Interview with Rodrigo Rodriguez, Odilo’s CEO, for Especial Directivos (Wolters Kluwer)

“Users have come to call Odilo the Spotify or Netflix of education.”

  1. What is Odilo, and what services do you offer?

Odilo is a B2B2C company positioned in a new category in the education market: Unlimited Learning Ecosystems. 

Odilo allows any organization to create its own fully customized learning ecosystem and offer its users unlimited access to the largest catalog of educational content in the world (3 million titles from over 7000 of the best providers of books, magazines, courses, videos, audiobooks, interactive content, etc.). In addition, the #UnlimitedLearning ecosystem works with artificial intelligence so that the platform, through intelligent profiling features, adapts to the type of user and can create unique learning experiences for each organization. Thanks to a BI system (a module that allows measuring learning hours invested in specific subjects or topics, type of content consumed, etc.), it is possible to fully and constantly customize the ecosystem to each user.  

This is an intelligent platform where you can create, without restrictions, any educational experience, including learning experiences, learning clubs, onboarding plans, and flipped classrooms, among others. We are present in 50 countries, have more than 170 million users, and more than 8 thousand organizations worldwide have already become Unlimited Learners. 

  1. What is your customer profile, which sectors do they belong to?

Odilo adapts to all types of institutions and users. Therefore, our customer profile varies and ranges from the education sector (schools and universities) to the corporate level, governments, or public libraries. 

  1. When and why was the idea of founding Odilo born?

It all started at lunch at home, where we talked about the concept of digitizing a library and amplifying the reach of its content to users. Odilo was born from this idea, and now, after several years, it allows organizations to create their own learning ecosystem and learning experiences. Users have come to call it the Spotify or Netflix of education. 

  1. From your experience as an entrepreneur, do you consider that Spain offers a good ecosystem for entrepreneurship?

Spain is a country that offers ecosystems for entrepreneurs to launch their proposals. It is very gratifying to highlight that this company, with a disruptive model and a great reception, was born in Cartagena.

5. What are the main obstacles or difficulties you faced when founding Odilo? How did you overcome them?

First of all, deciding to start. We did it without a parachute but with a great idea, and it was a challenge because both Michel and I were happy in our jobs at that time. We had to make a decision, so at first, I left the company, which fortunately gave me options to return, while my brother stayed longer. So we supported each other in the first uncertain steps. 

Then, the challenge was that being a disruptive model, we needed content providers to give us their support. We overcame it by realizing that we had to create a marketplace and convince the providers that there was a new model, a new market, and that they should also bet on this idea. 

The business worked very well from the beginning because when we described it to universities, libraries, or the public sector, for example, they quickly saw the potential efficiency and benefits. This gave us a lot of motivation to continue. 

6. What is your business model, and what differentiates you from other companies in the sector?

The business model is based on an annual subscription. What differentiates us is that we shape ecosystems, content, learning experiences, and all this with metrics that allow us to visualize habits, interests, and time spent on the platform on what is happening. We are the largest content aggregator in the world, with 3 million multi-format titles from the best providers. At the same time, we offer the possibility of creating experiences, clubs, or communities, all under the same tool and with absolute control of the data generated by users. 

7. What are the main difficulties you face in growing your sector?

Among them is reaching organizations to help them understand that they must put learning at the center and not as an accessory; that they have to offer educational solutions that are at the same level as what their users demand.

8. How do you think the education sector will evolve in the coming years? What trends will emerge?

Technology is increasingly present in educational methods, and it is a clear trend. Odilo can accompany, with our product and with the service of our Learning Coaches, this evolution so that educational institutions can provide their students with unlimited learning experiences that are in line with the demands of future needs.

9. What has been your balance since the foundation of Odilo in 2012? In what have you had to make more investments?

It has required a strong investment in technology and integration with thousands of suppliers worldwide.

10. What impact is Covid-19’s health crisis having on your activity?

The health crisis has allowed us to put our resources at the service of education and to be a tool for hundreds of children to continue with their education. 

During the confinement, for example, aware of the effects that the closures of schools and educational centers would have on thousands of families around the world due to the spread of the Coronavirus, at ODILO, we showed solidarity and launched a series of actions to help ensure continued education for students, teachers, and families, so we opened all our learning and training technology platforms to institutions anywhere in the world, whether or not they were ODILO customers, to provide access to high-quality educational content and learning solutions. 

We also made our educational consulting teams, dynamization services, and Collaborative Learning Clubs available to families and teachers to ensure that they always have a tool at hand to continue learning from home. We also offered a support and training service for teachers and families through daily webinars to help them become familiar with the platform’s operation and support students more effectively. 

11. What influence do new technologies have on your activity?

New technologies have a significant influence as they allow our service to adapt to each user according to their needs and learning habits and thus offer a personalized experience. 

12. What is the impact of social networks on your activity, and how do you work with these tools?

The impact of social networks is wide since it allows us to keep our followers updated about important moments for Odilo, to give good news, and of course, to keep them informed about our activity. Through LinkedIn, for example, we communicate our success stories and participation in events and news that may be of interest; on Youtube, on the other hand, we tell those stories we want to share or any initiative we are carrying out. 

13. What are your main figures for 2020 and 2021?

The figures show the growth of Odilo, which in that period has gone from 100 million to 170 million users of the Unlimited Learning Ecosystem. 

 14.   Odilo has doubled its global presence in one year, reaching 170 million users worldwide. What are your forecasts for 2022?

To continue reaching more people with a new proposal, an unlimited learning ecosystem that adjusts to the needs of each user and that respects and enhances the particular ways of learning of each person.

15. What are Odilo’s plans and objectives in the short and long term? Do you plan to expand to more countries?

Our goal is to democratize education and give more users access to unlimited learning. We have been attracting customers and suppliers for several years now, and we are at a point where we need to continue to bring Odilo to more countries and keep growing.

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