Since beginning six years ago with a £10,000 loan and mentoring support from the Government-backed Start Up Loans scheme, the Bradford-based firm’s customised resources have enabled thousands of students and tutors in more than 20 countries to share lessons and access homework.
More recently it has expanded into the corporate sector helping companies and certification bodies deliver broader portfolios of training, management and personal development courses with flexible, tailored platforms.
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Keeping up with changes such as new plugins and the shift to mobile learning, blending with websites and saving staff time spent on manual routine tasks are among other gains seen by the firms.
Clients range from Japanese food chain Wasabi, sport governing body British Weightlifting, The Royal College of Surgeons and official measurement institute The National Physical Laboratory.
Titus founders Sebastian Francis and Mike Bennett decided to go it alone after seeing opportunities while working in the e-learning sector, one of the world’s hot prospects now valued at £146 billion ($190 billion) and growing seven per cent a year.
“It may sound improbable for a company in West Yorkshire to be helping children in Korea, but from day one we have run the business as an international company with no boundaries in terms of time and place of who we can target and reach,” says Francis.
“Titus came about after we saw a gap in the market to work with English speaking international schools. We expanded into further and higher education and now the corporate side.
Titus Learning co-founders Sebastian Francis and Mike Bennett (Image: Handout)
“They have all taught us invaluable lessons about collaborating with people in different organisations and regions.”
Titus’s chosen base tool is Moodle, the general, open source course management system with 165 million users worldwide.
In an increasingly competitive market customising solutions for individual clients remains its unique selling point.
“We focus on offering a specific product for every customer who has a different set of requirements,” explains Francis. “We modify the theme and design to suit an organisation’s branding and tailor the training and support package they produce.
“Undoubtedly gaining our Certified Moodle Partnership status, we’re a partner here in the UK and Hong Kong, was a turning point, bringing us clients and driving our growth.
“We work very closely with Moodle HQ and are now providing the latest Moodle Workplace learning too which fits with our focus on enterprise clients.”
In profit from year one and heading for a £3 million turnover, Titus employs 24. Growth has been 90 percent a year and further funding from the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund to accelerate this still leaves the firm retaining full equity.
Education tech titan moves into workplace training (Image: Handout)
“Our decision not to sell any part of the business has stopped us making reckless decisions,” says Bennett. “It also means we are scaling up a profitable model, rather than spending in the hope it can be monetised later.
“This can mean slower growth so we have had to come up with innovative sales/marketing ideas and focus on customer retention and productivity.”
Technological advances such as secure cloud hosting have helped this and clients typically sign three-year contracts, paying on a per annum basis. “This has helped flatten our cashflow, improve forecasting and made it more affordable for customers,” says Francis.
Opening in Dubai puts Titus in prime position to access the United Arab Emirates market and conveniently midway between Europe and East Asia.
“Our customer base is international and the new office will help no end with that,” says Francis. “Our model is proven, we have put in the hours and it’s paying off.”
Start Up Loans provides fixed interest (six percent) loans and since 2012 has awarded more than 65,000 (and £510 million) with 25,000 of those to women entrepreneurs.