Spotlight: How One Company Named After a Micro-Organism Is Transforming eLearning

This Company Named After a Micro-Organism Is Transforming eLearning

The concept of eLearning has become more important than ever in 2020. But many platforms still do not meet the needs of companies that want to train and educate their employees. At least, that’s what the founders of Water Bear Learning discovered.

Water Bear Learning – Small Business Spotlight

Now, they’re on a mission to change that through engaging solutions and high quality designs. Learn more about their offerings below in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.

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What the Business Does

Creates engaging training programs for businesses.

Co-founder Andrew DeBell told Small Business Trends, “With a focus on system and process implementations, we partner with clients to develop creative, engaging and purposeful training. We combine our unique skill-sets in instructional design, marketing and visual design to create a holistic training experience for learners.”

Business Niche

Efficient communication and pleasing visual design.

DeBell says, “We pride ourselves on fast, efficient communication with all of our clients. You’re not just paying for a training program. You’re paying for extremely efficient communication and a team that is guaranteed to meet deadlines. We turn projects around quickly and understand how to make our clients look good.”

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He adds, “Using our background in marketing and graphic design, we understand the importance of visual design in training. Visual design isn’t only about making things look pretty. It’s about creating a visually-engaging program to enhance a user-experience. We use UX best practices in all of our custom training experiences.”

How the Business Got Started

By combining skill sets.

DeBell says, “We are a husband and wife team that decided to combine our skill sets in 2017 to create Water Bear Learning. Caryn’s background is heavy in consulting, having worked at Accenture and Slalom as a training and organizational effectiveness consultant. Andrew’s background is in digital marketing and content development.”

Biggest Win

Landing a client at the perfect time.

DeBell explains, “Our biggest win was in 2018. The business was just over a year old and was struggling financially. We were considering throwing in the towel and going back to look for jobs internally at other companies. Then, one of our contacts came through. She needed a training consultant to come help with a content development project. We could get started the next month. While this event seems small, it saved our business from going under. It provided a lifeline for us to continue growing. Without this win, we wouldn’t be in the place we were today.”

Biggest Risk

Moving and starting a business.

DeBell says, “Both me and Caryn quit our jobs, started a business, and moved overseas to Asia. Our plan was to find clients in the US and work remote from overseas. This worked for a short period of time. But it was not sustainable with the vast difference in time zones. And we had no credibility to sign new clients or find new work.

“This ultimately resulted in us moving back to the US to establish our business here. And the results of that have been extremely successful. If we were to do this again, we would have started the company in the US and stayed in the US as we built our network and client base”

Lesson Learned

Start in a market you know.

DeBell adds, “The most difficult part is getting off the ground; starting from zero clients. And the best way to overcome this is to start with your own network. We started our business and left our personal network. And that wasn’t the best idea, from a business perspective. If we were to do this again, we would start our business and stay in one city.”

How They’d Spend an Extra $100,000

Various growth strategies.

DeBell says, “We would look to bring on another full-time employee, build a product, and use any extra money toward our digital marketing strategy.”

Company Namesake

A micro-organism.

DeBell explains, “We named our company after our favorite micro-organism, the tardigrade. And many people ask us about our name. Here’s our explanation of why we like tardigrades so much:

“A water bear, or tardigrade, is the world’s most indestructible organism. They can survive for thirty years without food or water and can sustain extreme temperatures up to 150° Celsius. They can even survive in the frozen vacuum of space (which no other earth-dwelling creature can claim!). Tardigrades have the ability to survive any catastrophe that would wipe out all other forms of life on planet Earth.

“The resiliency of the water bear can be applied both to our learning philosophy and our company work ethic. Like the water bear, learning a new skill takes mental toughness, persistence, and durability. In challenging times water bears become physically drained, but then turn things around and persist to success. Similarly, we believe you must continue to challenge yourself to move closer to mastery.”

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Image: Water Bear Learning, Caryn and Andrew DeBell Comment ▼

Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends, covering entrepreneur profiles, interviews, feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. When she’s not writing she can be found exploring all that her home state of Michigan has to offer.

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