Meet the business: AdaptiVLE Ltd

Mark Gash tells UMi about his role at adaptiVLE Ltd and why he recommends Digital Enterprise and Digital Knowledge Exchange. 

What is it the company does? 

adaptiVLE are blended training experts. We deliver digital development and consultancy services that transform traditional face-to-face instructional training businesses into blended training providers. 

Our strategies and solutions make training organisations more profitable, promote repeat business and differentiate subject matter experts from their competitors. 
Describe your role in no more than 100 words 

As lead creative, I guide the look and feel of client projects in all creative aspects, from design and copywriting, to scripting and storyboarding. I make sure that client brand guidelines are followed and that the work we do is consistent with a customer's other output.

Once I'm happy with a concept, it gets passed over to either the development team if it's a digital course, or our film team if it's an interactive video.

I'm also responsible for our in-house marketing, so the website, social media, blogs, print, advertising and exhibitions all help to keep me busy! 
How did you come to do the work that you do? 

I studied electronic imaging and media communications at university 20 years ago, which was a catch-all course for what was then web-based and digital technologies of the late 90s / early 2000s.

I made friends with a fellow student called Lewis Carr and after we had spent all of our student loans in HMV, we tried to pay them back by setting up a digital animation company. It didn't work out, as we had no idea how to run a business, so we went our separate ways. I went down a design/advertising/marketing route and Lewis got into eLearning.

Our paths crossed again 15 years later and Lewis had been running adaptiVLE for three years. We went to the pub for a pint and I joined the company a few months later. 
What has been your biggest challenge in your current position? 

Trying to create a brand identity for the company. Lewis is brilliant at what he does and he is well known in the industry for the amazing things he can do with the Moodle software. A lot of the initial clients adaptiVLE attracted were based on Lewis’ reputation in the field and through contacts and referrals.

As the business grew, our services changed from purely building learning platforms into creating design and content for courses. This is where my skills came into play. However, we’re still in a transitional phase for the company’s identity - we want adaptiVLE to be known as blended learning experts and not just trade off Lewis’ name for Moodle platform projects. Although we still do those too! 
Where do you see the company in five years’ time? 

In all honesty, eLearning as an industry, and the technology that supports it, moves at such a pace that it’s difficult to predict where it will be in even 12 months, let alone five years! This is why we’ve moved into blended training, cherry-picking the best parts of eLearning and applying them in ways that support real-world trainers.

It means we get to carve out our own niche and help the experts who should be at the heart of training and learning programmes, regardless of the technology that’s available.

We’re currently working on a new training delivery method, so if trainers are using that in five years’ time, I’ll be happy. 
Why did you take part in Digital Enterprise or Digital Knowledge Exchange? 

We are a small company and we have a great set of skills across our team, but we can’t cover all bases when it comes to actually running the business. The diverse range of training, mentorship and information on offer was what attracted us to the programme. We are always appreciative of help! 
What has the Digital Enterprise or Digital Knowledge Exchange done for your business? 

We received mentorship and advice on a new product we were developing, that would ultimately appeal to a market outside of our core customer base.

Business plans, marketing strategies and workshops all helped us to focus our efforts and create a prototype product which we released to a select group of clients. We then refined this and now have a product that we use to deliver blended learning solutions to instructional trainers and training companies.

This is a totally different sector to our traditional client base and has led to the development of even more blended tools that we will be rolling out in the near future. 
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader? 

If you’ve created your own company, then you’ve done it for reasons other than purely making money - you’ve done it because you have a vision and believe you have something to offer that is unique.

The problem is that once you’re in the thick of running a business, it can be easy to lose sight of that vision, especially when you need to pay bills and wages. It can be tempting to sell yourself short or take on work just to get some money in the bank. Before you know it, your business has drifted a long way from your original dream and you may find you don’t even enjoy it anymore.

Stick to your dreams and take all the help and advice that is offered - you’ll get there in the end. 
What do you wish someone had told you when you started out?

Make lots of notes, create briefing documents, get everything agreed in writing and make sure you get a signed contract. And a job isn’t complete until the client is happy and the money is in the bank! 
Why would you recommend Digital Enterprise or the Digital Knowledge Exchange 

They are knowledgeable across a whole range of digital business and marketing related subjects and no business can know everything, so it’s great to be able to access all of that knowledge in one place.

Their seminars are great places to meet other businesses that are in a similar position and the tutors are friendly and approachable.

Their mentors have access to contacts you don’t and it’s good to have an outsider look at your business and give their opinion. adaptiVLE have gone through the process and are a more focused business because of it, so I highly recommend it. 

If you liked this post, please share with your friends and followers. If you are interested in digital, why not check out the Digital Enterprise Top 100, a major initiative to identify those companies that are setting an example for others to follow within the world of digital transformation. 

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