Don Weobong, founder of eLeaP, was born in Ghana. In the 1980s his mother came to Louisville to attend Spalding University and loved the city. Years later, she came back to Louisville to visit and some friends told her they would be interested in sponsoring one of her sons here. Weobong moved to Louisville, got married, had children here, and is now running eLeaP.
We spoke to Weobong about his company.
Tell us about eLeaP.
Weobong: eLeaP is a learning management system. Clients use our platform to create and deploy training. The more regulations their industry has, the more they need our system. For example, life sciences clients, medical device clients, etc., require a validated platform because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) needs to check their records and make sure the data is what it says it is. We help them meet compliance requirements.
If you’re a manufacturer, for example, and you’ve got a new hire coming on, you want that person to know all of the safety and regulatory steps before they go on a job site.
What device does the app run on?
Weobong: It’s device agnostic. You can use it on a tablet, cell phone, desktop, laptop, or whatever. We build three different UIs for the system based on screen size. When we detect the screen size, we give you the UI that is optimized for that screen size. The UIs are built based on the type of interaction the user is engaged in, such as the motion of clicking versus swiping. You can’t just shrink everything down and then say it’s mobile responsive.
How did you get started down this road?
Weobong: About 16 years ago, I was finishing up my master’s in development and business and one of my mentors ran a substance abuse prevention training company funded by the federal government. He traveled all over the place to do face-to-face training. His budget got cut and the travel was cut back extensively. I told him I thought I could come up with a prototype for him to do the training online. The tool had to be simple but also flexible. In one instance he could want to use a PowerPoint presentation. In another instance it could be a video, a YouTube clip, or a PDF file that people could download. That was the start of what we’re doing now.
Your platform is flexible.
Weobong: Yes, we can provide a way to get feedback on something or give out certificates. We can gamify it so that users can earn points in order to incentivize them. We’re building a platform that is able to do all of the above, but is still very simple to use.
Our platform is a building block. Clients can put it into their system and then decide for themselves what constitutes a ‘completion.’ In one instance it could be just reading the material. Another could be you have to spend at least 30 minutes on the material to earn a completion certificate. Maybe there’s a requirement that the user get an 85% on a test, or to fill out this 15 question questionnaire.
I liken our system to a highway. Everybody gets the same highway to start with. The way clients drive the truck or what they carry on their truck is entirely up to them. This allows us to go to market in a more efficient way, where we don’t have to build custom software for each client that comes in. It also means that clients can go live very quickly.
What are the advantages of having a startup in Louisville?
Weobong: There’s stability. The cost of living here allows you to get a lot more done in terms of resources.
What would you change?
Weobong: We get 95% of our revenue from outside the state of Kentucky. And it’s not for lack of trying. One thing I want to see more of here is increased support for local tech companies, and especially minority tech companies. I want to see our ecosystem grow and have some big successes. You never know where the next Facebook or Uber might come from. So let’s not impede them before they can get started.
Are you going to stay here?
Every day I get an email from some VC that wants to invest in our company idea but wants us to move to some other location. I tell them I want to keep everything here. We’re not location-dependent. I don’t have a manufacturing facility at a particular location to operate. I can operate from anywhere on the planet. This is where my family is.