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In the information age, Paul Cypher fills a niche he believes had been overlooked: cost-effective, customizable, interactive online training and learning for organizations.
Cypher, 45, first recognized the need for an alternative to expensive classroom-style lectures after managing small training budgets at previous jobs. The impossibility of training a large staff at low cost led him to create CypherWorx Inc., an e-learning business that both reformats mandatory training information into interactive seminars and provides access to an online social environment in which professionals can share knowledge.
"We believe we're the first company to do what we're doing," says Cypher, the CEO.
CypherWorx, which is in Fairport, was incorporated in 2007, but Cypher and his team began working on the company in earnest in 2009.
CypherWorx is organized in two divisions: NP Training Works and CollaborNation. NP Training Works works with non-profits to create branded training websites that visually fit the framework of employers' existing sites. Employees sign in for access to online courses specific to the organization, which may include videos from the CEO or the head of human resources that explain expectations.
Cypher says large national clients such as the YMCA and the National Association of Zoos and Aquariums appreciate the websites CypherWorx creates because they provide consistent training at branches across the country and are inexpensive when compared to classroom training, travel and admission to seminars that may cost up to $500 per person.
"For our clients, the savings are tremendous," he says.
A proponent of a blended approach to learning, Cypher says non-profits often supplement his products with hands-on experiences and team-building activities in person.
CollaborNation, the second branch of CypherWorx, is a combination of social media and learning, designed to resemble familiar sites like LinkedIn and Facebook. While companies can purchase branded CollaborNation sites and pay for their employees to join, individuals can also join the network for $150 a year.
Members have access to more than 190 online learning products, including courses on topics such as use of social media, managerial training and child abuse prevention.
This content comes from providers such as Open Sesame and the Rochester-based Axzo Press, and organizations such as the San Diego Zoo Global Academy, which provides information on specific topics like animal care and more universal ones like customer service. For an extra fee, members can buy access to premium content, which includes 16,000 additional courses from Open Sesame.
What makes CollaborNation different is its ability to provide knowledge through online courses and let professionals in similar fields connect and learn from each other, Cypher says. Part of the philosophy of CollaborNation is that members join with something to teach and learn. Once part of the community, members can discuss issues in their field and ask for solutions to problems.
"As opposed to being a sage on the stage, you're a guide on the side," Cypher says.
CypherWorx added six employees this month, bringing total employment to 17. Ninety percent of CypherWorx's original employees were hired through co-operative programs with Rochester Institute of Technology or Nazareth College of Rochester, which is one of many reasons Cypher cites for keeping his business here.
In 2011, while in testing mode, revenue at CypherWorx was $527,872, but with CollaborNation, NP Training Works and six other partner sites launching in July, Cypher projects revenue of $1.2 million this year.
Kat Lynch is a Rochester Business Journal intern.
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