published Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Woople education system gives companies control over training

Nicole Swank, left, and Stephanie Wharton, with Woople, talk to a potential customer during the small business expo Wednesday at the Chattanooga Convention Center.
Nicole Swank, left, and Stephanie Wharton, with Woople, talk to a potential customer during the small business expo Wednesday at the Chattanooga Convention Center.
Photo by Angela Lewis /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
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Name: Woople

Age: Two-and-a-half years

Location: The company will move into its new offices at 100 Tremont St. on June 1. The North Shore space already has caught local attention for its murals of famous scientists.

Contact information: 800-823-7698, Woople.com

Products/services: Woople is a Web-based e-learning platform that allows users high levels of customization. Clients may upload their own content, workbooks, tests and videos or select program's from Woople's library. Woople also offers a number of training and customer service programs.

Cost: The basic Woople application costs $95 per month

Startup investment: About $500,000

Rapid success: The Woople platform met with success soon after launching. A few local Allstate Insurance offices started using the program, and Woople soon became the training supplier for all of the organization's 12,300 offices. In its first year, the company brought in about $4 million. This year, Woople is on track to hit $20 million in revenue.

Inspiration: After 28 years in education, Woople owner and founder Paul Cummings noticed a trend toward online learning. His five kids helped persuade him to start a Web service, but he soon found the content management systems available were overpriced and unfriendly to users. "The fact of the matter is people were being overcharged for years," he said. "We had four simple things; Woople has to be simple, affordable, fun, efficient."

Future goals: Cummings is an educator at heart. He has already started on plans to record lessons with top kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers, and wants to make them an affordable supplement for all students. "We believe we've got an affordable-enough product that we can put it in every household for under five bucks," he said.

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