NEW YORK – Thanos Papangelis, the Greek CEO and co-founder of Epignosis, spoke with The National Herald about the company which helps other companies and organizations of all sizes, including small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), around the world with training and developing their employees. A global pioneer in learning technology, Epignosis addresses modern learning challenges and offers solutions for companies training their employees even if they are on a tight budget.
TNH: How did Epignosis come about?
Thanos Papangelis: It all started in 2001 when, as a Computer Engineering graduate, I replied to an email coming from my now business partner, Dimitris Tsingos, who was looking for new venture ideas and partners. Our initial business idea was an online school supporting Greek graduating high school seniors in their University entrance exams, which we called eFront. With a small initial budget we started implementing this idea as a side hustle, but after multiple obstacles, failures and pivots, we decided in 2012 to change direction and we restructured the company to have an international focus. While keeping our first product, we decided to pivot to a different target audience, small and medium-sized companies in the global market that wanted to train their employees. What truly signaled the birth of our new SaaS [software-as-a-service] company was the introduction of TalentLMS, a cloud learning management system.
For me, this journey was always about externalizing my creativity, rather than just making money.
TNH: How long did it take from idea to realization?
Papangelis: As I mentioned, the idea for eFront sparked in 2001 when we started to reimagine learning with it. What we wanted to do then, and what we still do today, is to democratize learning by making premium eLearning technology accessible and affordable to any single company or organization worldwide. The initial form of the company originated in 2003, but it wasn’t until 2007 that I devoted myself fully to this idea. That’s when we made a major pivot towards the SaaS business model, based on the technology we had already built. Finally in 2012, we introduced our flagship product TalentLMS, a SaaS Learning Management System to address the training needs of SMBs. Since then, the platform has been steadily embraced by SMBs looking for a training solution that’s fully customizable, easy to use and manage, and ensures employee buy-in. Today, nine years after its release, TalentLMS serves over 70,000 teams worldwide, 9,000+ customers, and 11 million learners. Multiple pivots, three products, countless product iterations, and a few brand positioning changes later, Epignosis has grown into one of the most important global corporate eLearning market players.
From the role of CTO of Epignosis, which I held until 2020, to CEO, I have helped oversee the building of Epignosis’ three platforms — eFront, TalentLMS and TalentCards — which address the full spectrum of companies’ modern training needs. During the last decade, these products have helped hundreds of thousands of organizations of all sizes across the globe reach their potential through better training.
With a portfolio of three digital learning solutions today we serve customers ranging from SMB to Enterprise, addressing some of the most considerable modern learning challenges.
TNH: What should The National Herald readers know about Epignosis?
Papangelis: We're an almost 140-strong team coming from 14 different nationalities. And we work hard to make everything about being at Epignosis feel right for everyone. It’s not only Bob the pet plant who lives with Marketing, the intense ping-pong tournaments, or the cool office vibes. It’s the people. We simply enjoy each other’s company — which makes our jobs feel a lot less… job-y. We’re not into hierarchies but we’re big on respect.
Our R&D is in the heart of Athens and we have offices in Cyprus, London, New York, and San Francisco. Over 60% of our customers are in North America and we’re proud to help companies such as Philips, PwC, Duolingo, Schneider, Deliveroo, and many more, in training and developing their employees.
At Epignosis, we iterate on ideas that produce tools which people actively use. We strive to balance usability, simplicity and fit-to-purpose solutions, paired with robustness and strong potential. We believe that great companies are built on empathy, integrity, diversity, and simplicity.
Looking back over the journey, I still name these core values established over almost two decades ago — employee retention, customer focus, and simplicity — as the keys to our continued success.
TNH: How does your Greek heritage influence your work?
Papangelis: We named our company by the Greek word Epignosis [epi·gno·sis]. That means real knowledge and it captures our values and represents our vision. Our company is all about learning and the name we’ve chosen represents it perfectly. While our first product that started it all, eFront, has been named after a Greek word for tutorial [frontistirio].
TNH: What are you working on next?
Papangelis: Recently we made a shift from being strictly a software house to being a complete solution provider. In May 2020, we launched TalentLibrary, a growing collection of ready-made soft skills training courses. We’re constantly expanding it with new courses that help companies in building skills and awareness that are aligned with current and upcoming workplace challenges. Some of them are diversity and inclusion, teamwork, communication, problem solving and remote work, but also “hard skills” oriented courses such as sales, customer service, project management, and marketing essentials.
The transformation of our tech is also ongoing as we enriched the tech team, improved our infrastructure, and put shape to our vision for the LMS of the next decade.
We’re working on spreading our latest product TalentCards, a mobile learning app for training the deskless workforce.
More information about Epignosis is available online: https://www.epignosishq.com/.