- Category: Top Stories
- Published on Friday, 02 November 2012 01:00
- Written by Nicholas Shannon Kulmac
Whether seeking the effortless shareability of Facebook or the postability of YouTube, countless software companies have tried their hand at bringing the benefits of a social platform to the business world. While few have been successful, the founders of a Ridgefield startup think they may have discovered an effective way to do it.
Mike Hunter and Oca Hoeflein began building KnowledgeVault in 2008 after recognizing a fundamental shift in the way that people were using technology.
“It was the penetration of Google,” recalled Hunter. “People expect everything that they want to know to be available in Google. We also saw this incredible increase in people sharing what they know through YouTube – people going out of their way to build content to share with anybody and everybody who wants it.”
Add to those trends the social media craze and the push toward mobile technology, and you have four elements of digital technology that work swimmingly together in our private lives, but not so well in a professional setting.
As Hunted noted, “You don’t really want your employees posting critical work information to Facebook or YouTube.”
Identifying this as an opportunity, Hunter and Hoeflein used their combined years of experience in business training and consulting to build a product that aggregated all of these digital tools into an intuitive, secure, social business platform.
According to Hunter, KnowledgeVault keeps all interactions private and behind a secure firewall. Its infrastructure includes a learning management system, a fully-featured social media and collaboration platform, a survey builder, email, chat and calendars.
Additionally, it works with mobile apps.
With such a robust infrastructure, Hunter explained, the potential for business development is huge.
“Let’s say we’re mechanics in a shop, and we have a problem. We can take a picture of the problem, post it on a team board and ask an engineer for help. He can reply immediately with what you ought to do and attach some instruction. Then I can take that knowledge and store it in my KnowledgeVault and anybody can search for that answer,” he explained. “And because we have a full-featured rapid course builder in the platform, I can take that knowledge, put it in a course with a quiz and assign all employees to take it. That way I know they understand how to solve that problem.”
Hunter said that this ability to rapidly take content generated daily and use it to create learning is what truly sets KnowledgeVault apart from the competition.
“It’s taking the natural interactions that people have in terms of problem solving and being able to repurpose it so that everyone can benefit,” he said. “Add to that the integration of social interactions, data storage and having all those things in one place. If we draw a matrix of what you would have to purchase instead of KnowledgeVault, it’s seven or eight different things.”
It hasn’t taken long for businesses to see the value of the KnowledgeVault platform. The Ridgefield startup sold its first account in mid 2009, and now has 20,000 active paying users on board. Current clients include OnPoint Credit Union, the American Business Women’s Association (ABWA) and Vancouver-based Audigy Group.
“The idea of social media inside the firewall is absolutely going to happen,” said Hunter when asked about KnowledgeVault’s growth. “It’s literally a billion dollar market. So we do see growth and as we grow we will be looking for talent.”
Hunter estimated outgrowing his company’s current space in 12 to 18 months. However, he noted that when that time comes, KnowledgeVault will not be leaving Southwest Washington.
“I would love to stay here, period,” he said. “We‘ve seen some software companies in Portland get their venture capital and move to California. I don’t have any interest in that. The quality of life here for our families is why we are committed to this area.”