“Most e-learning is really, really boring,” says BranchTrack cofounder Sergey Snegiryov. “It’s basically PowerPoint converted to an online format.”
Snegiryov should know – for the last five years he has been running an e-learning company, selling “PowerPoint in disguise” to big companies in his native Latvia.
Now he and his business partner Raivis Freimanis are setting out to change the industry by developing a tool that allows e-learners to train using realistic customer simulations.
BranchTrack is essentially a flow chart creator. It allows users make branching narratives in order to play out possible scenarios.
That might sound dull, but think of it this way: BranchTrack lets anyone produce their own tiny play, complete with interactive dialogue delivered by a choice of 37 different actors, including an animated Mark Zuckerberg. Interactive fiction fans will be licking their lips in anticipation.
Snegiryov and Freimanis were encouraged to create BranchTrack by their experience in e-learning. “Customer simulations always were a ‘hot’ product,” says Snegiryov. “We started looking for tools to optimise production and ended up with building our own. Then we made it public.”
BranchTrack is currently in beta and being given away for free. Snegiryov and Freimanis have succeeding in attracting around 1000 users, including HR managers from companies such as Hyatt Hotels and Ford Motors.
“They build all kinds of things,” says Snegiryov. “They love building handling angry customers. You can’t just teach a person how to handle a difficult customer without giving them an opportunity to try it. We’re providing a safe environment to try different approaches.”
The challenge now for BranchTrack is to turn that initial interest into lasting, monetised success. “We have a great product with a fascinating roadmap, and we have our beta users. Now, how do we market it, how do we hack growth?” says Snegiryov.
Find out more on the BranchTrack website.
Impetus to get started
I’ve always been a huge fan of “stop talking, start doing” approach to life. Also, I wanted to try building a product-oriented business – it is a nice change of pace when compared to my previous service-oriented business.
Biggest barrier to success
Most of our users, partners and potential investors are in US, so being based 10 hours ahead of California is tough!
Advice for other startups
Don’t get too excited with your own product. A great product without users is worth much less than a mediocre product with a lot of users.