PEOPLE sometimes ask Ryan Macpherson how we went from being a physical education teacher in Western Sydney to the co-founder of a multi-million-dollar tech company.
"I tell them teaching is the best training for a business, you are managing 200-plus kids emotionally and physically. It's a challenge to engage them," he laughs.
Mr Macpherson graduated from the University of Newcastle and was posted to Rooty Hill High for six years. Amid the Rudd government's Digital Education Revolution, he was an early adopter of tech in the classroom. Later at the Department of Education, be built digital programs for teachers.
Returning to Newcastle, he consulted to registered training organisations and SMEs before meeting Coassemble co-founder Jude Novak, then working in e-learning. Both agreed that e-learning platforms were either too simple or complex and costly; and both lacked fun and spark.
"We saw a gap in the middle. There was a whole stack of people wanting to educate employees in an engaging but cost-effective way," observes Mr Macpherson.
Coassemble's platform uses on-demand software and drag-and-drop templates allowing clients to create self-paced training for staff.
"We give you tools to create content then options to share it via URL, email or link to other platforms. Lastly, we give you analytics. So it's create, share, analyse," he says.
In a crowded market, Coassemble combines a powerful authoring tool to create content, with a simple Learning Management System, focused on the user: "If you think about a teacher and student, we are focused on the student," he says.
Though the bulk of staff are in Newcastle, its clients are mostly in the US, where it is headquartered in Denver.
In February it raised $4.4m Series A funding round led by Sydney-based Equity Venture Partners (EVP), topping up the $2.2 million it has privately raised since inception.
"The US market understands our product at a higher level. We never sell to a HR team, we sell to team manager who wants to train others. We have a 99 per cent retention rate and the idea is we don't lose customers, we have a 24-7 live chat, " Mr Macpherson says.
As many companies move online to cope amid Covid-19, Coassemble is scaling organically.
"Demand has shifted upwards but the challenge is having our team a bit isolated because they can't travel so we have to make sure we have a focused approach," says Mr Macpherson.
Coassemble is offering its platform to teachers at a bargain rate: "We thought teachers need tools, we have one, let's offer it up. As a past teacher myself, I thought it was a way we could help."