LOVELAND — Tenured college professor Jeff Lewis wanted to coach his online students on their soft skills, but in the 1990s, his options were cumbersome.
Lewis came up with a way to help his Metro State University and other students with a video-based assessment company of soft skills, launching YouSeeUin 2009, a dba of eduPresent LLC in Loveland.
Today, YouSeeU serves students, employees and anyone else who wants to improve their public speaking, communication, collaboration, critical thinking and other soft skills. They gain knowledge and get feedback through video assessments and courses, coaching, peer reviews and personalized training. The offerings are geared to K-12 schools, higher education institutions and companies needing corporate training.
“He came up with an easier way to demonstrate soft skills on video, so he could provide feedback and coaching in timely manner,” said Margaret Amisano, marketing director of YouSeeU, which recently moved into the old Madwire LLC space at 222 E. Fourth St. in downtown Loveland.
Originally, Lewis, chief product officer for YouSeeU, who holds a doctorate in human capital and resource development, had students record themselves and mail in their homework, and he provided written feedback after the end of the semester.
“Up to this point, there was not a scalable way to assess soft skills,” Amisano said, pointing to traditional assessment methods of multiple choice and essays.
Lewis saw a problem in distance education — how to give feedback to students from miles away to help them improve their presentation and other skills. As technology advanced, he could use video assignment technology and virtual classroom capabilities to improve his assessment process and cut back on the time it takes to practice and achieve those skills.
“We’ve been doing this the longest,” said Jay Dokter, chief executive officer of YouSeeU. “We approached it from the student’s or professor’s perspective and built it around learning. We’re the best at capturing an environment where learning and education happens.”
The material is presented in key skills demonstrations and activities such as role plays, and there are oral quizzes and exams to test knowledge gained. Users can record themselves individually or in a live meeting, or two users can log into a live event.
“Part of the growth is the acceptance of online classes and also the use of video,” Dokter said, adding that another factor of success comes from tailoring the teaching and training of students’ lifestyles, engaging in 24-7 learning.
YouSeeU is offered in six languages in more than 60 countries. It started in the Innosphere incubator in Fort Collins in 2012 and 2013, received funding from the Colorado Angels that are part of the Rockies Venture Club in 2013 and 2014, and then moved to The Warehouse Business Accelerator in Loveland before moving into its own facility earlier this year, though remaining part of the program.
Revenue grew 457 percent from $718,600 in 2015 to more than $4 million in 2017. The employee base also increased from six to 50 in the last three years.
“We’re very particular about who we hire,” Dokter said. “Because we’ve grown so fast, it’s important for us. … Our team is one of the best.”
By Shelley Widhalm —