Leighton Healey, CEO of Bootkik
1. What does Bootkik do?
Bootkik is an AI-driven business education app that offers personalized university-level training to small and medium-sized companies.
Our artificial intelligence and expert gamification design ensure that learning will fit a user’s unique needs, providing them with what they need to learn, when they need it - all while connecting them to a community.
2. What inspired you to start your company? What problem are you solving?
We believe that the most significant opportunity to change the world, is to increase the productivity of the largest contributor in every nation’s economy: small and medium sized businesses. Improving the success rate of this community raises a nation's total health, resiliency and welfare.
The biggest obstacle that aspiring and scaling entrepreneurs encounter is navigation: knowing what to do next, who to meet next and what resources to pursue next. Bootkik provides intelligent recommendations and customized next steps to accelerate progress.
3. How long did it take you to go from prototype to launch?
We spent 6 months understanding the market opportunity, experimenting, learning and making lots of mistakes. Once we had a recipe that was resonating, we started building a team tailored to the needs of the problem. This month (November 2017) marks one year since we starting developing our platform, building our audience strategy, refining our market messaging and launching live testing with beta users and pilot projects.
The science behind Bootkik’s revolutionary learning design was demonstrated in early pilot projects and captured in a research white paper. Nearly 800 platform testers generated 30,000 responses and experienced a unique, AI-curated, learning experience. Since initial testing, we have improved our platform and focused on an initial learning focus: business education for small and medium size companies.
4. What are your greatest achievements so far?
Some highlights from our first 12 months, include:
We won the A100 ‘One to Watch’ award, recognizing Bootkik as the most promising technology startup in the Province of Alberta. The A100 is Alberta’s most influential community of seasoned technology founders.
We are in revenue. Our media strategy has been very successful. We have monetized our media content through ad placement and advertisement subscriptions. Our clients include Osler, ATB and Collins Barrow.
We have a solid and growing team (currently at 17 talented individuals). Collectively our team members have built 16 profitable companies, achieved 26 university degrees and taken 21 products to market.
We completed successful initial testing of our learning learning engine with 640 University of Calgary students. Today, we have over 2,000 test users and two pilot projects with major Canadian universities launching for testing within the next 30 days.
5. What are your future goals for your company?
We started Bootkik to build the 'Bloomberg of the SME Community', a global online data platform company to go head-to-head with big players like Linkedin, Facebook, Google and Amazon.
Our goal is to build a global top five technology platform - one that increases the productivity of the small and medium size business community worldwide and is based in Alberta!
6. How has Startup Calgary helped you?
Startup Calgary has helped us to get our story in front of hundreds of people. They have opened doors for us to meet with investors, to receive valuable feedback and access really helpful opportunities to help us grow.
7. How can companies make the most of their experience with Startup Calgary and Launch Party?
Come with a generous spirit, meet at least 25 new people, and always lead with 'how can I help?'.
8. What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to take their idea from the back of a napkin to the marketplace?
Stop trying to come up with ideas or solutions. Find a real problem that impacts a large market, and spend time learning about the problem. Those who are affected by the problem will provide you with ideas for solutions they would pay for.
Once you have your idea - share it with anyone who will listen (don’t keep it a secret). There is a misconception that if you have a million dollar idea, you should keep it under wraps. The chances that your current idea is the actual idea that evolves into a scalable business, is about one in ten thousand. Ask as many people as you can for feedback, and let them show you the holes in your perfect plan. This will help you to get to the root of the real problem, and help refine your overall idea and business model.
Finally, I would also strongly encourage you to check out Bootkik. Own a business? Have an idea for a product? Want a promotion? Then Bootkik is for you. You will receive an intelligent trail-guide to help you get started!
9. Who do you look up to in the Calgary startup community? Which companies are doing cool things?
10. If you could do one thing differently while building your startup, what would you have done?
Branding is such an integral part of a startup’s foundation. If we could go back in time, we would not have hired an external branding company. We ended up scrapping their very expensive design and starting from the ground-up with a talented in-house graphic designer.
Published December 1, 2017