By Graham Glass, CEO of CYPHER LEARNING, winner of Best SaaS Product for Learning Management or Training category at 2022 SaaS Awards

It’s an understatement to say that the e-learning industry is a dynamic one. The growing demand for online education during the pandemic catapulted it into a 315 billion dollar market in 2021, and it’s only going up from there. 

For anyone looking to start an e-learning business, this can feel like the perfect timing, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic has opened new doors for digitalization across sectors and industries.

Those who are already in business most likely feel the pressure of making the right decisions, as focusing on different markets or changing their strategy is not only needed, but it can also lead them in the wrong direction. 

As the founder and CEO of an e-learning company, I believe this is an opportunity to expand and reach new markets and the perfect timing for making a true impact in the world of education.

On the flip side, growth also comes with a new set of challenges as we need to address our clients’ needs in three markets: schools and universities, corporate, and entrepreneurs. We also know that e-learning trends come and go, but in order to stay in business, you need to stay ahead of the curve and innovate

So for anyone interested in this industry, here are the top four lessons that I’ve learned while managing a global e-learning company for more than a decade: 

1. Create a product you enjoy

Many people pick an industry based on demand or create demand for a specific product— there’s nothing wrong with that! 

However, for me, it’s always been about creating something that I would personally enjoy using.  I’m an educator myself, but I’m also a computer engineer. I like to build things and I’ve always wanted to solve problems that I encountered in my day-to-day work. For example, grading stacks of papers was the bane of my existence — it’s much easier to grade assignments and evaluate students in an online environment. 

However, there are lots of other things you can do. You can create educational games or educational content, but I wanted to do something that was quite broad and general purpose, just to get it into the hands of lots of people and help them achieve multiple goals. 

Of course, building a learning platform was and still is very rewarding. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have put in 16-hour work days in the beginning, and I’m still very hands-on as a CEO. It’s great to see how the work impacts others and building something that you care about will keep you motivated when things get tough. 

2. Build a global team 

I’m really proud of the “worldwide” part of my company, as I’ve always loved to travel and experience different cultures, even as a kid. So not only does this give you the chance to meet so many people in so many countries, but you’re all part of the same team, which is really rewarding to me. 

The biggest advantage of working with global talent is innovation. Since people come from different backgrounds and have different ways of perceiving things, we never run out of ideas. It’s also so important to have representation in different countries, and I don’t really think of my team as a remote one. It’s rather a distributed, global team. We’re not just an American company; we are just as much a Mexican company or a Filipino company. 

It’s important to have representation in different locations since our global edtech specialists and salespeople are better equipped to talk to local schools and businesses. They understand their challenges and the system and can quickly work out a plan to help them succeed with online learning.

3. Rely on client feedback 

Client feedback and requests are among the most important things that should drive development. Of course, keeping up with the trends and thinking about the future is important, but you also need to be pragmatic and put clients’ needs first. 

If you’re willing to listen, people will tell you what they like, what they dislike, and what they’d like to see added to the platform. This is just one of the reasons why we have a client engagement team that also offers support through training, platform setup and best practices, so there’s constant communication between clients and us. 

Clients can also see a product roadmap and get an idea of the direction that we want to take in the near and long-term future, as well as the ability to add their thoughts about our development plans. It’s also good practice to offer a free trial of the product so prospective clients can get an idea of what they can expect and be more confident that they’re making the right decision when investing in a learning platform. 

4. Hire based on passion 

Skills are very important, but what you should be looking for are people who really believe in your vision and have a true passion for what you do.

Many people in my team have a background in education, as a teacher, edtech specialist, or in the corporate training industry. Hiring based on whether or not a person would fit your company culture is essential since you want to attract the right talent and have them stay for more extended periods of time. 

It’s also important to prioritize that you’re all on the same team, because everyone has good ideas. I don’t think that only good marketing ideas must come from the marketing department, or the only good sales ideas come from the sales team.

So, everyone should feel comfortable sharing ideas about how to improve the company, regardless of what their position is. That’s why passion is key, employees will go above and beyond if they are truly invested and believe their work is meaningful. 

Growing a successful e-learning business

While the e-learning industry is seeing an unprecedented boom, we need to go back to what makes it unique: the potential to transform how people teach and learn. That’s why considering the impact that you want to have is paramount along with building a team of passionate people who truly believe in what you do.

It’s equally important to put clients first and remember to listen to everything they have to say—positive and negative. Plus, a global team has many advantages that drive innovation and help you see the world from a different perspective. 


CYPHER LEARNING provides an intelligent learning platform that empowers schools, businesses, and entrepreneurs around the world to reimagine online education and deliver the best learning experiences. CYPHER LEARNING has solutions for all major e-learning sectors: NEO LMS for K-20, MATRIX LMS for Business, and INDIE LMS for Entrepreneurs. 

Relied on by millions of users at more than 20,000 organizations, CYPHER LEARNING supports 40+ languages and has offices worldwide with global headquarters in Plano, Texas.