How Tigerhall’s Nellie Wartoft Plans To Kill Off The MBA: “My work here will be done the day an 18-year-old planning their career downloads Tigerhall instead of filling out a university application,” says Nellie Wartoft, founder and CEO of the Singapore-based social learning app. Tigerhall, a two-year-old start-up with relationships with some of the world’s most recognisable firms, is launching in the United States today, and Wartoft is on a mission to rid the world of “useless MBA courses.”

It’s a bold sales presentation based on Wartoft’s personal experience. She left her native town in Sweden at the age of 18, purchasing a one-way ticket to Singapore with the goal of pursuing a business career. But for many years, Wartoft’s objectives were stymied; she felt her university course had failed her, and when she graduated, she lacked both the skills she thought she required and the network of contacts and mentors who could help her obtain them.

Furthermore, in the years after college, she worked in the recruitment industry, where she saw an increasing number of people hampered by the same challenges. “I watched individuals struggle to achieve dream jobs time after time because they lacked the essential skills from their school investments,” she says.

At the same time, Wartoft was dismayed by the poor quality of training materials available to many businesses. “You were supposed to sit through interminable movies, all of which were guided by white-haired elderly men who had no idea what they were talking about and had never led a team.”

In 2019, Wartoft developed Tigerhall, based on the concept that if no one else is delivering what the market truly requires, you have a golden opportunity to do it. She refers to it as “social learning,” describing it as an app-based platform that allows subscribers to access bite-sized knowledge from recognised experts in various disciplines. As of today, the site has roughly 1,300 instances of this content, including podcasts, livestreams, films, and “power reads,” all of which are produced by “think-fluencers,” as defined by Wartoft.

The objective is to give the type of content that consumers are accustomed to in other aspects of their digital lives. Subscribers can watch these brief videos, which last on average 15 minutes, whenever it is convenient for them, such as when waiting for the bus, doing the dishes, or going for a run.

Anyone who uses TikTok or similar social media sites will be familiar with this type of content, which Wartoft refers to as “micro-moments.” According to Wartoft, competing learning resources need users to log in for hours at a time and finish long courses. Consuming much shorter types of content, she argues, is a lot superior method. Tigerhall users appear to agree — Wartoft cites statistics indicating that the average Tigerhall user spends 43 minutes per week learning, nearly twice as much as the average professional.

Tigerhall’s think-fluencers include some well-known figures, which helps. Ted Osius, the former US Ambassador to Vietnam and Google’s vice president of public policy, Zarina Lam Stanford, Rackspace Technology’s senior communications and marketing officer, and Roger Fisk, a long-time adviser to former US President Barack Obama, are among the experts who contributed content.

For the time being, Tigerhall’s business strategy is focused on corporations looking to improve their employees’ learning experiences. Businesses pay monthly membership fees to use the programme, which vary depending on the number of employees they want to enrol. The company’s leaders may then tailor learning plans for their employees, directing them to content on topics such as leadership, digital transformation, and sales, for example, based on their needs and knowledge gaps. Managers can also keep track on their workers’ progress.

It’s a notion that appears to have a lot of traction among major corporations. Over the last year, revenue has increased tenfold, with Spotify, HP, and Cisco among the company’s top clients. A group led by Sequoia Capital has also invested more than $3 million in the startup.

Tigerhall’s reach will be extended, according to Wartoft, by expanding into the United States, which will include putting personnel on the ground and targeting US expertise to develop more material. In the long run, she envisions it moving toward a more business-to-consumer model, with individuals subscribing for themselves rather than via their organisations. It’s exactly the kind of resource she needed – and didn’t have – at the start of her career. She contends that “where you come from should never get in the way of where you want to go,” and that “success in today’s competitive business world depends on information sharing and community support.”

It is, without a doubt, a daring vision. “What we are seeing today in the professional development space is a sad state of affairs: consumer behaviour and business best practises have evolved tremendously in recent times, but the majority of the tools provided are unengaging, uninspiring, and provide more yawns than eureka moments,” Wartoft insists. “We want to make social learning the default mode of learning and obviate the need for traditional corporate learning programmes.”


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