The local entrepreneur behind recruitment tool Zept and email newsletter service Mailout has launched a venture called Llearner, a new way to keep track of and share your books, podcasts, courses, training, and more.
Gregg Oldring, CEO and co-founder, said the idea was born out of discussions within Zept while the team was looking for innovative ways to connect with students.
"We were thinking about just how annoying it is to find podcasts, how we really like Strava as a gamification app that rewards positive, healthy activity, and we noticed that there isn't something like that for education," explained Oldring.
The concept of Pinterest-style curation also appealed to him, he said.
"There's this really great opportunity to create, to discover, and to share what we're learning with each other."
Whether its users looking for the next book or podcast or employers tracking employee training, the goal of Llearner is to enable people from all over the world to connect, he said.
While the idea initially was to target Llearner to students, Oldring and fellow co-founders Jon Larson and Kevin Horek quickly realized they wanted to be able to use it themselves and open it up to others for a multitude of purposes.
Oldring and Horek built the program using a no-code development platform, which enabled them to create the software without using traditional computer programming.
"We're just seeing if people use it. We're spending maybe $500 a month on software, rather than having a team of developers that are building and maintaining a platform, and that difference is really substantial," Oldring said.
Oldring and his team haven't officially announced the company, but it quietly went live online earlier this year. In the meantime, they've also launched a podcast called The Learner.co Show, where you can listen to groundbreaking leaders discuss what they have learned and the resources that helped shape their journey.
Moving forward, the team is aiming to raise a pre-seed round of $1 million, some of which would go toward hiring a software developer, but they still plan to use the no-code platform.
"I'd love for people to come and try it out. It's a little rough, but we'd love to hear what people have to say about it," Oldring said.
And as Llearner ramps up, Oldring will be wrapping up Zept over the next few weeks, due to the challenges of running a business connected to post-secondary education during the pandemic.
"Frankly, after pushing the road for two years, I didn't have the energy to fire it up again," he said.
"The thing about entrepreneurship is there's so many unknowns ... and that is part of what is interesting and exciting about doing a startup."