The company’s biggest competition, he said, is other ways people learn, by searching on Google, for example.
GetAbstract is benefiting from a shift in corporate culture toward enhancing internal education to maximize productivity and profits. In this economy, where companies may often be laying off employees and asking those who remain to take on greater responsibilities, being able to learn new skills is considered critical.
As a result, getAbstract says 1,200 companies, including 20 percent of Fortune 500 companies, are subscribers, such as General Electric, MasterCard, General Motors, McDonald’s Corp., Boeing, Microsoft and Motorola Solutions.
North Highland Co., an Atlanta-based global management consulting company with offices in Florida, bought a subscription for 2,200 people worldwide about a year ago to access such topics as strategy, marketing, innovation and finance, said Patrick Curry, director of learning at North Highland.
“It actually gives great resources at the fingertips of our consultants wherever they are in the field,” he said. “What is great about the product for us is that we have executives identify books and we pass that on to the consultants. It really helps generate conversations between consultants and clients, and it gets our consultants up to speed quickly with current trends, ideas and business concepts.”
Unlike CliffsNotes, which summarizes each chapter, getAbstract highlights the key concepts in the book, which Curry said he prefers.
Each summary begins with “Take Aways,” — the top 10 points. It then gives the book a rating: overall, as well as on its applicability, innovation and style. It then discusses its relevance, what the reader will learn and recommendations, followed by the abstract of the book, itself, and lastly, information on the author.
Koopman said that 100 summaries are added to the library each month.
“For us it really provides an informal way to give people the latest, greatest information that is out there,” said Curry, adding that consultants use it on a daily basis. “I would call it a major find to be able to provide this kind of resource to our people.”
A subscription to getAbstract costs $299 per year for an individual; and from $15,000 to several hundred thousand per year for a corporation, depending on the size of the company. The corporate subscription allows employees to download the information on various platforms, including smartphones.
Growing demand and a widening sales effort has led getAbstract’s revenue to skyrocket, despite a stumbling economy. While the privately owned company will not reveal figures, its revenue for the Americas was up 24 percent in 2011, compared to 2010, and is already up nearly 100 percent for the first three quarters, compared to the same period last year, Koopman said.
Yet, getAbstract’s offices in Aventura are surprisingly modest. Forget rooms of readers writing up summaries. The company has 30 full-time employees, including sales representatives. It also has a roster of more than 125 writers who work on the abstracts offsite.
At getAbstract, an editorial staff selects the books, reviews the summaries, translates them into other languages and converts them into audio summaries, said Koopman, 39, who was born in Alkmaar, the Netherlands, but has lived in the United States for 20 years.
For its next phase, getAbstract is looking to go beyond business books, into other sources of knowledge. Examples Koopman offered include articles, keynote speeches, events, videos or web content.
Clients demand it, he said.
“We’re expanding to be more of a true compressed knowledge source than just a business book summary company,” he said. “It’s in our title; we just now have to make that happen.”