Women In Innovation Success Stories: Georgia Barrie, Learn.ink, Bristol

Posted on: 29/04/2022
Georgia Barrie, founder of learn.ink

For Georgia Barrie, being a winner of Innovate UK’s Women in Innovation Award was a launchpad to rapidly scale her digital training platform Learn.ink, which is based on her and her co-founders’ combined 15 years’ experience of building digital solutions for developing countries and rural, hard-to-reach populations.

“We wanted to build a tool that enables organisations to get their training online in a matter of hours, not months”, said Georgia. Learn.ink’s learning experience is based on hundreds of hours of user testing and is optimised to work even for those with poor internet connections and limited literacy. Georgia said: “We’ve gotten to the point now where someone who has never used a smartphone before can intuitively understand how to complete a Learn.ink course. That’s a big milestone for us”.

Innovate UK’s Women in Innovation Award couldn’t have come at a better time for the Learn.ink team. They launched the first version of the online learning platform in May 2020 and, by the time the programme started in March 2021, had a clear roadmap to take them to the next level of growth.

Renewed subscriptions and new features

A lot has happened since they joined the programme. “We’ve built and launched major new features and significantly increased our subscriber base, to the extent that we now have learners in over 30 different countries around the world,” said Georgia.

She continued: “Our customers range from companies training sales agents in Kenya to NGOs training rice farmers in the Philippines. Last year one of our customers sent us a link to an academic paper analysing how Learn.ink is being used to train frontline health workers in India. That was really exciting.”

Learn.ink has strong growth ambitions for the coming 12 months and will be launching some major updates to the learning platform. Georgia said: “What motivates me and my co-founder Adam Wills is the impact Learn.ink can have on learners around the world. We want to create a genuinely accessible learning experience that allows anyone, no matter where they live or what language they speak, to build the skills they need. In five years’ time, our ambition is for millions of people around the world to have benefited from Learn.ink.”

Jack of all trades

Georgia has learned a lot during the programme. She said: “I definitely subscribe to the ‘jack of all trades’ theory of entrepreneurship. I taught myself to code by watching online tutorials and built the first version of Learn.ink together with my co-Founder. Over the last year, I’ve done everything from sales and marketing to software development and design – often all in the same day!”

Georgia admits there are a thousand and one challenges you face as an innovator and it can be a rollercoaster of an experience, dealing with stress, rejection and regret. She quotes Steve Jobs who once said: “I’m convinced that about half of what separates successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance”.

“One piece of advice I’d give to people thinking about becoming an entrepreneur is to find something you deeply care about. That makes the perseverance part a whole lot easier,” Georgia adds.

Blown away by the support

“Before embarking on the Women in Innovation programme, I could count the number of female entrepreneurs I knew on one hand. The most beneficial part of the programme for me has been joining a cohort of 40 women, all starting innovative companies and sharing the same kinds of challenges and experiences. I’ve been blown away by how supportive and encouraging everyone is and I’ve no doubt that we’ll continue to support each other even after the programme ends,” enthused Georgia.

“She added: “My main piece of advice is to be clear about what you and your business needs to get to the next level. There are plenty of people in the programme, from Innovate UK EDGE’s Innovation and Growth Specialist to the other women in the cohort, who can help you get there. You just need to know how to ask.”

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