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Online Education

5 Thought Leaders in Online Education

Posted on Thursday, Oct 20th 2016


Online education and training continue to grow in popularity. It costs less for students to get bachelor’s and master’s degrees online. Employers, too, save money by arranging for employees to take training courses online and on their own time. Through the following interviews with five leaders in online education, you will find a synthesis of the various trends and opportunities that I see at this point.

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Thought Leaders in Online Education: Adrian Ridner, CEO of (Part 1)

Posted on Tuesday, Sep 6th 2016

Adrian started in 2002. Read how the trends in online education have impacted the evolution of a very interesting business. Excellent story.

Sramana Mitra: Let’s start by introducing our audience to What do you do? Where is the company located?

Adrian Ridner: What we try to do is develop the simplest way to learn. We’ve created over 20,000 short, animated video lessons. We’ve organized them all in courses covering major subject areas, all the way from elementary school to college. We’re currently helping over 25 million students and teachers every month to improve their grades and even earn low-cost college credit. We’re located in Mountain View, California and have been bootstrapped since 2002.

Sramana Mitra: How does what you do fit into the context of all the other things that are happening in the online education segment, especially K-12 and college? For example, how does what you offer compare with Khan Academy? >>>

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Bootstrap First to Exit, Bootstrap Again, Then Raise VC Money ALL from St. Louis: Stephanie Leffler, CEO of OneSpace (Part 1)

Posted on Monday, Jul 25th 2016

Stephanie bootstrapped her first company to $20 million in revenue from St. Louis. Her second, also from St. Louis, is venture-funded and crossed $10 million in revenue last year. Awesome entrepreneur, inspiring woman!

Sramana Mitra: Let’s start with the very beginning of your journey. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of background?

Stephanie Leffler: I am from Northern Virginia in Fairfax. I was actually born and raised there. Ultimately, I went to school at Washington and Lee University. I found my way to St. Louis as part of my entrepreneurial journey. I’ve lived here ever since. >>>

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Thought Leaders in Online Education: Felix Odigie, CEO of Inspired eLearning (Part 1)

Posted on Monday, Jun 20th 2016

Inspired eLearning is doing something very effective in Cyber Security education. Read on to learn more.

Sramana Mitra: Give us a little bit of introduction to yourself as well as to the company.

Felix Odigie: I have a background in Computer Engineering. I went to Northeastern University and did my Masters at the Wharton School. The company I run is actually Inspired eLearning. We’re into security awareness and compliance e-learning space. We provide education for the enterprise.

To make that a little simpler for everyone, what we stumbled upon is, it became very difficult for hackers and network intruders to attack network infrastructure because there was a lot of investment in securing networks. The natural place for them to gravitate towards was to hack the individuals who are already inside infrastructure. That was easy. We are susceptible to phishing scams. That was our mission. >>>

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1Mby1M Deal Radar 2016: i-Human Patients, Sunnyvale, California

Posted on Monday, May 23rd 2016

i-Human Patients, Inc. is a cloud-based e-learning company that is focused on rapidly developing and evaluating critical cognitive competencies in healthcare students and practitioners. Its main value proposition is that it simulates encounters with patients in order to teach users how to quickly, accurately, and cost-effectively assess and diagnose patients.


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Startup Idea to Help Women Return to the Workforce

Posted on Monday, May 16th 2016


As I am thinking through the solutions needed to help older engineers reconfigure their careers [Ref. A Startup Idea To Help Older, Laid-off Engineers], I am also thinking about a related issue: older women trying to get back into the workforce.

I know too many talented women who are now in their forties and fifties, and some even in their sixties, looking to start working again. Their travails are gut wrenching. The ten-, twenty-year gaps in their resumes stare back at them like menacing, identity-destroying demons.

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From High School Drop Out to $20M in Revenue: Brad Lea’s Journey with Lightspeed VT (Part 1)

Posted on Monday, May 9th 2016

Brad knows how to sell. Read how he turned that skill in to a $20M revenue business with very little formal education.

Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your journey. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of background?

Brad Lea: I was born in Cottage Grove, Oregon in about 1969. My journey began right there.

Sramana Mitra: Did you grow up in that community?

Brad Lea: Yes, I grew up there until I was 14 years old.

Sramana Mitra: What did you do after that? Where did you move to and how did the journey evolve? >>>

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Some Advice for Laid-Off Engineers

Posted on Tuesday, May 3rd 2016


The year 2009 began for many on an anxious note, on the heels of the 2008 financial crisis. Layoffs were everywhere. Foreclosures stalked them from town to town. By the fall, unemployment in America hit 30 million, over 10% of the population. But life goes on. Bills come in, mortgages come due. Looking for a job in this environment is no doubt a daunting, if not impossible, task. Against this backdrop, I profiled several entrepreneurs who managed to turn adversity into opportunity during the dotcom bust.

Kansas farm girl Michelle Munson is one such entrepreneur. Munson bucked her family’s multi-generational agricultural tradition – raising cattle and growing wheat, corn, and soybeans – to study computer science. After a brief stint at IBM, she went to work for two technology startups in a row. Both went under, and Munson was laid off for no fault of her own.

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Tech Layoffs for 2016 Projected to be Deep – What Happens to 260,000 Highly Skilled Professionals in their 40s and 50s?

Posted on Wednesday, Apr 27th 2016

Following the news on Intel’s layoffs, I read some depressing projections for the rest of the technology industry. Dawn Kawamoto reports in Information Week that 260,000 tech workers will lose their jobs in 2016.

Below are the numbers Dawn has gathered from one Wall Street Analyst’s predictions:

Estimated percentage of jobs to be cut this year: 10% to 15%
Estimated number of cut employees: 1,700 to 2,500

Estimated percentage of jobs to be cut this year: 15%
Estimated number of cut employees: 2,800

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Intel’s Layoffs: What Will Happen to the Older Workers?

Posted on Wednesday, Apr 20th 2016

Intel is about to layoff 12,000 people. This is a company with an enormous amount of intellectual horsepower within its folds. Many with very serious intellectual merit will be out.

The semiconductor industry has shrunk, and there aren’t many employers who can absorb that many highly qualified people.

Last summer, Intel had a layoff, although significantly smaller. Intel has a lot of employees in Oregon, and the cuts impacted that state dramatically. Mike Rogoway (@rogoway) at the Oregon Live did some investigative journalism that highlighted the fact that older employees were let go more easily:

Proportionately, employees in their 50s were three times more likely to lose their jobs than workers in their 30s, according to a document obtained by The Oregonian/OregonLive that tallies every Intel employee in the United States. The company was nearly five times more likely to lay off workers in their 60s than those in their 30s.

“Looking at the impact, in this case only, it clearly has disproportionately affected older workers,” said Portland employment attorney Matthew C. Ellis. But he said that’s not necessarily illegal, nor is it unusual. >>>

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