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 January 1, 1998

Digital Creators delivering training, education via Net

BOULDER — A company here is capitalizing on the popularity of the Web to build a multimillion-dollar education and training business — developing training tools to “deliver education any place, any time,” according to one of the founders.

Digital Creators Inc. was founded five years ago, primarily by University of Colorado faculty, to provide on-line training for corporations and on-line education for universities and their students. The company had $2.6 million in revenues this year, and already has been approached several times with buyout offers, according to Mark Schroeder, chief executive officer and co-founder.

“Basically, we provide training and education through a digital format for corporations and academic settings, particularly higher education,” Schroeder said. For corporations, training is delivered either via CD-ROM or internal corporate computer networks called “intranets.”

University courses are delivered via the Web.

The company’s work for corporations is “essentially work-for-hire,” Schroeder said, which provides the revenues for Digital Creators to produce their own university course products.

Worldwide, corporate training is a multibillion-dollar business, according to Marc Landy, chief financial officer of Street Technologies, one of Digital Creators’ chief competitors. Street has production offices in Golden, with corporate and marketing headquarters in White Plains, N.Y.

Because of the mobility and decentralization of much of today’s work force, Internet- based training is increasingly attractive to companies. The business is relatively new, “but growing by leaps and bounds,” Landy said.

Digital Creators has developed “one of the largest intranet applications for GTE,” Schroeder said, “and we are working with Northrop Grummond on computer-based training to help employees operate automated equipment to build jets.”

The company’s in-house development products are academically oriented. Three of the four principals of the company came out of the academy — Schroeder, CEO; David Stirts, art director and co-founder; and Scott Brown, chief financial officer. Schroeder, in fact, is still on the humanities faculty at CU.

Among the academic courses the company has provided are a master’s degree in business communications for the Jones Cable International University. In 1996, Schroeder said, those Web sites won the Envision gold medal award for best Web site in higher education.

“We’re now producing a series of courses on-line in public affairs for the University of Colorado in Denver.”

They’ve also developed master’s programs in network engineering, information science, and courses in programming in Java, Perl and other computer languages.

Digital has developed a “series of management tracking tools that are the infrastructure,” Schroeder said, that keep track of administration and of the students as thy work their way through courses.

“We license the courses out to universities and corporations. We get a revenue stream on a per-student basis — anywhere from $100 to $500 per student.

“It’s hard to put a figure on the total market,” Schroeder said. “The next century is the century of knowledge workers.’ The audience for the courses is tremendous … We believe we can go to a corporation and improve their training vehicles. We can improve their productivity and lower their costs for training.

“The potential with the convergence of technologies is tremendous. It’s not limited to the domestic market, either,” Schroeder said. His company is in discussion with companies in Japan, Malaysia and Mexico.

Digital has 42 employees, and anticipates have about 70 by March 1998.

“Our goal is to become known as the high-end developer for academic and training courseware on the net. We’re very interested in the quality of our product. It’s on a par with anything offered by the best of our universities.”

Street Technologies Landy agrees that net-based options can improve corporate training. Street was founded three yeas ago by Steve Gott, former chief operating officer at Lehman Brothers.

Landy said, “In his tenure there, he had the responsibility for billions of dollars of technology acquisition — PCs, trading and sales systems. He observed that he couldn’t get his people trained quickly enough. The reason was that you couldn’t get people to go to a typical stand-up training course.

“At the same time, people didn’t always remember what they’d learned.

So he needed a way to continually refresh their memory. He needed animation, graphics and audio. They needed to see it and hear it each time,” Landy said.

“Also, most people don’t like to read. So you have to help them learn it.”

Street provides most of its training via the Internet, which allows people to tap into it at virtually any time from any location — a hotel room when they’re traveling, or their offices.

BOULDER — A company here is capitalizing on the popularity of the Web to build a multimillion-dollar education and training business — developing training tools to “deliver education any place, any time,” according to one of the founders.

Digital Creators Inc. was founded five years ago, primarily by University of Colorado faculty, to provide on-line training for corporations and on-line education for universities and their students. The company had $2.6 million in revenues this year, and already has been approached several times with buyout offers, according to Mark Schroeder, chief executive officer and co-founder.

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