Nikita Eelen of AMVONET
Meet Nikita Eelen, co-founder of AMVONET
, an e-learning management software suite.
What is AMVONET?
AMVONET is a comprehensive e-learning management, collaboration and authoring software suite. AMVONET allows you to create and manage content, assessments and certificates. You can manage students, their grades and generate progress reports. Web conferencing is built into the system. The virtual classroom tools include audio and video, text chat, whiteboards, screen share, PowerPoint presentations and a seamless integration with Moodle. Any live session in AMVONET can be recorded, edited and packaged into a SCORM Compliant file. AMVONET is an ideal solution for K-12, higher ed, and corporate education and training.
How did you come up with the idea?
The idea originated throughout five years of Vadim's [Nikita’s father] experience in implementing digital technology into the preforming arts. Vadim wanted to be able to teach a variety of students all over the world. However, initially the system was a prototype developed primarily for webinar type situations. It just evolved into what it is today based on our experience of what the market demands from e-learning software -- a single combined package for distance and hybrid based e-learning.
What was the biggest surprise in starting your business?
Likely the biggest surprise was learning how to do everything, as it is our first software company. When you look at it from the sidelines it seems so easy, but it took years of experience to truly understand what it means to start and grow a start up from scratch.
Where did you find your first employee?
In Alliance, Ohio they were our first systems administrator.
What does a typical day in your business look like?
Lots of Skype conversations, email messages, demonstrations, sales of the product via email and phone, support and product development management via MS Project, TRAC, and Google Drive, and strategic planning for accelerated growth via conversations, email and phone calls.
What are some of the advantages to doing business in Ohio?
Some advantages include the talented human resources that are available in Cleveland and Columbus. Another advantage is companies like JumpStart
that help businesses like ours grow. Finally, we believe there are a variety of funds that can assist growing a company, such as the North Coast Angel Fund
What resources or organizations in Ohio did you take advantage of and how did they help?
JumpStart is by far the most incredible organization in Ohio. They provided us with financial support by investing into us. More importantly, they are providing us with the best human resources we think are available for a company like ours.
Can you share a funny or amazing entrepreneurial experience with our readers?
There are many, but the one that comes to mind is how we received our first client. Our product was developed to the point where we thought we could make our first sale. We traveled to an expo in Ohio called e-tech and I remember Vadim wrote in big blue letters on a whiteboard in front of our booth: Virtual Classroom. We later learned that our first client stopped by the booth only because that was exactly what they were looking for -- a virtual classroom. Perhaps if Vadim did not write those words on the whiteboard, our company history could be completely different.
What inspires you?
The chance for us to change the world with our product primarily in the field of education inspires us.
What founders do you admire and why?
Steve Jobs, Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Steve Jobs for his taste in design and his incredible innovative mind to create amazing products. Larry and Sergey for their incredible ideas and constant innovation with Google, especially with the latest project of Google Glass. These are founders who also started companies from scratch and made them incredibly successful and household names.
What’s next for you?
Additional translation of our application into French and Czech as requested by new clients. Expansion into other countries where we see a growing market need, especially Russia where we see the market rapidly developing.
Interview by Joe Baur