We met Mantas Ratomskis, CEO of Eruditus, at the first Arctic Evening we hosted in Vilnius, Lithuania back in mid April. He introduced us to his team’s product LoomiDeck, an enterprise social network for collaboration and project management, which is gathering good feedback and users.
The story of Eruditus that Mantas told me was an interesting example of a team committed to each other and to finding success. LoomiDeck isn’t their first product, but their second, well it could be argued that it’s technically their third. You’ll find it out why shortly.
Eruditus was founded, and received funding, to create a first of it’s kind e-learning service on Facebook. That was called myEVERCLASS and as Mantas readily admits, it failed drastically. It failed to find a market in Europe and with all investment funding drained Eruditus had to suffer the consequences with drastic cuts to both the team and operational expenses.
However there was a silver lining, it did attract the interest of new partners in the Middle East, and they now find themselves as the core technology providers for CloudCampus. This project, which is an initiative founded by HBMS University and Global Learning, is an attempt to provide affordable access to quality e-learning content in Africa, the Middle East and Asian.
So myEVERCLASS became CloudCampus, which accounts for projects one and two. With a steady revenue stream from CloudCampus Mantas and his small team were free to begin work on something new. They chose to look at an issue that they were struggling with inside the team, the problem of finding a good tool for project management. During their two year journey with myEVERCLASS and CloudCampus they had tried a number of software solutions but found none that they were satisfied with, so in true startup fashion they decided to make their own.
“It [LoomiDeck] is created out of our personal problem.” Mantas explained, “We are working with remote markets and it is very hard to adopt collaboration and projects management platform if it is not engaging.”
The team decided to approach the challenge of creating another entrant into what looks to be an increasingly crowded market, not by adding new features, but by focusing on design and usability. As Mantas said, they were finding that getting users to engage with a project management platform and actually use it was where they felt they were being let down. So what they have built looks a lot more like a social network than a dry, functional, business suit of software tools.
The thinking is very simple, and is one of those great “of course” moments as soon as it is explained. Through years of using social networking platforms such as Facebook and MySpace (hello 2006!) we’ve got comfortable with sharing in quite specific ways. LoomiDeck’s little piece of genius is to give us those operations, but in the service of workflow and information sharing inside companies, not among your family and friends.
LoomiDeck includes all the usual things you’d expect to find in projects management software. The ability to share notes, documents and pictures; have conversations; create projects and track their development. It does all this, but looks like a new social network upstart, and behaves as simply as one. The kind of easy of use that even your mother can operate, in spite of you hoping she never will.
The platform has only recently entered beta and Mantas confirmed that at 2000 registered users, and with a 20% conversion rate to active users they have stopped promoting themselves so that they can track viral growth. Although I guess this article might ruin that plan.
With a solid revenue base from CloudCampus, and a straightforward pricing plan for LoomiDeck, which includes the basic plan for free now while the service is in beta, we're hoping to hear good things from Mantas and the team at Eruditus in the future.