Perth-based startup Velpic (an acronym for Video E-Learning in Platform In The Cloud) launched in July 2014.

Being based in Western Australia, mining capital of Australia, Velpic was able to take advantage during the mining boom of an issue that faced a lot of the companies working in that sector.

“We were asked to create a lot of graphic design type of work to build video-based inductions for companies,” says CEO Russell Francis.

At that point in time, there were thousands of new and rotating employees in the space and training exercises such as inductions were being presented in a ‘traditional’ format – a crowded room and death-by-powerpoint. Employers were aware of the lack of engagement that accompanied this and wanted to explore the option of having a tool that they would be able to use to present video-based training.

“The real thing that differentiated Velpic, and where the whole real idea of the company came from, was the ability for us to allow customers to edit that training once it had been created,” says Francis.

“It’s creative, video-based training that is editable – it’s multimedia. You get to go on the platform and with your pictures, text and sound put it all together and create your animated movies and presentations out of that. That’s where it started and that’s evolved significantly since then, we’re a full blown Learning Management System (LMS) now, which allows you to create and distribute training as a video-based format to anyone, anywhere in the world.”

Francis has been a computer programmer for over 25 years. In the mid-nineties he moved from Western Australia over to the United Kingdom and launched a software firm over there that people and companies that wanted to build big, robust, scalable online systems would go to in order to get the build completed.

After growing to over 120 staff and millions of pounds in revenue, Francis’ company was acquired by a corporation based in Silicon Valley.

“I moved back to Perth after nearly ten years away – the old reverse brain drain,” says Francis. Being a relatively popular success at that point in time, Francis began to see an increase in the requests he was getting for coffees and catch ups to discuss potential opportunities.

“I decided ‘well, maybe it is time to have a look at one of these things when I get these options,’ and one of them was the two guys who conceived the idea for Velpic.”

“It wasn’t called that back in the day, it was called The Inductor, and that’s what it was for, it was purely just a simple little video creation tool to create inductions for people going up to work in the mines in Western Australia and that’s when I got involved and they asked me if I wanted to become an equity holder in the business. Pretty soon after that I became the CEO and then we redesigned the entire platform as a SaaS-based platform, put it all into the cloud and added the LMS features.”

18 months after building the first version and launching the platform he led the company through a backdoor listing on the ASX, raised $4 million in that process and expanded their operation internationally.

When Velpic took out its award at the last Talent Unleashed Event, he said that it was completely unexpected but extremely exciting.

“I was invited to the award ceremony to meet Sir Richard Branson and I thought, ‘wow, that’s really amazing but incredibly daunting at the same time, I don’t even know if I want that,'” says Francis.

“It makes me very uneasy in those sorts of situations I guess, I like to remain behind the scenes a bit, but you’ve got to put yourself out there as a CEO of a public company and we were heading towards becoming a public company at that stage. So I thought, ‘right, grit teeth Russ, off you go, do the best you can,’ and went to the award ceremony, which was a fantastic experience. I got up there, did my presentation to the guys, didn’t win the overall prize, but definitely won the Most Disruptive CIO/CTO, which was the one that I was gunning for, that’s what I felt had the most credence; it was the most validation of the concept that I had taken to market, which was Velpic.”

Francis says that he happily recommends the Talent Unleashed Awards to anyone suitable, because from a business point of view being part of the awards – and especially winning on the night – will not only help your business story reach the masses, it also provides you with a growing alumni of strong future business relationships to be connected with.

“It was great to win that award,” says Francis.  

“But from the business point of view, it was fantastic because it was just a month before we went public, it got us a whole heap of PR and that wasn’t my intention going into it.”

Know a CIO / CTO or Technology Leader doing exceptional things? Nominate them or enter yourself to be recognised by Talent’s judges Steve Wozniak and Richard Branson in the 2016 Talent Unleashed Awards.

Featured Image: Russell Francis | Source: Provided.

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