When most of us think of L&D, the words that spring to mind aren’t typically ‘fun’ and ‘enjoyable’.
The Learning and Development space has been well overdue for an upgrade for a long time....
They have transformed the world of Learning Management Systems by creating gamified training experiences personalised to individual businesses by leveraging AI. Think Duolingo, but for upskilling your team, fuelled by AI to build your bespoke training experiences off the back of your existing PDFs and PPTs.
As part of F+L Capital, we invested in them in October last year and interviewed about their journey so far…
What are both of your backgrounds prior to UJJI?
Ludmila: We are both originally from Brazil and I’ve been in the UK for a little over five years now. This is my third Venture. I had two businesses in Brazil before. One was in Prop-Tech and the other one was a coaching company where we developed a patented methodology and scaled through franchising. Before that, I worked in HR for quite a long time, so my whole experience is about human development and helping people to develop themselves, and how companies should develop themselves from processes, to HR. I started my MBA in Oxford and moved to Oxford full-time and that’s when Rafael and I reconnected as we were friends before in Brazil.
Rafael: As Ludmila mentioned, I’m also originally from Brazil. I moved over to continue my career as a global business and brand strategist. I’d worked previously with several many big corporations to the likes of Shell, Avon, Nestle, Bayer, Diageo and Mars Pet Care and Olio, which is a series B scale up. That was also a very good opportunity to work in the tech startup environment with the founders throughout my career. I also built my first startup which was the equivalent to the Brazilian Headspace and my second which was the world's first, AI based, dog tracker helping lost dogs find their way back home. Using AI in 2018, when AI wasn’t even a thing, really…
Rafael and Ludmila with the team at Sifted 2023
How did UJJI come to life?
Rafael: Yeah, so essentially we're both non-technical founders. We're very tech savvy, we just can’t go all the way through to getting our hands dirty with code. That's what I always like to say. We’ve both had experience building digital products, so basically it all started with really finding our complementary skills. I bring to the table everything related to Business, Brand Strategy, Data Analytics and Ludmila particularly within the world of Behavioral Sciences, HR, Learning and Development and Neurocoaching. So we just felt that, given these complementary skills, we had the best founding team to tackle this problem that we personally felt when we were scaling these businesses. Following a lot of research, we got to understand that many Founders, C-Level execs, Leaders and Heads of Departments were facing the exact same problem as their businesses scale.
How did you build your first product?
Rafael: So we just went about in really doing a lot of research initially, which actually took a lot of time. That's why we usually like to say that UJJI officially launched a lot later than our official “founding date”. Before that it was just product development, Neuroscience validation within Oxford, and a lot of research with industry leaders. So essentially a lot of research was put in place before we actually started developing the product, then we knew exactly what we wanted to do. Obviously when you're building a product there are some things that do not work, which we've learned a lot. So you ditch some things, you iterate others, you start really mashing up things to get it to where you want it to be for an MVP. We launched an MVP with three or four pilot companies and then started to really put in place our go-to-market strategy.
How different does UJJI look now, compared to when you first started?
Ludmila: So when we launched in October 2022, our offering was around content that was on the starter plan which was generic across all the companies. Then because the methodology was working so well, we started getting requests from the companies asking “Can I put my own training into the platform?”. So this is when we launched the bespoke content, the exclusive parts of the app. This started to really become a huge differentiation from the other platforms for our clients, because they could really engage people learning. Then we started using AI to create this content and this was again a second breakthrough for the product where we started when we launched in September last year. A big problem when you have a SaaS company and you start selling services that are bespoke, you are not scalable anymore because you need a lot of hours to curate the content from the clients and transform into our methodology and plug it in. So we launched UJJI AI last year. Now we can transform the company’s training or general content into bespoke content on the platform. We can just jump on a call with UJJI AI, with the team to create training that goes directly to the user platform. So this is what is really driving our growth, when we understood that we can sell both the starter plan and bespoke content.
Rafael: Yes and we are now working with F+L to improve our UJJI AI, to make this available directly to the customer. Very soon we want this to become a software that the client can jump into and create their content straight away, without our interference.
Rafael and Ludmila at Google HQ in Kings Cross.
Finally, what excites you most about what you’re doing with UJJI?
Ludmila: For me, it's really helping people to put things in print and making them better. When we receive a comment, email or some feedback from the end users that says “Oh I was in a meeting and then I did something because of what I learned on the platform”, this makes it for me. It's being able to deliver something that in the past was very boring and now users come to us and say “Oh, wow. Thank you! I learnt a lot and did X because of the platform”. This for me is the most exciting thing and I imagine scaling this and being able to do this to thousands and millions of people.
Rafael: This has always been an interesting thing between myself and Ludmila. She always feeds herself with feedback from the end users, and I myself feed myself with feedback from the decision makers, given I'm more on the commercial side of things. The other day I did a demo with a company completely which came through inbound. When the demo finished they were like “I just cannot believe that this is true, that you guys actually exist. I have this pain. I didn't know how to solve it, but I just cannot believe that this is actually real”. This makes me really feel like we're on to something big, because when you know that you've hit a pain that is truly painful you just need to continue iterating the solution making it better and better so that ultimately it becomes something that scales. This is what really drives me to get out of bed every single day.
Find out more about UJJI here.