(Photo by Flickr user West Point - The U.S. Military Academy, used under a Creative Commons license)
Free online cybersecurity training course provider Cybrary initially launched in January 2015. By April 2016, when the Greenbelt-based company raised a seed round of $1.3 million, its platform had around 500,000 registered users.
It’s now clear that the company’s growth has gone into overdrive — it is celebrating one million registered users with a party later this week.
We got on the phone with cofounder Ryan Corey to ask what’s behind all this growth.
Corey is “not all that surprised,” he said, about the growth. Since its founding, Cybrary has seen most new users arrive via word of mouth, and that has turned into a beneficial cycle for the company. The more users on the platform, the more likely the company is to see even more new users joining.
Beyond good peer-to-peer marketing, though, Cybrary has focused in on various improvements that keep users around and coming back, Corey said. For example, since raising seed money, they’ve streamlined the user experience, made the site faster and developed more courses. In contrast to Cybrary’s first year where all course content was developed in-house, the company is now placing an emphasis on a kind of “open-source” model.
This means that companies developing new cybersecurity technologies can create their own Cybrary courses to teach potential practitioners. It also means users themselves can apply to teach courses on the site. This is something Cybrary will continue to focus on moving forward.
“We just feel like it makes a more dynamic learning environment,” Corey said.
The ways in which registered users engage with Cybrary differs (they may be brushing up for an upcoming exam, for example, or looking to learn a specific new skill. This generally translates to users spending lots of time on the site over the course of three to five weeks). But by keeping the content on the site fresh, Corey and his team hope to get those one million users returning often. Last month, he said, around 200,000 people took a course on the site.