Naveen Bhatnagar and Sharad Saran- The Co-Founders of Sarmentum shared the story of the company’s growth with The Global Hues.
Sarmentum is a Digital Learning company, providing customized courses compatible across different devices. They cater to go-to useful, cost-effective content solutions. The ideology behind starting Sarmentum is to create a customer-centric organization where the focus is on providing solutions to the customer problems which in turn leads to business for Sarmentum. The company’s core expertise is in developing learning content using Rapid Authoring tools like Articulate Storyline 360, Camtasia, Captivate, etc, and Video-Based Learning programs using Aftereffects, Vyond, etc.
This focus helps them to draw a boundary defining the technical expertise while catering to customer needs in the areas of custom content development, gamification, mobile learning, content modernization, or translation implementation services etc. Sarmentum’s Vision is to be recognized as one of the leading performers through consistently achieving operational excellence, best-in-class customer satisfaction, and superlative financial performance.
Transforming the outlook of Learning and Technology
The core expertise of Sarmentum in rapid content authoring helps them to provide best-in-class solutions using experts in tools like storyline 360 while catering to business challenges that are impacting the learning outcome for the clients. The company’s technology experts work as a virtual team for the client to create engaging learning solutions and wherever required play with the tools to meet the client’s expectations.
In terms of learning, Sarmentum looks at various possibilities to help the clients not only impart learning but also help in learning retention. In Sharad’s view “One of the areas which helped in transforming learning is to move from the usual learning nuggets development approach to creating engaging, effective, and crisp digital learning programs.” This approach helps the learner to understand the concept and check the knowledge level meanwhile helping with learning retention.
Scaling the start-up idea to execution
“The most important question for us while starting Sarmentum was how we will be different from other eLearning companies and we had the answer from Day 1. The answer is our team’s strength in Rapid Authoring and Video-based learning,” explained Sharad. Sarmentum’s team includes people who are working on rapid authoring tools for the last 20 years.
They understand how to utilize the tool in the best possible way to meet customer expectations. This focussed approach helped the company to move from 1 client in November 2019 to 12 clients till March 2021. Sarmentum got very tempting opportunities using other custom technologies, however, they just walked away. “We prefer not to be a “yes” person for everything and fail on delivery, instead we prefer to be a trusted partner where customers understand our “yes” as work is done,” said Naveen.
At times being focused restricts the growth and for meeting these business challenges, the team keeps continuously learning, getting trained on new tools, and playing with the existing ones to get the best output for the customers. Since learning is the bread and butter for the majority of employees at Sarmentum for the last 15-20 years, it becomes a major business driver for the team. Down the line, Sarmentum migration might turn into a Technology major, the team is diligently working on different business options for the same.
Unique features to perform learning effectiveness evaluation
Sarmentum is a start-up however the team does have expertise in learning consultancy services. The company works with the client in defining the learning strategy, implementing the strategy, and working on learning evaluation in terms of ROI as well as learning effectiveness. They have been trying to achieve the same using video-based learning programs, which helps in checking knowledge retention, and have been working with the clients on creating questionnaires, surveys from learning evaluation perspective.
Every business objective requires a different training approach. Sarmentum understands the content has to be useful and functional besides being cost-effective. Therefore, they ensure to provide the content solution that is engaging and relevant. The company also deals in the localization of content in various languages to make it more reachable to diverse user base.
Sarmentum has worked with clients from various industries like manufacturing, strategic consulting, healthcare, banking, and eLearning in a very short span of time. “We are indebted to our clients for their trust in us, we are adding new clients to our portfolio and at the same time delivering quality solutions to our existing clients. The major reason why our clients rely on us is the fact we prefer to solve the problem of the client even if it reduces the actual project value for us,” believes Naveen. This transparent approach helped the company to put the customers first, hence building a relationship with the client which in turn leads to business and not vice versa.
In Naveen’s opinion, business models in the industry need to be redefined as the business approach will be different from what it was earlier post the covid-19. Sarmentum customizes its development models based on the type of business, volumes, delivery timelines, etc., and passes on the cost advantage to the customer instead of working on a traditional approach to cost. While approaching the project, Sarmentum defines the target audience’s age group, demography, knowledge level, etc. before jumping on to creating the learning solution. This helps in creating a connection between the content and the learner.
Mobile Learning and Managed Training Services
Mobile learning has played a key role in imparting knowledge and it has become a trend. The Future lies in making learning an immersive experience, which solves the major problem of learning by doing. The immersive experience is a bit of a costly affair. Sarmentum’s focus is to work on technology to make immersive learning cost-competitive, user-friendly, with less bandwidth consumption, and availability for all.
The development team is working towards newer strategies to improve the operational efficiency of the services provided to the clients. The company also deals in curriculum management services, providing custom-based solutions designed as per client’s needs and tailored according to your context and target audience. Sarmentum provides LMS training as well as administrative management to host learning solutions that best suit the customer’s business needs.
Impact of Covid-19
The company’s futuristic approach helped them to tackle the change management which impacted business during Covid-19. Sarmentum’s co-founders have been working from home for the last 5-6 years before Covid-19, which strengthened the belief in a work from home approach while meeting the expectation of clients as well as a team. In Sharad’s and Naveen’s viewpoint “You just need to have trust in what people are doing”. At the time when companies were facing the challenge of changing management in working style, it was business as usual for team Sarmentum, which indeed helped the company to stay one step ahead in the market.
Company and Team Ethos
The team relies on the philosophy of being a solution-oriented company which is the major reason for gaining customers’ trust. The company works with the customer as their virtual learning team and not as a vendor, helping them in overcoming challenges. “We don’t shy away from sharing our thoughts on how things can be made better or what areas can be cut off which helps the customers in their decision-making process,” explained Naveen. The company works on project governance which provides a robust and logical decision-making framework to manage the organization’s capital investments. Naveen and Sharad explained, “Our commitment to excellence is driven by agility, adaptability, integrity, team spirit, and continuous learning.”
The statement “A smooth sea never makes good sailors,” fits Sarmentum’s experience as a start-up. They faced different challenges and the team was able to resolve them based on risk mitigation processes. However, the challenges faced to date do not qualify as the biggest challenge in Naveen’s and Sharad’s opinion.
Views on success
Everyone has a different definition of success and measuring accomplishments. For Sarmentum the title of “Problem Solver” will define success. The company’s customers come with problems in the existing or other projects hoping to find solutions and management strategies. At times, Sarmentum successfully meets the expectations and sometimes it doesn’t work out. The solutions offered are entirely a third party without any commercials attached, which at times is appreciated by the customer.
Vision and Future Prospects
Sarmentum’s vision is to grow and become a complete plant with different branches while being a customer-centric organization providing solutions to customer challenges. The company wants to become a diversified conglomerate with different interests in terms of technology, real estate, etc. Naveen expressed, “The way we are approaching, we are a bit behind on our targets not in terms of revenue, but in terms of global presence and Research And Development budget. However, the future looks promising as the team has been working tirelessly for a common goal to achieve.”
Advice for upcoming start-ups
- Become a focussed company and have a clear idea about the core expertise. This will help in knowing the strengths and building new business relationships.
- It is really important to know what you are good at and what you cannot do.