Job title: CEO, Leara eLearning
Why he's a 2016 Top 40:
Gottfried has put Calgary on the map in the world of e-learning, providing customized training programs for global corporate clients.
Photograph by Erin Brooke Burns. Photographed at Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre.
Whether he’s making chart-topping electronic music or designing world-leading e-learning software, Connor Gottfried uses technology as a creative tool. Like many who grew up as computers were evolving, he sees endless possibilities — and he’s eager to dive under the hood and make things happen.
“I see myself as a digital artist, and that involves using the computer to build cool things, whether it’s creating something that allows people to learn or making music,” he says.
Gottfried grew up in small-town Manitoba. His introduction to computers was at five years old, when his dad brought home an Apple II Plus, a primitive computer by today’s standards with a text-only interface. When the Internet came along, Gottfried was fascinated. “For one person to make something and have it visible all over the world — I never looked back.”
At 18, Gottfried was studying mechanical engineering at the University of Calgary. Back home in Swan River, Man., as part of a summer government-funded work program, he delved deeper into the Internet by helping local residents create websites and set up their systems; his high school vice-principal, Cam Mateika, spearheaded the program. It was life-changing.
The spark that eventually became Leara and its Respond5, Elevate5 and Examine5 applications was the 2010 announcement by Apple Inc.’s then-CEO Steve Jobs that the company’s mobile devices — iPhones, iPods and iPads — would not support Adobe’s Flash software. Flash was ubiquitous in the e-learning world, but Gottfried set about creating something better.
“We realized you could build something that would synchronize visuals and text and be responsive [scale to the screen size of mobile devices],” he says. In the past four years, Leara has made leaps forward in creating e-learning programs that can be customized by both learner and administrator and updated in real time.
Gottfried’s musical career has also evolved, with his band, Tetrix, known for its high-tech visuals and experimental sounds. The group has released 14 albums, reached No. 1 on the Canadian college radio electronic music chart and toured Europe. But he’s still a Calgarian at heart. “I love Calgary,” Gottfried says. “It’s been my home for 20 years. It’s a great city.” — Miles Durrie