Creating a smarter workforce: an interview with the founder of Achieved
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June 16, 2014

Employers are often reluctant to give their staff the chance to improve their skills. It’s expensive, they say. It wastes company time and it gives the employee the chance to find a better job.

But more and more employers are learning that this isn’t always true. In fact it’s rarely ever true.

Individuals that strive to learn and be challenged are always the best employees. Providing these employees with the means to improve their skills doesn’t just give them better skills. It gives them a reason to stay in the company.

That’s why employers like mobile games developer Wooga are giving their employees €1500 a year, which they can spend however they want to further their (work-relevant) skills.

With its forthcoming mobile and desktop platform, Achieved aims to make personal development easier, cheaper and more effective for both invididuals and companies. Co-founder and CEO Rob Hermans explains their concept.

WebMagazin: Tell us a little bit about Achieved, how does it work?

Herman: Achieved is an online personal development plan that helps (young) professionals grow their skills and have a great career. We offer many different skills such as public speaking and time management. For each skill we give you a checklist of learning goals you need to complete to become a real expert.

Activity suggestions such as books, video’s, MOOC’s and articles help you in achieving these learning goals. The great thing is that Achieved has a big social component. You can see the books your colleagues are reading and the courses they are attending.

By making learning more open and transparant, you are extra motivated to invest in yourself. This works much in the same way as apps like Strava and Runkeeper motivate you exercise more.


WebMagazin: What would you say makes Achieved a special startup?

Herman: We really believe we are part of the next generation of enterprise software. The lines between employees and employers are beginning to blur more and more. This means that the enterprise software of the future will be very similar to the consumer software of today.

We build a product that directly adds value to every single professional, whether your company uses Achieved or not. As a side effect it can help organisations develop their workforce more effectively and save costs on trainings. Thats why they want to pay us for it.

WebMagazin: What stage of development are you in at the moment? How are you being funded?

Herman: We are currently in private beta and run a number of pilots within organisations. Especially companies in fast moving industries such as internet and gaming are interested in Achieved. They have a constant challenge to keep the skills of their employees up to date.

We are launching a public version of Achieved within a few weeks. You can already sign up at

We are pre-seed funding by a number of angels and Startupbootcamp Berlin. At this moment we are raising our seed round.

WebMagazin: What’s the financial concept behind Achieved and how do you plan on making money?

Herman: Achieved is free to use for individuals. Everybody can start developing their skills at zero cost. For companies that want to include their own learning activities such as internal courses and presentations, we offer paid business accounts

WebMagazin: How did you come up with the idea for Achieved?

Herman: I was working in a large organisation and was very dissatisfied with my development. There was just not enough freedom and the stuff that I was obliged to learn was outdated or irrelevant. I needed a way to learn the stuff that I found important and show to the world that I could do more than my CV communicated. I believe that making all your informal leaning activities visible to the world is really valuable.

WebMagazin: And what were you doing before then?

Herman: Many different things. I started as a trainee and consultant in finance, got really bored and looked for a new challenge. I was lucky and got the opportunity to set up an accelerator program for game startups in the Netherlands. This proved to be the perfect launchpad to start my own business only a year later.

Feature image: Many students raising their hands in class for an answer via Shutterstock / copyright: Robert Kneschk

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