How an idea—and a lot of perseverance—built Adobe Captivate Prime

Priyank Shrivastava, Sr. Director of Product Marketing, Adobe

By Priyank Shrivastava

Posted on 04-22-2021

The inspiration struck at the 2013 Annual Sales Kick-off in Las Vegas. As our CEO, Shantanu Narayen, outlined Adobe’s cloud vision, I found myself thinking about how my business unit could contribute to the company’s cloud strategy.

At the time, I was leading the product marketing strategy for Adobe’s e-learning products. It occurred to me that e-learning –which we already delivered digitally—could be offered on the cloud as well. We needed to expand our offering from desktop software to the adjacent SaaS-based learning platform.

Back in Bangalore, I pitched the idea to the core team, including Ashish Garg, director of engineering, Shameer Ayyappan, director of product management, Tridib Roy Chowdhury & Ramesh Gopalakrishnan, senior director of products. Once everyone was on board, we led the charge on two fronts: product development and business-case approval.

At Adobe, we’re always encouraged to innovate, and ideas are welcomed and valued. This culture of openness gave us the confidence to present our idea to Shantanu and our previous executive vice president and chief people officer, when they visited Bangalore in early 2013. Armed with data about opportunity and growth, we presented the business case for our cloud-based e-learning platform and requested if we could launch it as a pilot for Adobe employees first.

But our timing was off, as we learned that Adobe had recently signed a deal with another vendor—which would become our competitor in the future—so our proposal was denied. We were disappointed, but there was no stopping us!

What have we done?

We decided to make some significant changes in our pitch strategy, but we needed an opportunity to showcase our product to the executives again. Before long, we were visiting our San Jose headquarters, so we decided to park ourselves in the pantry next to Shantanu’s office in hopes of getting his attention. We were almost a year into the journey, with hundreds of hours of product development behind our idea, when our next chance finally arrived. Shantanu decided to grab a cup of coffee, and we seized our moment.

He looked surprised but agreed to spend the next 10 minutes in the pantry going over a quick product demo. He liked what he saw, but it still wasn’t enough. Shantanu told us to bring the idea to the Ops Staff leadership team. They found the product promising and the business case appealing, but asked us to explore all options before we took it live. We came back to India without approval, but we weren’t ready to give up. We continued to perfect our product.

Our next pitch opportunity was unexpected. In December 2014 we were back in Las Vegas when we were called to meet with Shantanu and his team. As we entered the room, Shantanu asked us sternly, “What have you guys done?” At that moment I really thought that my journey at Adobe had ended. A very long and tense few seconds later, he burst into laughter and apologized for the joke. A wave of relief swept over me, and what followed was surreal. He told us “What you guys have built has blown me away!”

A few months later, we obtained the approval, and Adobe Captivate Prime, Adobe’s learning platform, was launched in August 2015. Our Inspired idea had turned into a business!

Today, Adobe Captivate Prime is used globally by hundreds of enterprises to deliver customer education, employee skilling, and sales and partner training. Brands including Domino’s, Lenovo, GE, Publicis, Ogilvy, and many others trust Adobe Captivate Prime to train millions of their users worldwide.

Despite countless challenges over our 2.5-year journey, the team never lost focus. With Adobe Captivate Prime, we dreamed big, persevered, and turned an idea into a reality. It takes a village to launch a new product business and I couldn’t name them all here, but would like to acknowledge their contributions through this post.

Topics: Employee Impact, Brand, Adobe Life, Adobe Life - Asia, Adobe Culture