World Reimagined

How Antoinette Alexander Adefela Is Creating Transformative Learning Experiences for Companies

Antoinette Alexander Adefela

Antoinette Alexander Adefela, Founder and CEO of Exp.Design LLC, is designing and developing custom learning experiences for teams. 

With more than a decade of experience as an instructional designer and e-learning developer, Antoinette saw a need to support teams with their approach to training. After consulting for numerous large companies and experiencing a toxic work environment, she knew it was time to take the leap and launch her own creative agency. Antoinette hopes to change the way people think about learning and encourage teams to embrace new solutions. 

We asked Antoinette about the problem Exp.Design LLC aims to solve, what resources have contributed to her success, and her reflections on how she’s grown as a leader since starting her company. 

Q: Tell us the story behind your company’s founding. How and why did you start working on Exp.Design LLC?

A: After working in the learning and development (L&D) industry for various companies as an instructional designer and e-learning developer, I learned the industry standards. I also saw that every company designs and develops learning programs differently. I noticed how companies cared about design and how some utilized a creative team. Other companies operated with a lean team and required the instructional designer to perform every part of the process. I wanted to create the ideal environment to work with talented, diverse creatives and create learning solutions that were different, applied interdisciplinary principles, and were result- and impact-driven. I started on my plan for the business when I lived in California but put it on hold to consult externally. Then, when I was a training manager, I experienced a toxic work environment and started going to my doctor weekly. I decided to take a step back and take some time to take care of myself. Soon after, I attended a business conference, established my business, and started working with our first client, Apple, through a partnership with WalkWater Technologies.

Q: What problem does Exp.Design LLC solve? 

A: We address the common pain points training teams experience in L&D. Such pain points range from not having enough people or skill sets on the team to not quite meeting the demands for training. Instructional designers help structure content that is conducive to learning. Thus, there may be a lack of UX/visual designers on the team or even a full creative learning team to help develop the optimal learning experience. There is also normally a lack of diverse creatives on the team, and there is always the need to complete a project as soon as possible. So by becoming an extension of a training team, we’re able to bring all of our expertise, quickly embed in their team, and learn about their organization, learner, and content in order to meet their goals and create a learning solution.

Q: In what ways has your upbringing or past experiences contributed to how you operate as an entrepreneur?

A: I learned about budgeting and managing my finances from my mother. I learned about how to be a kind and compassionate leader from my father. From both of them, I learned how to take risks when things may not seem possible. I’ve learned a lot from my mistakes or the mistakes people have made around me. I try to pull the good and bad from various situations into how I operate as an entrepreneur. From my experience, I want to be an advocate for my team and learn about their goals and what they need to succeed. I want to take the time to ensure I listen and support them with the resources they need.

Q: What’s the biggest misconception that others have around entrepreneurship?

A: That all it takes is hard work and dedication from the owner. From the start, I never wanted to be in a business by myself because the business would be limited by my abilities and strengths. It takes hard work but you don’t have to do everything yourself. It’s important to build a team to work with you and build a team of support to share and learn from. As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child.

Q: Have you felt like giving up? What made you persist?

A: After talking to a fellow Dreamers & Doers member, I’ve adapted the motto, “I want to see what happens if I don’t give up.” My fight to win is stronger than my desire to give up. It could always be worse, but I have to take a moment to reflect on my situation and how I get a chance to write my own story, do what I love, and work with amazingly talented people. 

Q: Has your definition of success evolved throughout your journey as a founder?

A: Success originally looked like being able to get a client and build a team. Then, it looked like becoming a certified minority-owned business. Now, success looks like growing my business, learning how to be a better founder, and making sure I have time for myself and my family. It continues to evolve as I set different milestones I want to reach. 

Q: What resources or people have contributed the most to your successes?

A: My past experiences consulting at top tech companies have shaped my design process and high expectations. The support of my family and friends who didn’t question my decision to start a business but believed that I would succeed and held me accountable for my goals has been incomparable. Programs like Creative Freedom taught me how to run an agency. Dreamers & Doers allows me to get exposure and connect with other like-minded entrepreneurs. And Goldmans Sachs 10K Small Businesses is helping me establish a strong foundation and plan for growth.

Q: How have you grown as a leader since starting your company? 

A: As I learn more about how to be a better leader, I’ve realized the playing field I’ve been operating on and how my mindset and actions have to change to be a true owner. I’m slowly taking myself away from the day to day and ensuring that my company is positioned to meet the long-term goals while taking more time to support my team. The Goldmans Sachs 10K Small Businesses program contributed a lot to that way of thinking. But after consistently working on projects and establishing relationships with my key consultants, I didn’t want to go into the next year of business without really connecting with my team.

Q: What’s next for you and Exp.Design LLC?

A: As we grow, I want to ensure that the foundation of my business is solid. This means revisiting our existing processes to make them more efficient and making sure my team is solid and feels valued. We will continue to provide learning support for corporations and startups and expand through off-the-shelves courses and platforms in the future. I hope to create more partnerships with other mission-aligned companies to create more solutions for our audience. 

Antoinette is a member of Dreamers & Doers, a private collective that amplifies the entrepreneurial pursuits of extraordinary women through thought leadership opportunities, authentic connection, and access. Learn more about Dreamers & Doers and subscribe to their monthly The Digest for top entrepreneurial and career resources.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

Other Topics


Gesche Haas

Gesche Haas is the Founder/CEO of Dreamers & Doers, a private collective that amplifies the entrepreneurial pursuits of extraordinary women through visibility opportunities, resource exchange, and collective support.

Read Gesche's Bio