Women-Owned Mobile Startup Leads Microlearning Revolution
November 5, 2021

This article was originally published on the SAP blog.

Serial entrepreneur, So-Young Kang, is reinventing how people learn, with a personalized, mobile experience. Lightyears ahead of yesterday’s content delivery training, the Gnowbe microlearning mobile platform represents Kang’s life work to make learning easy — for as many people as possible.

“Learning and education have transformed my life, giving me access to valuable mentors and opportunities I’d never have otherwise,” said Kang, founder and CEO at Gnowbe. “I’d like to create a greater consciousness around what learning means. I want to give back that opportunity to anyone who wants it, in the way that makes the most sense to them, whether they’re in a village in a remote community, or a skyscraper in a major city.”

Big dreams from humble beginnings

Kang is the first person in her generation’s family to graduate from college. In fact, she grew up in East Brooklyn, New York, far from the privileged Ivy league halls of Harvard Business School, where she earned her MBA. Gnowbe is Kang’s second startup, following stints with leading global companies in banking and high tech. She came up with the idea after launching her first startup, Awaken Group, a transformation design company.

“We were seeing the impact of our trainings on innovation and design thinking but were limited by the physical size of the classroom. Our clients might have tens or hundreds of thousands of employees,” said Kang. “Mobile microlearning replicates the in-person, human workshop learning experience for many more people at once.”

Digital Learning 2.0 is wow

Kang originally founded Gnowbe in Silicon Valley. She recently launched it in the United States after bringing it to mobile-first regions like Asia and Europe. Organizations can upskill employees on a gamut of short training modules. Most important, employees don’t waste time acquiring irrelevant knowledge.

“Digital Learning 2.0 is MPPG ─ mobile-first, participatory, personalized and group-based,” she said. “People learn by doing, not just by taking in new stuff. Employees love learning on Gnowbe because it’s easy and fast. Organizations see the benefits of greater impact with lower costs.”

About a minute long, each quick burst of knowledge on Gnowbe is packaged for fast consumption anywhere, anytime on someone’s mobile phone. They might watch a short video, take a selfie and upload it, chat with their community of colleagues, or complete a mini quiz. If they’re game, they can join the competitive leaderboard to track their progress against the team. Learners move in and out of personalized learning segments, sharing and applying their newfound knowledge immediately.

The results are impressive. Instead of participant headcounts or feedback scores, Gnowbe measures skills development based on someone’s demonstrable capabilities before and after training. One customer saw improvements of almost 30 percent in the sales behaviors of employees who participated in microlearning modules on Gnowbe.

SAP.iO Foundry is supportive network

Gnowbe is among the HR startups participating in the SAP.iO Foundry San Francisco, an accelerator for early-stage enterprise tech companies. Besides mobile microlearning, these startups are using AI-enabled recruiting, and development tools based on behavioral science. Kang especially valued SAP’s partnership commitment.

“SAP has welcomed us with open arms, reflecting the company’s ecosystem mindset,” she said. “We’re sharing ideas and learning directly from senior-level leadership across SAP, along with other startup founders and venture capitalists.”

She added that Gnowbe is working on getting connected to SAP SuccessFactors, the company’s cloud-based human resource software suite.

Just like in-person training, only better

Company curriculums on the Gnowbe platform include everything from life skills and leadership, to sales training and the latest technologies. It’s easy to create content in minutes, typically 70 to 80 percent faster and less expensive than traditional classroom courses.

Members can also select trainings from Gnowbe Learn, a curated content library designed for mobile learning. In addition, training companies can extend their curriculum with modules on Gnowbe, increasing on-the-job application of classroom learnings. Some companies have improved revenue by up to 30 percent after adding these mobile courses.

Hackathon empowers women

Kang said that Gnowbe is committed to gender inclusivity through recruiting, hiring and development. Fifty percent of employees are women, and half of the leadership team consists of women. Kang is also at the helm of a Hackathon for aspiring female founders, taking place in San Francisco this June.

“People want meaningful engagement with the content that’s most relevant to them,” said So-Young. “Mobile is the most prolific technology we’ve ever seen, and I’m excited about using mobile-first learning to help maximize human creative potential, giving every employee a personalized pathway to a better future.”

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