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Deal Radar 2008: Neulio

Posted on Tuesday, Dec 23rd 2008

My most recent Forbes column challenged entrepreneurs to develop technologies to enable the delivery of educational materials to all learners, even those whose only platform is an inexpensive handset. Today’s Deal Radar post looks at technology in education from another angle: in communities where the use of rich media for learning purposes has already gained critical mass, how can entrepreneurs help educators and learners tap its full potential by offering infrastructure solutions? One company tackling this question is Orlando-based Neulio, an educational video platform and hosting provider.

Founded in 2007 by George Colombo, a noted customer relationship management (CRM) expert, Neulio came into being when Colombo was asked to research options for a platform to host continuing education content by a client. When Colombo couldn’t find anything, he decided to build the platform to cater to this market segment. The company was originally a joint venture between Colombo and Rick Parks, a seasoned software entrepreneur, but Colombo bought Parks’ interest in the company in September 2007.

As online media continues to assume greater importance in e-learning for business and educational institutions, it is crucial that content be easy to create, upload, find, organize and use. Platforms such as YouTube have made uploading, sharing and controlling access to video content a straightforward process. Neulio’s platform aims to go a step further from a pedagogical perspective, make it easier to deploy social media and user-generated content for training and learning by organizing online video, PowerPoint and audio content into volumes and chapters which can be accessed from any browser. Neulio’s volumes/chapters/gates structure is unique and has been developed to make segmenting, searching for and finding information easier. Modules such as quizzes have been designed to help ensure learners are absorbing content. Further, the platform has features such as sharing, rating, tagging and commenting.

The company’s original business model was a free, open-to-the-public web site where users could publish multi-part, multimedia content, with the subscription model as an upgrade to the free version. Neulio later changed its strategy and positioned itself as a business solution. It charges a subscription fee for the use of the service, along with a relatively nominal charge for metered storage and bandwidth.

There are three levels of service, with a focus on small to medium business customers and departmental solutions. The Bronze level provides straightforward social media publishing and is priced at $49 per month. The Silver level lets customers charge users for content and is priced at $149 per month. Finally, the Gold level of service provides advanced reporting for those who want to use Neulio for compliance training and is priced at $249 per month.

The company got early traction through its affiliation with the University of Central Florida’s incubation program, which Neulio says helped get valuable feedback on the platform as well as some early customers. Today, its customers include Seminole Community College and Daytona State College in Florida. The company did not provide any revenue information and said it is at too early a stage to provide profitability and growth numbers.

Neulio has remained privately funded up to now. The company is currently looking for angel investors but given the economic downturn, refrained from providing a time frame. Apart from investment, the company is also looking to complete its management team. Neulio acknowledged that the team building is dependent on the angel investment.

My sense is that they need to continue bootstrapping for a long time yet, and in the long run, they will emerge stronger by operating in that mode. Now is not a good time to raise money, and it seems like they have been successful with bootstrapping so far.

Related Readings:
* Deal Radar 2008: Regent
* Deal Radar 2008: Studywiz Spark
* Education & Technology: Now Is the Time – HotChalk CEO Edward Fields (Part 1)

This segment is a part in the series : Deal Radar 2008


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I’m thrilled to read about your article on “Edutainment” Needs Entrepreneurs. You are describing exactly what Edutainment Resources, Inc. is doing. Finally we have people of your statute to be our voice. We started about 4-5 years ago to develop edutainment resource materials for learning English as a second language (ESL) multimedia. For many years, languages have been learned around the world as a subject, focusing on vocabulary, grammar and tests. Students after years of learning still can’t effectively use the language to carry out simple conversations. Our goal is to produce engaging multimedia materials to motivate learning and improve communication using English globally. We completed in 2006 a series of interactive, media rich and video-game intuitive ESL DVDs trademarked as PencilBot. Our product design includes fun-filled activities in bite-sized, visually striking and addictive modules that leave students wanting more. We piloted the materials in China and U.S. and received very positive validation from teachers, students and language experts alike.

You mentioned about mobile delivery in your article. That’s exactly what we are doing presently. On Dec 12, 2008, we launched 3 PencilBot ESL iPhone Apps in countries where iPhone is presently available and had a very strong opening weekend. For the first week, PencilBot ESL App was on the top 20 paid educational apps in several App Stores including those in France, Italy, Taiwan and Vietnam.

From the start, we had a big vision to bring the Edutainment approach in language learning via digital media to help learners around the world. Along the way, we had many challenges, with lack of funding and overcoming the traditional grammar-focused and test-driven mentality being the biggest ones. I strongly believe what we are doing can make a difference in millions of people’s lives – if we can all communicate better, the world will be a much better place!

Lishan Wednesday, December 24, 2008 at 2:28 PM PT

Whoever gets into this market has to have something really special to charge successfully for it.

With eduslide.com, we’ve already created an open source and online free public product for creating, sharing and delivering educational content – it’s very hard to charge for services like this, and compete with the likes of moodle, sakai etc, so we didn’t. Instead we use it as a way of marketing content we produce (for example the VTC software training library), and for software customisation requests. Much easier than competing head on with the many other open source apps!

mark vernon Friday, January 2, 2009 at 9:21 AM PT