Virtual Training Centre will be taking part at Innovation Showcase, part of Venturefest Manchester. Director Cathy Wallwork talked to BQ about what the company does, and why innovation is so important.
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Describe your business in no more than 100 words
We are an exciting and relatively new company providing bespoke or accredited eLearning solutions in several diverse industry sectors. In some cases, these online courses are the first of their kind, making us a market-leading startup in the competitive eLearning space.
We contract 12 course authors, all of whom are proven leading experts in their particular fields to assist us in the design and build of our courses. We work collaboratively to effectively market and sell these online courses to our collective customers.
What prompted you to enter the Innovation Showcase competition? Describe the innovation that you’ve entered the showcase with.
After accessing support from the Business Growth Hub, we were introduced to their Innovations team. We heard about the competition from our assigned specialist; it sounded like a unique and exciting opportunity to showcase our innovative courses.
We have showcased our maritime and personal security courses as our part of our innovation.
Everyone who works on board, or frequents a ship often, must possess a certain level of security training. The two courses we currently provide online which are fully approved by the UK Department for Transport Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) are:
· The Proficiency in Security Awareness (PSA) which is the minimum requirement, and
· The Proficiency in Designated Security Duties, for those personnel assigned specific security duties on board ISPS Compliant ships, and Armed Maritime Security Operatives.
However, our online courses cross multiple sectors, as we seek to plug gaps in the eLearning market for our audience. One of our other innovative products is an online Personal Security Awareness for Students & Young People Travelling Abroad Course. It provides the learner with necessary information on maintaining a heightened sense of personal security whilst travelling overseas .
How would you describe that to a novice?
At present, the primary focus of our training is aligned with the maritime sector and we have developed two fully online, mandatory courses that have been accredited by the UK Department for Transport, Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA).
We are looking to sell these courses to shipping companies and companies working offshore including mobile offshore drilling ships.
Within the personal security sector, we have created a Personal Security Awareness course for students and young travellers. This is focused on young people and students working abroad and people taking gap years, providing them with information to mitigate the risks of security related incidents.
What are the biggest challenges you face?
Making our customers aware of the training that we are able to offer online. We are looking to work with shipping and cruise companies and need to be able to show that we are able to deliver quality, interactive and user-friendly courses with an excellent customer service support.
Developing online courses is very labour intensive; as such, we are finding it challenging to create courses as quickly as we would like to. There are lots of very relevant courses that we have not yet been able to create within the anti-terrorism and anti-kidnap sector, but these are in the early development stages.
What are your biggest professional achievements to date?
I have many professional achievements that I’m proud of and probably the best to date is setting up and building an eLearning company. It has been a challenging time, having to manage with limited budgets, putting administrative and financial processes and procedures in place and establishing relationships with both clients and course authors. I have drawn on 20 years’ previous experience where I worked for myself offering business support to company owners and this has been invaluable in giving me the confidence in my role as a business owner for Virtual Training Centre.
How do you feel about exhibiting to potentially hundreds of people at Venturefest Manchester?
I’m both excited and nervous about the presentation, although I believe it will be a great opportunity to inform companies located in the north west about the type of online training we offer.
What would winning the Innovation Showcase mean to your business?
Winning the competition would be fantastic for us. Apart from the prestige of winning our very first award, it would provide validation that we have successfully translated our vision to a large audience. As we seek to raise awareness about our online learning solutions, we would benefit immensely from the PR that comes with winning such an award, especially as it’s right at the start of our exciting journey.
Where do you see your company in five years time?
We are aspiring to be perceived as a specialist eLearning provider, with expertise in providing online training solutions in several diverse categories. We want to be widely recognised for our quality courses using up–to-date, interactive technology, backed by excellent customer support. We are planning to have partners in several countries, all working to promote the ethos of Virtual Training Centres’ vision of excellence.
What advice would you give to aspiring innovators?
Once you recognise that you possess a commercial product that you truly believe you can take to market, have faith in it and never give up. Address any negative feedback in a constructive manner and apply it as a part of the process of defining your idea. Things very rarely go to plan, so don’t be put off. Access any support that you can and there is a lot out there if you know where to look. The Business Growth Hub have been invaluable in helping and supporting us and we’re looking forward to continue to work with them into the future.
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