To discover more about Chile's e-learning market BNamericas talked to Max Grekin, CEO and founder of the local e-learning firm Seaprende (www.seaprende.com).
BNamericas: According to a report by the Santiago Chamber of Commerce's (CCS) digital economy research center, e-learning will come to represent almost a third of spending on training in Chile by 2007. Is that a realistic estimate in your opinion?
Grekin: It is realistic if you take into account the great effort on the part of the government and the private sector to make use of this technology and methodology.
BNamericas: The CCS report stated: "In Chile e-learning was the fastest growing segment of the training market between 1998 and 2001. Training via the Internet grew by 241% in that period, while the whole training market grew by 185%." How is that growth reflected in Seaprende's billing and new client uptake?
Grekin: Sales have grown by 40% each half since last year.
BNamericas: The CCS report also stated: "Of the 200 institutions offering e-learning services year-end 2001, at least 110 were registered with the national training and employment service Sence, and 17 of those belonged to universities." How much of this client pool do you intend to serve?
Grekin: We expect our direct market share to equal our indirect market share, whereby universities and institutes hire us to develop an online [e-learning] proposal on their behalf, in terms of technology, methodology and services.
BNamericas: The government has established a US$1mn fund to finance a national e-learning network, including a Sence portal. Are you working with Sence on this?
Grekin: Like all other members of Chile's e-learning association Acel we are collaborating with all of Sence's e-learning directives. But in reality, with all due respect, it is Sence's measures that collaborate with the e-learning industry, which we are very grateful for.
BNamericas: What is Seaprende's current situation?
Grekin: Seaprende is not only generating value with [income from] its clients, but also with research and development of new technologies and methodologies, with the help of [the Chilean government's economic development agency] Corfo and universities such as MIT and Columbia.
BNamericas: Seaprende R&D director Danny Misraji told us in November 2001 that you had plans for international expansion and were in talks with private investors to finance it. Whatever came of that?
Grekin: The fact is after 11 September international funds have become more reticent about investing, especially in Latin America, but we have received all investment commitments that were agreed upon.
BNamericas: Is your income model still based on being an ASP?
Grekin: We have had many requests for in-house [solutions], but in general the ASP model is most sought after.
BNamericas: What are the company's main challenges this year?
Grekin: One of the main objectives is to consolidate the industry, which is why we organized the E-Dunet conference on August 30 at the Crown Plaza hotel. Industry representatives will be able meet with personnel, training, finance and marketing managers and promote knowledge administration by e-learning.
We are also developing Acel, which we founded together with eight other prestigious e-learning firms.
BNamericas: What are your main obstacles?
Grekin: To overcome the fear of change and innovation present in many organizations today.
ABOUT THE COMPANY:
Seaprende was founded in July 2000 by private investors and selected by US-based business development organization Endeavor (www.endeavor.org) to form part of its pool of start up companies eligible for assistance.