Brandon Hall awarded Torch LMS the “Gold – Best Advance in Learning Technology” for 2013, 2014 and 2016. Torch LMS by Prometheus Development is a business-focused online learning platform. This system represents a new breed of learning management systems. It is regarded as the ultimate tool in helping their clients improve the performance capacity of their greatest (and usually largest) business investment: The people.
Torch LMS promises to give organizations all of the tools they need to manage, deliver, track, and report on employee training and development. Torch will also empower organizations to capture and disseminate best practices, lessons learned, quickly implement change initiatives, and close skill gaps in the client’s workforce. Torch LMS is designed around efficiency, ease-of-use, and doing the essentials really well.
First and foremost, the company has designed its cloud product around the needs of workplace learning managers, and what organizations need to ensure that the learning function is delivering its promised results. Torch LMS has also learned from the shortcomings of other systems and has developed a unique and powerful learning management system (LMS). While their team is passionate about having a powerful and intuitive product, they are equally focused on providing world-class service to their users. They have created a tight link between support and product development. Every new enhancement to the system must be “customer validated.” That is, Torch LMS focuses on shaping its product road map in a direction that truly solves customer problem, instead of creating feature fatigue from useless features that have been characteristic of this space.
A candid Q&A with the Key Executive; Jake White
When and why was the company set up? How did you select the vertical and decide to be a part of the global platform?
As a workplace learning & development professional, I had extensive experience with learning management solutions, and felt there was a huge need for something far different from existing options. Clearly the most successful organizations make employee learning and development a strategic priority. Such a focus also addresses growing compliance demands, the need to take products to market quicker, and to develop future leaders. After seeing the enormous demand, and feeling like I had the experience and ideas, I launched Torch LMS in 2010.
Tell us briefly about your first product that was launched?
Sure! Our first version of the product had a lot of really cool functionality, but had some limitations too. We were a bootstrapped company, so we had to grow organically as new customers came in. While this was challenging, it has also proven to be a huge asset to our business. This approach forced us to listen very closely to the needs of our customers, while maintaining a level of scope discipline. When businesses go out and raise a bunch of money, they sometimes decouple sales and product development, and they miss the critical discussion that is necessary to really to solve customer pain.
Growing organically also bakes into your culture the importance of the customers and the importance of providing a unique experience to them. Larger SaaS vendors often lose this perspective as they focus on standardization, internal processes, and taking care of their investors.
How successful do you think your first project roll out was? Share the experience?
We picked up a number of small and medium-sized customers on our first version. We had some really happy customers, and some others who were not as happy as we wanted. We spent a lot of time trying to resolve their concerns and obstacles. Eventually, we took a step back, gathered the lessons we had learned from this first version, and decided to rewrite the entire system. This is when we had a number of major break-throughs that brought our current product to life.
If you have to list five factors that have been/are the biggest asset to your organization, what would they be and why?
Without question, the customer always has to be number one. You cannot be successful for long if you don’t make the customer the center of your business. Beyond customers, people are the most important asset in any organization. They are the biggest expense, but also have the biggest return if you can get the right people in the right place. Plus, as a former boss of mine used to say, “we spend too much time at work not to like the people we work around.” Other critical assets—which all flow from your people—include your ideas, your processes, and your expertise. You can win in even the most crowded industries with these assets.
‘It is difficult to start a venture. But far more difficult to maintain it’ - How would you and your team interpret this saying?
Well, I think there is some truth to this. Being able to change as you enter new phases of growth is important and difficult at times. I would still say, in our case, the starting phase was the more challenging period—especially when there is personal financial risk involved.
Do you have any new products ready to be/getting ready to be rolled out into the market?
We have some really unique functionality that we are working on, and we are really excited to get these features in the hands of our customers. I won’t spoil anything, but I will say that you can learn a lot from other industries and solutions. It is so easy to get stuck in a mode where you and your competitors are just keeping up with each other on features. But sometimes the best features are things that sound crazy at first. Innovation requires business leaders to see with a fresh perspective. Zen Buddhists call it “beginner mind.”
Roll out the red carpet for Jake
Jake White is the Founder and CEO of Torch LMS, which focuses on corporate learning & development technology. He is a Certified Professional of Learning and Performance.