Speaker spotlight: Juan Lagrange, Sunlight

By Matthew Grenier - on 12/11/2018

In the build-up to our Innovation in Practice 2018 conference, we interviewed Juan Lagrange from Sunlight, one of the keynote speakers at the conference.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m a specialist in technology, specifically educational learning tech. I founded Sunlight in 2016: it’s my second start-up. My first company developed an SAP full school management platform. I’m a computer science major by trade and have been coding since I was 15 years old. I’m a continuous learner, and a self-learner as well. I’m passionate about knowledge, and how you can continually be updating yourself.

What’s the idea behind Sunlight?

We wanted to create the first educational currency, to develop a way to gift education to anyone, anywhere on earth. We found that the best place to start was within companies.

Historically, companies have been bad at stimulating learning. Generally speaking, they install learning management systems, and fill them up with content they create or buy. Every company tends to fill these systems with the same type of content; an introduction to Excel spreadsheets, how to do marketing, how to avoid sexual harassment in the workplace. They end up being more about compliance than providing content that makes people want to learn and develop.

Meanwhile, in the consumer space, learning has been exploding. There are so many ways for people to learn. There’s so much content available, much of it is free to the user, whether it’s audio books, podcasts or videos. People listen or watch and learn as they travel to work, as they walk their dogs, whenever they want. But as soon as they get to work, the learning tends to stop.

Sunlight allows employees to tap into knowledge that’s out there that meets their individual needs. We help employers create profiles for their employees, and then part curate, and part encourage other users to curate, knowledge for them. It might be a podcast. It could be an audio book. It will be knowledge that helps them develop individually in their role.

How much content are we talking about?

Initially we added content from 120 producers, resulting in over 15,000 resources in one place. By encouraging employees to find and add resources for themselves, in just under a year, we’ve tripled the amount of content.

How does it work?

It’s similar to Spotify. You can find out what other people with similar profiles have been reading or listening to, what other courses or masterclasses they’ve done, by looking at the equivalent of their playlists. We encourage you to share resources that you’ve come across and used as well.

You might be a marketer and you need to find out about the implications of GDPR. You can search through Sunlight to find playlists or reading lists created by other marketers and see what they recommend. Or you can search through the resource database. Or you might want to add something that you’ve found about GDPR to the resource library.

Who have you been working with?

Typically, we work with small to medium-sized organisations: anything from 15 to 3,000 employees We’re also working with smaller sized producers of content, helping them to raise their profile, whether for the workshop they’ve run or the course they provide.

What are you looking forward to at the conference?

I’m really interested in learning more about how social housing people think, to see how open they are to changing their culture and become more innovative in practice.

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