Growth Tribe received was awarded a runner up in the EdTechX Scale Up Awards category. We spoke with Peter van Sabben the CEO of Growth Tribe to learn more about their ambitious plans and next steps.
What was the inspiration behind starting Growth Tribe?
We’ve always existed to help bridge a growing digital skills gap. The transformative nature of technology is constantly changing the nature of jobs that need to be done and traditional education solutions can’t keep up.
We actually began the journey as consultants but we quickly realised that consultancy is not a long-term solution to a growing skills gap. Once the external expertise leaves, the knowledge is lost! We needed to help organisations acquire these skills internally. We started out with training programs in growth & rapid experimentation but quickly expanded the portfolio into data & A.I. courses. We now also offer programs in UX Design, Product Management, Innovation & Digital Marketing. We always have an eye on emerging digital skills to ensure we’re fully prepared to help our customers acquire these capabilities.
We’re also on a mission to transform learning itself. Traditional training solutions & education paths are not sufficient for a dynamic digital world. People & organisations also need to fundamentally change the way they approach learning & development to keep up, stay relevant and competitive.
Learners are often all put on the same learning track, in the same format using the same sessions and expected to deliver the same outcomes. That results in limited impact. The learning experience must be more contextual and learning journeys must be data-driven & personalised.
That’s why we started the Growth Tribe, to positively impact people & organisations by ensuring they learn the right skills, in the best way!
What would you like everyone to know about Growth Tribe?
We’re obsessed with the learning experience! We follow a unique methodology when building programs that ensure they are always hyper-relevant, highly actionable, engaging and most importantly, enjoyable! We want people & organisations to embrace lifelong learning so we always strive to “WOW” them with the learning experience. Whether that is online or offline, in a course or while using our learning platform. Experience is everything!
We also deliver these learning experiences in many different formats. We believe in hybrid learning and have come a long way since starting out with the on-campus academy. For example, we now offer all our courses both online & on-campus!
What are you looking to achieve next?
In the long-term, we’ve got big ambitions to transform the way individuals & organisations learn and ultimately become the go-to learning partner for European enterprises looking to acquire the world’s most in-demand skills.
Currently, we’re focused on further optimising our learning experiences through digitalisation and expanding our client base throughout Europe.
Regarding digitisation, our new capability assessment software has already led to some great success in helping organisations identify skills gaps and prioritise training needs. This Software allows us to measure both individual and team domain competency in the areas most important to the business. These state-of-the-art assessments enable a more data-driven way of learning in the flow of work. Each learning journey is personalised by an individual mentor based on the learner’s individual skills gap. We’re then well equipped to deliver hyper-relevant training that tackles the most prominent skills gaps in the organisations.
This is really where we’re leading from the front — making learning measurable and ensuring organisations & L&D leaders can demonstrate the impact of learning investments. The capability scans are ongoing assessments that allow us to evaluate performance increases before & after the learning takes place.
We’ve also recently begun the development of our own “Always be Learning” app. This platform will serve as an extension of the current training portfolio, offering users micro-learning experiences, on-demand virtual coaching with domain experts and ongoing skills assessments. Our research shows that the most effective learning is a combination of macro learning (training courses) and microlearning (short bursts of content for learners to study at their convenience). It takes on average 66 days to build a habit. By increasing the length of our learning journeys we empower learners to build a habit of lifelong learning.
Looking back to the day you started, what would you have done differently?
We’ve known from early on that where Growth Tribe could have the biggest impact (on the digital-skills gap) would be from working with large enterprises. To both help them acquire in-demand skills and ensure they foster learning cultures. But enterprise business is a tough game to play and we perhaps didn’t acquire the account management & sales talent and experience needed early enough. While it’s going well now, I feel we could have been further along if we’d have addressed this earlier.
I would have also focused on leadership training earlier. The mindset and approach to learning are different in large businesses. We have found that to truly inspire people to take a new approach to learning, they need to experience our courses first-hand. The people we need to inspire most are business leaders/executives and it can be hard to get them to commit to a course that is 1–2 days out of the office. Digital leadership training would not only help us attract these profiles but would also help change their mindset and overcome tech-ignorance. Senior leadership can often be the bottleneck in organisations looking to digitally transform. Leading in the digital age is different. You need an intuitive understanding of technology and appreciation of its impact to be an effective digital leader. A lack of digital knowledge amongst business leaders can result in prioritisation and budgets that don’t support digital initiatives or ongoing digital training.
What piece of advice would you give to other entrepreneurs? (in the EdTech space)
I’ll focus here on my peers in the edtech space.
Firstly, ensure you can always measure the impact and effect of your solutions on the learner. Don’t focus too much on vanity metrics like adoption and engagement. Focus on how your solutions result in positive & lasting behavioural change. Does your solution help the learner acquire new skills and knowledge effectively and in an actionable way? (can they apply it?)
Also, I believe that to have a big impact in this space Edtech solutions should help make learning more enjoyable. (Hint: that’s not about measuring NPS). To be effective I believe that learning should not be a time-block but a lifelong and everyday experience. If learning is enjoyable people are more likely to adopt the habit. Think of sports as an example. If you make sports enjoyable then people want to play and want to get better and progress!
How do you think the support and ecosystem in your country has helped you to launch and grow Growth Tribe?
When we launched in 2015 we got support from the city of Amsterdam and the University of Amsterdam to kickstart Growth Tribe which was super helpful. This helps us still today. We have great relationships with government bodies and universities. They help us and we now help advise them on new digital courses and train some of their staff in new digital domains.
It’s extremely crucial in the beginning that the government understands that education is so important and there is a runway required to bring the curriculum and course to a certain level. They need to support this. Startup Amsterdam supported us with the University of Amsterdam to create our first course and helped us with a classroom to organise our first bootcamps.
In Amsterdam, we’re working closely with the city and the local government to boost the edtech industry with a new community. We want to bring the edtech industry closer together to share our insights. We plan to launch this later in 2020.
What’s been the biggest challenge you have seen with Growth Tribe amidst the COVID-19 pandemic?
People see the urgency now for digital transformation and moving online. We moved our courses online rapidly in typical Growth Tribe fashion. Some of our clients are not shy of innovation and digitalisation and were happy to move to remote live courses. However, some clients have assumed the quality of remote online training is inferior and the learning is less interactive. When transitioning the courses online, we were very careful to use the same methodology we have always used when it comes to developing learning experiences. I think the result is very unique and special. But the only way to show this to people is by getting them to take the course online. This can be a challenge.
This is also perhaps why edtech innovation can be difficult as people need to see, hear and feel it before they know the quality. People still have old assumptions and beliefs about training and what’s effective and it can be a challenge to shift their thinking. Ultimately, it requires them taking part in the learning experience for them to realise its power. The biggest challenge is still the mindset change, what is possible and what is not.
How do you envisage the EdTech landscape will change as we go into the ‘New Normal’?
If people are open to trying new digital courses and adopting edtech then they will realise what is really possible. Organisations that are more open-minded and invest in training & edtech are the ones that will get ahead by continuously keeping their people up-to-date. These types of organisations generally have a deeper understanding of tech and the digital landscape and will help the edtech landscape evolve and grow.
People are now really starting to see the impact of edtech tools and platforms as they experience these themselves due to the pandemic. I think Edtech has a big role to play in the ‘new normal’ so watch the space!
Finally, is there anything else you would like to add?
I’m super excited about the future. A lot will change and I look forward to the whole industry coming together to answer the question “How do we ensure people enjoy learning?”. This is such a big question in my opinion, one that needs long-term thought and investment. It’s what will ensure people are always learning, empowering them to stay up-to-date & in the lead. I’m looking forward to working on this.