Jessica Diehl began Gettysburg-based Knovex LLC by consulting for companies while she figured out what her next step in life would be.
Her background is in higher education, most recently at Lehigh University doing curriculum development, and she has a love for technology.
The latter became a key part of her work putting together training programs for businesses, using her career experience as she realized how e-learning options could be leveraged to make them more effective and efficient.
"(The vision) just kind of happened while I was figuring it out," said Diehl, managing principal of the firm, which has five employees and more than a dozen consultants.
Knovex has expanded steadily into a market in which the company has not yet realized the full potential of developing training options for organizations, she said.
Expansion has included opening a satellite office in Washington, D.C., Diehl said.
A company in this niche has at least two things going for it nowadays. One is the advancement in technology that allows quicker turnaround times and less-expensive options for businesses, Diehl said.
Some clients had considered e-learning options previously but might have been scared away by a $100,000 sticker price and a development time of nearly a year, she said.
With advancements, a comparable program could be constructed in a few weeks in the $10,000 range, Diehl said.
"It truly is accessible at different price points," she said.
The other advantage is a focus on how training within corporations, nonprofits and governmental agencies can be done more efficiently, Diehl said.
Instead of bringing in a speaker for a day every time there are new employees, for example, a firm can record a video and have supporting Web-based resources to roll out any time they are needed, she said.
It doesn't matter whether there are 20 people who do the training or 2,000. The cost remains the same, she said. And the people taking the training can do so at any time and on demand, whether it's on their lunch breaks or at night on their couches at home, Diehl said.
By contrast, each time training is needed in person, there are speakers' fees, full days when employees aren't working and the need to print supporting materials, she said.
That being said, these techniques are not something Knovex pushes on clients. The company instead takes a holistic approach, combining traditional training with technology options as they fit into each client's unique needs, Diehl said.
For example, a webinar can cover simple background, and in-person time can be reserved for discussing more advanced concepts.
"It's just not technology for technology's sake," she said.
Diehl said she does not have a formal background in technology but loves social media and teaching herself how to use software.
She's fortunate that she's at a point that the company has hired people more skilled at that side than she is, but Diehl said she still loves playing around with an option every time a new e-learning tool comes out.
One interesting area of growth is with companies that have already ventured into e-learning options internally but might be looking to take it to the next level, she said.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation used Knovex for a program to teach executive managers skills to inform and engage audiences, said Jamie Legenos, information specialist with the agency.
It found Knovex's proposal to be the best option, based on cost and what the agency wanted to accomplish, and it led to an effective program that combined multimedia and in-person training components, she said.
The Gettysburg Convention & Visitors Bureau is working with Knovex to develop a training program for front-line hospitality workers in Adams County ahead of the 150th anniversaries of the Battle of Gettysburg and Gettysburg Address next year, bureau President Norris Flowers said.
The target demographic is anyone who works for a hospitality business in the county and interacts with the public. The bureau hopes that many of the county's thousands of hospitality employees use the program once it rolls out in the spring, he said.
Considering the influx of additional visitors who might be getting their first impressions of the destination during the anniversaries, the bureau felt it was a good time to develop this program to maximize those opportunities, Flowers said.
The bureau has done more traditional, in-person training in the past, but it was difficult for people to make it at certain times, and numbers often dwindled partway through multiple-day trainings, he said.
The bureau searched for a firm to develop a new training program option, thinking online learning could be a component, and selected Knovex, Flowers said.
Although still in development, the working plan includes a video followed up by hypothetical situations requiring program takers to apply their learning, he said.
The hypotheticals will be based on actual examples from hospitality entities in Adams County, and that's why it was especially important to work with a company such as Knovex that can offer completely customized solutions instead of an adaptable template.
Upon successful completion of the training, participants can print out their own a certificate, Flowers said.
When the program is finished, the bureau will own it outright, allowing stakeholders to keep using it in the future.
"I think this is going to pay huge rewards," he said. "And I'm confident that this is a program we will offer for a long time, well past 2013."