, the buyer’s role shouldn’t be too strong,” he points out. “Just as the trainer has to do a good job, the company being trained should be decent to work with, too.”

Text: Anne Salomäki

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