Learning with Experts

Learning with Experts, which has accessed finance and workspace through Oxford Innovation to help it grow, is a rising star in the edtech market.

Going from strength to strength since 2015, the company is proving just how life-changing learning can be through its pioneering online learning platform and latest partnership with the NHS.

Online learning platform in use

Transforming lives and minds
The Oxford-based online learning company is using its innovative learning platform to improve people’s physical and mental health by providing healthy ageing and lifestyle courses to groups of individuals addressing long-term health conditions.

The first course, Live Longer Better, was developed by the former Chief Knowledge Officer for the NHS, Sir Muir Gray, to extend healthy living further into old age and help people make positive lifestyle changes. The course helps empower individuals to take a preventative approach to their own health and wellbeing.  

Learning with Experts delivers an immersive classroom community, bringing people together online to learn from expert tutors and peers. Utilising human interaction to eliminate the isolation of distance learning, classmates interact with real experts and each other in small, supportive classes. Courses include high-quality video lessons with downloadable materials and interactive projects or tasks.

The path of an entrepreneur is never what you think it will be. The ability to adapt and change in response to unforeseen challenges and economic changes is vital. Which is why Oxford Innovation is an essential component to support you on your growth journey."

Elspeth Briscoe, CEO, Learning with Experts

A rising star
The inspiration behind Learning with Experts came nearly 10 years ago when its founder and CEO, Elspeth Briscoe decided to retrain as a landscape designer after working in senior management roles for tech giants eBay and Skype.

While studying for a Masters in Garden Design, she was astounded by how little education had changed. With her background in technology, she decided to put her fellow students on Skype to enable them to interact and share knowledge. The outcome? Her class achieved the best results in 25 years of the course. It was then Learning with Experts was born.

A rising star in the rapidly growing global Edtech market, which is expected to be worth $585 billion by 2027,* the Learning with Experts platform initially launched with horticultural courses. This was quickly followed by photography and jewellery courses with world renowned experts. Next came prestigious cooking courses with well-known chefs Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Michel Roux Jnr. In fact, the online cookery diploma developed with River Cottage is the first online cookery course to be accredited by the Independent Cookery Schools Association (ICSA) and CPD.

Changing attitudes to online courses, Elspeth Briscoe explains:

“In the past, there has been scepticism around how practical courses could be successfully delivered online, but we have an incredible library of content. We have 80% completion rates. Most edtech companies have 80% drop out rates.”

Today, the innovative learning platform delivers 100,000 lessons in 86 countries. In addition to its consumer courses, it is fast becoming the partner of choice for companies who wish to deliver online courses for their own staff or customers as Learning with Experts offers white labelled classrooms that can be branded specifically for individual companies.

Elspeth Briscoe, CEO of Learning with Experts

Accessing space to innovate and collaborate
The company’s growth journey has been an education in itself for the company’s founder. One that may have been more challenging without early stage support from Oxford Innovation, which provides SMEs with the advice, finance and space they need to succeed.

After initially running the business from her home, Elspeth moved operations into the Oxford Centre for Innovation, which is managed by Oxford Innovation Space on behalf of the Oxford Trust. One of Oxford’s leading start-up communities, the centre offers flexible workspace solutions for early-stage businesses specialising in science and technology.

This was a key moment for the business and one that introduced the team to a network of support to help them accelerate their growth. Elspeth explains:

“Oxford Innovation has helped us at various stages of our business journey and in many ways. Their holistic approach was really important as it provided us with access to a suite of support, information and people. All key parts of the jigsaw you need as an SME.

Being based in one of their innovation centres has helped us develop as a team, network with other businesses, brainstorm ideas and make valuable connections. I’ve met some really influential people at their events. Plus, the flexible meeting space and having people to handle some of the admin, like our post, in the early days was really beneficial. It’s important that SMEs like us are supported as we are making a huge impact on society and communities.”

Accessing finance to grow and scale
The support didn’t end there. Oxford Innovation was able to help Elspeth access finance to drive the business forward, develop the digital platform and hire key talent. Learning with Experts successfully raised external investment through the company’s Oxford Investment Opportunities Network (OION Ltd) following an investor showcase pitch. To date, Learning with Experts has been through four rounds of investment totalling £4m and now employs 14 people as well as freelancers.

“Like many business owners, I had no knowledge of finance and how to raise investment when I first started out,” reveals Elspeth. “The support we received from Oxford Innovation Finance and its angel investment network has been incredibly important as it is not just about the money raised. It is also about the quality of investors. Our investors have added value through their experience, knowledge and networks.”  

Helping SMEs succeed
As the UK’s outstanding provider of business support to SMEs, Oxford Innovation Advice was also quick to recognise the potential of the platform to deliver bitesize courses to busy business owners. Working closely with the Learning with Experts team, the company has produced a series of video tutorials to help business leaders on its Access to Finance programme develop essential financial management skills.

And Elspeth has some advice for other early stage businesses:

“The path of an entrepreneur is never what you think it will be. You need tenacity to keep going. The ability to adapt and change in response to unforeseen challenges and economic changes is vital. Which is why Oxford Innovation is an essential component to support you on your growth journey.”

* Statistic taken from the Online Education Market Report 2022.