Sramana Mitra: Let’s do the Entrepreneurs Journeys story. When did you step out of your Google affiliation and start this company?
Janine Yancey: In 2004 or 2005. I was still practicing law through the end of 2005. I had formally started Emtrain as a corporation because I’m a lawyer so it’s an easy enough thing for me to do. Emtrain was on the books as early as 2000, but it was in name only. Then in 2006, a few of us jumped into actually doing it as a full-time occupation.
Sramana Mitra: What was the first version of what you put together and what you released? How did you get
the company off the ground? In today’s parlance, we would call it the minimum viable product. At that time, the terminology was not yet in use.
Janine Yancey: I wrote out a script for an e-learning course. A few of us took a couple of cameras and some lights and shot some video scenes. We worked with an outside team to help put together a learning platform, because we realized that we needed a learning platform to launch and track the e-learning content.
The existing platforms that were available were too robust and too complicated for our stakeholders. Our stakeholders are usually the HR generalists. That role often lacks resources and technical talent. They have to wear a few different hats. I wanted to create a platform that was super easy for that role to use.
Sramana Mitra: What was in the content? What was the course about?
Janine Yancey: The first course that we did was an anti-harassment course. I just took my live training material and modified it so it would be appropriate for a web-based experience. Like I said, we shot a set of video scenes.
Sramana Mitra: What was your relationship with your clients? Were they going to be paying clients? What was the model in which you were going out to market?
Janine Yancey: It was probably a little bit easier than other entrepreneurs, because I had my legal clients. All of our first round of clients were actually my law clients.
Sramana Mitra: Was your specialization sexual harassment law then?
Janine Yancey: It’s employment law generally. A lot of employment law is sexual harassment, discrimination, and bias.
Sramana Mitra: It sounds like you picked that around which to build your course because you had a lot of clients who were dealing with that issue?
Janine Yancey: Yes, that’s fair to say that.
Sramana Mitra: Your clients were corporations who were tackling employment legal issues. Were they going to subscribe to your product and were their employees all studying this course or was it for just HR managers?
Janine Yancey: It has always been the employees. When I was doing this as a live trainer, you conduct a classroom workshop within the company. I had been doing that. I took that model and just put it on the web. It was asynchronous learning.