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A Lesson in Success

The company: CADD Train develops and delivers computer-based training for AutoCAD, the world’s most popular design and drafting software.

The mission: To orchestrate the evolution of the CADD Train website from a basic ecommerce site into a fully-integrated distance learning destination featuring on-demand courseware.

Lots of people dream of escaping the rat race. But for most it remains a pipe dream. Kevin Brown, founder of CADD Train, was able to turn his day dreams into reality by coming up with a great idea and getting Mastermynde on board to help him develop his vision.

Phase one of CADD Train has been a great success and since the summer of 2006, hundreds of students have completed the training courses. With the recent introduction of a technologically advanced site, the company is ready to meet new customer demand and compete aggressively with business rivals.

Freedom to Prosper

Kevin Brown had been teaching for over a decade and ran the AutoCAD training program at George Brown College in Toronto. With a young family and itchy feet he was keen to escape the stresses and irritations of city life. But while he wanted the independent lifestyle he wasn’t ready to downsize his bank account.

He saw the potential for distance learning and he believed that with the right website he could make money. “The AutoCAD training that I’ve developed since the early 1990s has a really good reputation. It is head and shoulders above most other training programs. I wanted the website to be able to connect the students around the world and offer them a chance to get the same training that I was offering people through the George Brown College.”

When Kevin initially considered his options for digital course ware he knew a purely virtual business wasn’t feasible due to the limitations of the web. So he started off by staying put in Toronto and keeping things simple. He supplied his digital tutorials for AutoCAD on CD Rom and later DVD.

He had a working knowledge of basic web design but to create a more professional site he looked to Leif Jason, Creative Director of Mastermynde because he knew he could “add the magic behind the site.” The original CADD Train website acted as an international storefront for the architects, engineers and design students who needed to master AutoCAD to succeed in their chosen fields. It had a lecture note sample, a video demo and a PayPal cart.

Students logged onto a secure area to submit their work and to access any course updates. Kevin marked the work online before returning it with comments attached. In less than 18 months more than 200 satisfied students graduated from the course.

Building Business Momentum

With the company established, it was time to take the concept to the next level. “The original goal of the site was to promote and sell the courses online,” explains Leif Jason. “Today we want to be more flexible about the way we sell the courses. We want to offer each chapter™ of a course rather than the whole course. It reduces time spent on admin and shipping charges by pushing customers towards downloadable purchase and cross-sell and up-sell products.”

With individual lessons available to buy and download within minutes, students no longer have to wait for the entire course to be shipped. The new website gives customers the opportunity to sample individual assignments without having to commit hundreds of dollars upfront. If they decide to purchase the full course they can choose to pay as they go.

This whole delivery method that we’re moving into now is really going to kick start the next stage of growth for the company,” says Kevin. “It’s really, really exciting and I think that’s going to make the courses far more accessible to a far wider range of people.”

With the new generation website comes a more robust ecommerce application and updated design. Leif Jason chose Zen Cart, a free, open source shopping cart system with an active developer community, to match the enhanced functionality of the site. Not only does the new ecommerce software accommodate retail downloads, it supports a good choice of tax/payment/shipping systems. Zen Cart is built to be readily extensible, making it easy to build dedicated plug-ins.

While Leif focused on the advanced coding of the site, Kevin spent several weeks working on digital downloads and course descriptions for Zen Cart. Not only did this arrangement save time, it was proved to be a cost-effective way for Kevin Brown to put his web knowledge to good use.

Leif’s design makeover added texture as well as colour to CADD Train’s online brand. The luminous interface, which features transparent dropdowns, flash banners and a dramatic red and black colour scheme, adds a stylish sheen to the site.

The CADD Train/Mastermynde partnership has seen impressive results and Kevin Brown believes these latest developments are just another chapter in what he hopes will be long-term business collaboration. “Leif is a great guy to work with. I hope to continue growing the business with him helping me.”

CADD Train has been one of Mastermynde™’s most successful clients and Leif Jason believes Kevin Brown could inspire all those desk jockey dreamers who fail to seize the day. “Here is someone who was skilled at their job but was working for someone else. By transferring his expertise to the web he has developed a successful business and a global customer base from his home office.”

Kevin Brown now lives with his wife and three sons on Vancouver Island. He has a financially viable business and a new lifestyle where car horns and smog have been replaced by Trumpeter Swans and sea mists.

Mission Accomplished: In less than two years CADD Train has evolved from a successful mail order company into a fully-automated digital delivery education site. Google rankings have risen from page one to number one and the student base has grown from the Greater Toronto Area to the whole of North America, Europe and the Pacific Rim. The new delivery system makes the product more accessible to more people, sharpens the company’s competitive edge and fully utilizes the power of the web.

To find out how Mastermynde can help your company, contact us today.