A SCOTTISH tech start-up is targeting US investment as it aims to make its e-learning software the de-facto global platform.

Paisley-based Bolt Learning has secured key clients in the retail and construction sectors in its first full year in business, and turnover is set to hit £1 million for the year-ending May.

Managing director Tamlin Roberts said he was targeting US investors because of their “think global” approach. He believes that with the software already developed and live, Bolt can become the equivalent of Amazon Marketplace for online training.

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While similar set-ups exist, Mr Roberts is confident the technology developed by Bolt will set it apart. “This is the best quality, we want our platform to become the de facto standard for e-learning, and that is what the investment is for,” he said.

Mr Roberts set up Bolt Learning in 2014 with business partner Tom Fender after identifying how software innovations could transform so-called e-learning, which allows employees to undertake training courses via the internet, from anywhere.

Mr Roberts earlier established web development and software firm Mercury Tide while still at university and continues to run that business while he oversees the growth of Bolt Learning, which he expects to post revenue of £1m this year.

Having developed software for Montpellier group owner David Withers, who subsequently launched Flow Hospitality Training, Mr Roberts retained the rights to his code and used this to launch Bolt Learning, targeting the construction and retail sectors.

“That software was built for hospitality but every sector is different, so we are able to develop programmes for anyone,” he said.

The product went to market just over a year ago with a plan to recruit a client in each of the targeted sectors to provide case studies. In addition to online, a classroom version has also been developed, in what is known as ‘blended learning’.

In the construction sector the company signed up IPAF, while in retail a large tobacco manufacturer asked Bolt to develop a programme for its new 210-strong UK sales force.

“We spent eight months recruiting IPAF,” said Mr Roberts. “But we now have a four-year contract in place that covers a number of European countries, as well as South Africa and North America.”

On the retail side, the tobacco manufacturer contract in the UK has been extended to deliver training for 80,000 staff based at its headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Bolt has also now launched virtual reality (VR) training.

“There has been a growing interest in VR,” said Mr Roberts. “It puts workers in a situation they will face and so gives them confidence they will know what they are doing on site.”

The company employs 11 staff, including Mr Roberts, in its Paisley office, encompassing graphic designers, project managers and what is known as instrumentation designers – the people who design the course content. Two sales staff have just been added this month.

“We spent our first 18 months building the software, so we don’t have to do much there,” he said, adding that some courses can use that template to be developed in a day, while others may take six months.

“There’s a bit of an overlap in what these teams can do, so what we are planning is to open up with teams of seven in different countries,” said Mr Roberts. “We’d like to target different languages and cultures, and with time differences we could start a job in the UK and pass it to offices around the world, not stopping until it’s complete.”

It is the US Mr Roberts is targeting for the second Bolt office, fitting with the plan to attract American venture capitalist funding.

Mr Roberts said he was targeting US investors because they had a “get it done” mentality. While investment is part of the 2018 strategy, he believes that fostering relationships now will bring long-term benefits.

“We could grow organically, open an office a year but we would rather get investment to accelerate that,” he said. “It’s about getting serious investment. The aspiration among US investors is bigger. In Scotland a lot of investors do not even look beyond the border.”