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EXECUTION Building An Online Training Platform From Scratch

fiola

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Hi,
5 months ago, I've started working together with my girlfriend on a platform for learning programming. We have several years of experience in private tutoring and we have some students which obtained good results at national competitions in the past years. Seeing that the demand for programming lessons is big, we decided to build the platform. The difference between us and the other sites like codecademy, udemy and others is that they focus on making their customers happy in terms of the difficulty of the assignments, and they focus less on teaching the principles and the hard things about programming. I haven't met a good programmer which hasn't struggled with understanding a notion or solving a hard problem.

During summer we also had some former students work with us on implementing features and we paid them for each task performed. Right now they do some (very little) work for us for free, but they are busier since they are now students at the university.

The platform is in romanian and we decided to focus on the romanian market first. Until now we offer our lessons for free and we have 12 000 users in 2 months after the launch, 8000 of them came after we appeared on national television. We have 200 active users per day, 870 likes and 540 members in our Facebook groups.

In Romania, the education system is centralized so every student who learns computer science in high school, learns the same things. We adapted the curriculum on the platform to be based on what the students learn in school and started going to schools and talking to teachers and students. The feedback was good and the people encouraged us to continue and add more content.

From the 8200 users who read the first lesson only 2000 solved the first problem and 1000 the second one. Only 51 users finished all the content on the platform which currently covers only basic stuff. We're trying to keep the quizzes difficult and the programming problems challenging in order to make the users think and understand the basics because once you truly understand how the basics work , you can learn faster the more advanced stuff. Do you think the drop in users is too big and that we should focus on engagement?

One of our uncertainities is when should we start charging for our content? Because our platform is free, we can get media coverage and we can go into schools and hold presentations. If the whole platform is paid, then we could promote it only via ads. One way would be to have some free content and charge for the more advanced one. Another idea would be to create a private forum for the platform with paid access where students can get help and where employers post job offers (the demand for programmers in Romania is very high). Another dilemma is whether we should charge per time period (full access one month) or per chapter/module and once you buy the chapter, you have full access.

When we began, we thought that if we have 10 000 users who pay us 25$ per month we can have a decent revenue and focus on expanding to other countries. However some folks with more experience (got accepted into y combinator and other accelerators) advised us to focus on moving to a "bigger market" and move to a bigger city like SF or London and try to get VC funding.

We both got internship offers in the Bay Area for the next summer and now we're not sure if we should go to the internship or work on the project during the summer.
The advantages for going to the internship would be:

  • money (we could each come back with over 15 000$)
  • we can research the market and see whether we could get people in the US to pay for our content
  • networking with other people who are building startups
The disadvantage is that we would stop working or work very little during the internship (July - September).

Until now we didn't invest a lot of money into the business. Should we hire 1 or 2 programmers and use our savings or should we keep working on the platform ourselves together with people who would work for free with us?

Thanks for taking the time to read all of this
 

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Isaac Oh

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Hey! That's awesome to hear and I'm looking to create a similar education sort of deal but, disclaimer, haven't gone as far as you.

I think engagement is very important. Of course, you want to teach them the more difficult concepts and not sugar coat stuff but if no one is getting to that point, you aren't putting yourself in a position where you are able to help them. If it's possible that you can teach the same concepts while still upping engagement, that'll mean more value transferred to the customers.

As for monetizing, I'm thinking of making my contents free and possibly having higher level or more obscure stuff accessible through payment. Or, like MJ did, offer an ad-free or more tailored experience for your customers for membership. I'm also playing with the idea of a low cost subscription that will give them access to everything.
 
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fiola

fiola

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Hey! That's awesome to hear and I'm looking to create a similar education sort of deal but, disclaimer, haven't gone as far as you.

I think engagement is very important. Of course, you want to teach them the more difficult concepts and not sugar coat stuff but if no one is getting to that point, you aren't putting yourself in a position where you are able to help them. If it's possible that you can teach the same concepts while still upping engagement, that'll mean more value transferred to the customers.

As for monetizing, I'm thinking of making my contents free and possibly having higher level or more obscure stuff accessible through payment. Or, like MJ did, offer an ad-free or more tailored experience for your customers for membership. I'm also playing with the idea of a low cost subscription that will give them access to everything.
Thanks a lot for taking the time to provide feedback. Obviously we want to raise engagement and make the platform as pleasant to use as possible while teaching what we want to teach in a way that makes the users smarter.

We've decided to go to the internship and do a vlog about the experience of being an intern at google and show the kids that it's possible to go from an almost 3rd world country (this is the opinion romanians have about Romania) to working at one of the best companies in the industry (I'm still thinking about how to tell them about the script and how to get unscripted :smile2:). We've already started the vlog, and we're filming a new video each week.

Moreover we'll start a subscription based paid module for people who want to pass the admission exam for a CS university in the country. There are around 4500 participants in the exam each year and the popularity of the domain is growing. Moreover you need to be pretty good at programming in order to promote the exam so the content needed for this module is also needed in general. In Romania if you get a good grade at the exam, you'll get free college. We'll advertise the module using this fact (the cost of college is higher than the cost for a subscription for 3 or 4 months in which you'll learn everything you need in order to get a good grade) and also we'll talk about our results with kids which got good results at programming contests.
 

AfterWind

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Nice to see someone is trying to improve education here in Cluj Napoca.

Another dilemma is whether we should charge per time period (full access one month) or per chapter/module and once you buy the chapter, you have full access.
Maybe a combination of both? Charge per time period to motivate people to continue using, and continue learning through your app and charge once for some of the more advanced courses for them to be able to commit to them.

I'm still thinking about how to tell them about the script and how to get unscripted
Vlogs are a good start, a good way to keep the people you've only partially convinced of this mentality. To get new people thinking like this, public speeches are probably the best.
 
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fiola

fiola

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Some updates regarding our work (all content on external links is in romanian):
  • we'll teach a "learn programming from scratch" course for another company in our city. The students will be people who finished school and college and want to change their domain of activity. This way we'll explore the market for non-students without putting much effort into it. We will use the content on our platform as a base for our course
  • Launched 5 videos on our vlog
  • Almost finished writing the content of the paid course.
  • We've built a landing page for our course Fii pregătit pentru admitere - the video will be changed
  • Implemented a feature showing consecutive days logins which rose our engagement. We have around 150 daily users
  • Reached 550 youtube subscribers, 1300 fb likes, 100 users who finished the course, 14500 registered users
Our goals for the next 3 months are:
  • Launch the paid course and get at least 10 clients
  • Reach 1000 youtube subscribers, 5 000 fb likes
  • Get 200 daily active users and 20 000 registered users
  • Get 2 000 people in our fb group
 
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fiola

fiola

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I'm coming back with updates.
We've just launched the first paid module and I've decided that I won't post any updates until we have a product. Today we've launched and got the first client who's a student I've previously taught privately. This is the landing page for the premium course.

First of all we decided to change our target for the paid course so we've built a paid module for students who are taking the graduation exam in computer science. There are over 10 000 around the country who take the exam each year and the only ways to prepare for the exam are private tutoring or learning from old outdated books. There is also the possibility to learn on your own on the internet, but I assume that people will prefer paying for our course.

Before launching our product we focused on growing our youtube channel because in order to have a successful career in CS you need to work hard and don't get discouraged when you're not able to solve all the tasks you're supposed to do. We're doing a lot of motivational videos in which we tell our viewers some healthy life principles and we're receiving good feedback and encouragements from our viewers. We did collaborations with 3 other youtubers who are also doing programming stuff. When we hit 1000 subscribers, we did a facebook giveaway in which we offered private tutoring lessons and a 3 months subscription for the module we've just launched.

2 months have passed since the last post and in terms of goals this is where we are:
  • 1/10 paying customers:xx:
  • 1888/1000 youtube subscribers :check: 2400/5000 fb likes :xx:
  • 260/200 daily active users :check:19000/20000 registered users:greenx:
  • 1600/2000 users in our facebook group :xx:
We participated in women startup competition semifinals and we've won the first place and are going to the finals to pitch in London. We've got the local startup accelerators interested in us and I think we'll meet them in the following weeks. We will also apply to Y Combinator a second time.

In the next months we'll improve the course, hire a programmer to build an achievement system in order to raise engagement, hire a designer in order to add drawings to the lessons and draw some badges for the achievements.

We'll also start going to parent meetings (classes here do this thing at least once a semester) to present our paid course. Maybe we'll also travel to some big cities in the country to promote the course to students and parents. We are also thinking about doing an affiliate program with the teachers and give them 25-33% discount for each subscription bought by their students. We're also thinking about giving one month free subscription for each user referred by another user.

The goals for the next 3 months are:
  • get at least 30 paying customers
  • 4000 youtube subscribers
  • 7000 fb likes
  • 400 daily active users
  • 40 000 registered users
  • 4000 members in our fb group
  • stay below 10 github issues
I've forgot that our SEO is horrible, so our last goal is to hit the first page of google for the relevant keywords
 
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fiola

fiola

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The last month wasn't that great, but I'll post the updates while there are still fresh in my mind.
We paid a communication company $130 to write a press release about our premium module and got featured in some online publications.

We also held presentations in 7 schools and presented to around 500 students in total. We talked about how you can get to work at big IT companies like Facebook and what they can do in high school to increase their odds of getting a good job. Because rules here forbid advertising in schools, we couldn't present the premium subscriptions and get customers there, but at the end we talked about what we do and what they can learn on the platform and encouraged them to subscribe to our youtube channel. At the end of each presentation there were around 10 students who remained to talk to us. This is above 10%, which is good.

The press release and the presentation helped us get 1500 new users and one paying customer so the impact wasn't that great.

Some people who are involved in startup accelerators tell us that we should make the experience easier for the users, but we believe that if we hide the hard parts about programming, users won't be able to get a good job and we're trying to make something different than codecademy and other mainstream websites. It's like the millionaire fastlane which doesn't tell you the things you want to hear, but the harsh reality. Doing things this way we hope to get fans, not only users even if the number of active users is smaller.

We also applied a second time to Y Combinator.
 
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fiola

fiola

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3 months have passed and here are the updates
We weren't good in achieving our goals
  • get at least 30 paying customers :xx:- only 17
  • 4000 youtube subscribers :greenx: - 3600
  • 7000 fb likes :xx:- 3600
  • 400 daily active users :xx:- 200 - we got worse
  • 40 000 registered users :xx:- 25 000
  • 4000 members in our fb group :xx: - 2 500
  • stay below 10 github issues :xx:- 42 - we got worse
Since my last post we discovered that a lot of users quit a short time after they register on the website. We think this happens because learning how to code is hard and we don't make it easy enough in the beginning. I've started improving the lessons. We also created a list of features which will raise user engagement. We included things like gamification, sharing your results on facebook, reward system for being active in the comment areas etc.

One month ago we started doing daily (Mon-Fri) livestreams on Youtube and this brought us some more subscribers. The livestreams grew and sometimes we have 50-60 viewers at the same time. However the growth is slower than expected: WellCode

In Romania there's a graduation exam at the end of high school. There is an optional exam in CS as part of the graduation exam. We held an online preparation exam where we had 400 registered users, but only 260 actually participated. We got some press coverage and some teachers used our subject in their classes so we got some exposure, but we realized too late that the timing was bad, we set it right before romanian labor day, in the 3-day holiday. We tried getting sponsorship from some companies who may be interested in promoting themselves among senior high school students, but no company showed interest.

There were some good things: we organized a paid live online course where 3 people enrolled. The money earned/hour was way better than by doing private tutoring. We're thinking of organizing a web development course or a game development course and earn money through them in order to hire a programmer to help us implement features to raise the user engagement. I know that time in exchange for money is bad, but we don't have better ideas on how to earn more money.

For the next 3 months we'll be in the US for internships so we won't be able to implement too many features, but our main goal is to improve the platform and the lessons on the platform and until we do that, we won't try to release an international version.

Since the graduation exam is close, we'll do a 50% price cut for the basic packages in the premium module in the next month.

Our goals for the next 3 months are
  • Film a course for non-technical people explaining what it means to write code, and explaining the process of becoming a programmer: beginning with the mindset and ending with how to write a resume and do good at an interview
  • Implement 10 new features from our engagement raising list
  • Release 24 videos from our internship in the US
  • Add details on the platform showing users what the benefits are if they finish each course
  • Make a curriculum for a course for people who want to get hired as programmers. This will be targeted at people who are not students anymore.
  • Get on the first page of google for the keywords programming courses and cs courses (in romanian)
 
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fiola

fiola

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I'm back with updates about our platform,
The 50% price cut was successful and we had $300 in sales each month.
I'm 2/3 done with my internship, it's busy, but I'm very motivated and doing a lot of work after work. We decided to go international. In order to build a great product we need more resources and the market in Romania is too small to allow us decent earnings in the first years.

For doing this we started releasing videos in english on our YouTube channel and trying to build an international audience (currently most of the viewers are still romanians). Here is our channel (any feedback is appreciated): WellCode

We'll build 4 types of content:
  • coding tutorials
  • interviews
  • advice videos (how to focus, how to write your resume, ...)
  • vlogs showing how's it like working at a big tech company
We are experimenting now with a facebook ads campaign for youtube, but it doesn't get good results yet.

We got some volunteers who help us with video editing and with translation of the platform and hopefully we'll be able to launch the English platform in October. We're also thinking of releasing the content on udemy as well in order to get more users from there.

We also came to the conclusion that we need funding in order to be able to grow quicker so we wrote a short business plan: Business plan However, we don't have a lot of revenue, so we may need to wait in order to get money on favorable terms.

I've kept the past goals for the end because they have changed since we decided to go international
  • Film a course for non-technical people explaining what it means to write code, and explaining the process of becoming a programmer: beginning with the mindset and ending with how to write a resume and do good at an interview :checkbox: 50% done - will be a youtube playlist
  • Implement 10 new features from our engagement raising list:xx:
  • Release 24 videos from our internship in the US :check:26/24
  • Add details on the platform showing users what the benefits are if they finish each course:xx:
  • Make a curriculum for a course for people who want to get hired as programmers. This will be targeted at people who are not students anymore. :xx: - First we need to launch the basics in english
  • Get on the first page of google for the keywords programming courses and cs courses (in romanian) :xx: this is still relevant, but we didn't put time into it
For the next 3 months we want to:
  • Launch the english version or at least publish a landing page and allow people to put their email for getting updates
  • Get to 10k youtube subscribers (I don't know how we can do this, but we need to have an international audience which is at least as big as the Romanian one)
  • Implement some gamification mechanisms
  • Give a diploma at the end of the course
 
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fiola

fiola

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Coming back with another update. I will keep posting a 3 month update since and since no one is reponding, this feels more like a personal journal.

  • Launch the english version or at least publish a landing page and allow people to put their email for getting updates - FULLY LAUNCHED :check:
  • Get to 10k youtube subscribers (I don't know how we can do this, but we need to have an international audience which is at least as big as the Romanian one) - We just hit the number today :check:
  • Implement some gamification mechanisms - :checkbox: did some small things, but they impacted retention
  • Give a diploma at the end of the course :xx: - been lazy on this one

In the last few months we decided to go international. We started doing youtube videos in english and released an international version of the course. We're far from doing good videos, but I started taking english classes so in max 2 months the quality of the videos will be a lot better. We will also add more content and update the pricing amounts and mechanisms.

Our team has grown to more than 10 people, and we started moving faster. We have a guy who edits our videos so we spend more time coding and creating content. We're constantly hitting $300/month.

We'll work on defining which will be the services and courses that we'll sell in 2019 and on raising the engagement (we still loose a lot of users).

The goals for the next update are all about retention:
  • Get at least 42% week to week retention
  • Earn $2000 in the last 3 months
  • Get 3 international clients for private tutoring
  • Hit 5000 instagram followers - a lot of our audience uses instagram and we need to do a way better job there (we're currently at 1000)
  • Constantly hit 40% retention on our new youtube videos
Edit: we've been trough YC's startup school which was awesome.
 

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JH23

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I'm new to the forum so not had a chance to post in this thread before.

Pretty interesting platform you're building. I wish you Good Luck with it.

I've worked as a classroom teacher (Mathematics, here in the UK) and would definitely take care with the 'making stuff too difficult' thing. Sure, you don't want to tell someone who's just learned how to add two numbers together in Javascript that they're now a fully fledged web developer but on the other hand, just slamming someone with a tough challenge because 'coding is hard' is going to turn a lot of people off. Sounds as though you've taken steps to address that.

Coding is like Mathematics in that they're both extremely incremental in nature - everything you learn builds on what's gone before. Any weakness with the basics and someone is going to struggle later on. I've seen this time and again both in the classroom, and as a private tutor. People who tell me they can't do Math, often find, once we go back and sort out something they missed earlier, that they're far more capable than they imagined.

What is the state of coding education in Romania? Just wondering if you've considered offering this platform to schools/education authorities as something they can use in the classroom (I'm thinking of the work that Stef Mischook has done. He has a youtube channel and has built a platform called StudioWeb, I think. That's sold to schools, and he also sells access to anyone who wants to learn to build websites.)

Here in the UK they introduced coding as a classroom subject. Only trouble is, few of the teachers know anything about the subject. A platform like this would be an interesting proposition.

Good Luck with everything you're working on .
 

Roli

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Coming back with another update. I will keep posting a 3 month update since and since no one is reponding, this feels more like a personal journal.
I have just seen this thread, but I think the reason why you haven't had any/much response is because the title reads as if you are giving people advice on how to start teaching code from scratch.

This is why I clicked in, because I thought to myself; 'how's that possible?!'

Anyway, this is a really good thread!

My advice, is to DM one of the mods like @Andy Black or @Vigilante - Or simply through the 'contact us' and ask if you can change the title so that it is more obviously a progress/execution thread.

Something like 'Building An Online Training Platform From Scratch' Or My Journey To Build...
__________

Okay, I think your main problem is that you've given away so much for free, that it is hard to now suddenly start charging. For instance I use the photo editing tool Pixlr almost everyday. It is completely free of charge, if they suddenly started charging for it, I would almost definitely stop using it.

However if they came out with some new funky bit of software that was 'heavily discounted' for existing users, and I saw that they were going to start charging new users for what I got for free, now that's a different story!

You have to come up with a way of making new stuff that differentiates from your free content. I think the international stuff will help, and maybe you can use it as leverage with your Romanian customers. As in they pay less than the international customers, also make them aware that they are getting for free/discounted, what the rest of the world are paying full price for.

As far as the Romanian customers are concerned, have you thought about having a donations button? You could write some really nice copy which basically says; look, you have been getting this for free and that's great, however I'm just me and while I love educating people, I have to eat...

Since my last post we discovered that a lot of users quit a short time after they register on the website. We think this happens because learning how to code is hard and we don't make it easy enough in the beginning.
Have you thought of starting a Slack or Discord channel? That way newbies can feel a bit more loved and part of a community where they can get help and speak to others in their situation.

We're also thinking of releasing the content on udemy as well in order to get more users from there.
Careful, Udemy might be good to get some kind of initial reaction, however they are constantly on sale at $9.99 or so and take a healthy commission from that, especially if you are not a main seller.

I started taking english classes so in max 2 months the quality of the videos will be a lot better.
Probably too late, but I'd be happy to swap some English lessons for some coding classes :)

______

Side note, my dog is from Roumania, and he's great, so I have a big soft spot for the country at the moment, even though I have never been there!

_______

Keep going, you have achieved a lot already, and please keep posting these updates.
 
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fiola

fiola

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Coding is like Mathematics in that they're both extremely incremental in nature - everything you learn builds on what's gone before. Any weakness with the basics and someone is going to struggle later on. I've seen this time and again both in the classroom, and as a private tutor. People who tell me they can't do Math, often find, once we go back and sort out something they missed earlier, that they're far more capable than they imagined.
Great point. I wonder how we can explain this to our new users in simple words.

What is the state of coding education in Romania? Just wondering if you've considered offering this platform to schools/education authorities as something they can use in the classroom (I'm thinking of the work that Stef Mischook has done. He has a youtube channel and has built a platform called StudioWeb, I think. That's sold to schools, and he also sells access to anyone who wants to learn to build websites.)

Here in the UK they introduced coding as a classroom subject. Only trouble is, few of the teachers know anything about the subject. A platform like this would be an interesting proposition.

Good Luck with everything you're working on .
I don't know how the situation in UK is, but here there is too much politics involved in the school system, and I don't think we could bring our system in public schools. Usually if something is paid, you're forbidden to even go in public schools (most schools in Romania are public) and promote it.

Okay, I think your main problem is that you've given away so much for free, that it is hard to now suddenly start charging. For instance I use the photo editing tool Pixlr almost everyday. It is completely free of charge, if they suddenly started charging for it, I would almost definitely stop using it.

However if they came out with some new funky bit of software that was 'heavily discounted' for existing users, and I saw that they were going to start charging new users for what I got for free, now that's a different story!

You have to come up with a way of making new stuff that differentiates from your free content. I think the international stuff will help, and maybe you can use it as leverage with your Romanian customers. As in they pay less than the international customers, also make them aware that they are getting for free/discounted, what the rest of the world are paying full price for.

As far as the Romanian customers are concerned, have you thought about having a donations button? You could write some really nice copy which basically says; look, you have been getting this for free and that's great, however I'm just me and while I love educating people, I have to eat...

Great advice, we'll implement it



Have you thought of starting a Slack or Discord channel? That way newbies can feel a bit more loved and part of a community where they can get help and speak to others in their situation.
Having a chat will make the users give each other solutions very fast without any possibility of moderation. What makes wellcode valuable is the fact that you need to think carefully about every solution and by doing this you learn how to find solutions to new problems
 

Roli

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Having a chat will make the users give each other solutions very fast without any possibility of moderation. What makes wellcode valuable is the fact that you need to think carefully about every solution and by doing this you learn how to find solutions to new problems
That is indeed very valuable! However let me think on this one a while, I'm sure this feature could be expanded upon in some kind of bonus package. It might just be the solution to your pricing issues...
 
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fiola

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Several months have past since I last posted an update. Our efforts from this period have culminated with us finally launching the well-waited upon course that we know in our hearts will help people understand coding concepts easily (me made it easy for them to relate to the content) and help them get a job!


Even if our own enthusiasm was met with almost equal enthusiasm from our followers, it didn’t reflect in our sales numbers. We have 2 customers so far, but I’ll talk about them later on as I want to describe the course in more detail and what we did to market it.


  1. Where our time went: Since we started writing content for the new course last December, we focused almost every bit of energy into it. We wrote the lessons, prepared problem statements, test cases, talked to people about their experience in the workplace so that we’re confident we have all the data. This meant that new feature development, sales and social media presence came second. However, our sales tripled in December after deciding to offer several-months subscriptions at a discounted price, and we’ve been at a relatively stable 1k dollars monthly revenue ever since. Starting with February, we began collaborating with somebody who has good marketing skills and helps us build our engagement on social media and contribute valuable tips on how to present our messages to the public. She is WellCode’s first employee.

  2. Already in 2018, when we began telling our fan base that we’re working on this course, tens of people asked about it and expressed interest in it. They were interested in what they would learn and how it would help them get a job, what it would cost and how much energy it would require on their part.

  3. Our first client was one of our followers who saw an insta story a week ago talking about the coming launch and wanted to buy it. We made him an offer to get it for the same price that we were selling our “Learn to code” course, 150$ for 3 months, and he gladly accepted it. On Monday, we launched this sales page https://cariera.wellcode.ro (Romanian language) and on the same day someone bought it directly on the platform, paying for a month’s subscription (100 EUR). In his words, “Spent the whole day refreshing the page so that I’d be the first one to buy it when it became available for purchase on the platform”. Our packs are: 100 EUR / month for a Standard subscription, 200 EUR / months for a PRO subscription where, in addition to the online course, you get manual code reviews made by us on your code so that you can improve your coding style. We also offer yearly plans at a discount, with some bonuses.

  4. When we shared our sales page on facebook, we had almost 500 link clicks (organic) and a 1% bounce rate, which we believe shows that people are interested. However, none of those people decided to buy it and we are now working on finding out why: Some people messaged us saying they are planning to save money to buy the course, so maybe it is too expensive. In this case, we can either lower all the prices, or offer discounts for limited periods of time to groups of people (for example, after an event). Some people were not sure what’s in it, so perhaps we need to add more details on the sales page about every skill you learn as a student going through the new course. From talking to people, both of these might be an issue, so we’re going to launch insider videos taken from the course and similar sneak peeks to help people understand it better.

  5. Even though people are not currently buying the course in the big numbers we expected, I am positively sure that they would benefit massively from it. I studied other programming courses that are offered in person for those who want to convert to a programming career and it looks like they are trying to cram as much information as possible into the brain of the closely listening student. Thus, the role of the student is passive, trying to make sense of and remember that information. They do have projects, but I’ve heard many complain that they get lost and can’t relate to what’s being thought. I’ve even interviewed 3 such people who were either going through or had finished such a course and they seemed overly specialized on exactly what they had learnt. When I gave them an easy problem to solve, instead of thinking through steps for solving it, it looked as if they had a list of everything they knew in their head and they were going through each item on that list trying to determine if it would be an appropriate solution to the problem or not. It was almost painful to watch.

  6. Our course is focused on problem solving, viewing programming languages and frameworks as mere tools to get you where you want to go. Thus, we always connect new information to the big picture students already have in their heads. First, how do I write a computer program? Then you write all kinds of programs yourself and ask for help, so you need to create a mental image of your code and be able to explain it. In this new course, we’re focused on OOP principles, Java and SQL, building on top of the basic principles they learned in the last course. We sell yearly subscriptions because we’re confident that in a year you have time to go through the lessons and solve the problems in the course, work on your resume, create one or more apps and get feedback from the community, make those apps open source and walk into the interview room prepared to communicate clearly and able to find solutions to coding challenges.

It’s been a long description, I know, we have a lot of things to think about right now and we definitely need any support we can get. Our main goal has remained to launch this product internationally and help people look, think and act like skilled programmers do. We viewed Romania as a great start because we speak the language and have grown in this culture, but at the same time it’s a culture where people expect to get a lot of online resources for free. Thus, given our experience with the launch, there are several path we can hop on and we’re not sure which to pick:

  1. To solve the money issue, we can collaborate with some local IT companies to sponsor access on this course for a group of students, maybe negotiating extra benefits like mentorships with employees or even internships.

  2. Talk to those schools who offer in-person trainings and fail to teach problem solving skills and form a strong base, to offer both our courses as a bundle or use our course in class

  3. Get a third party to translate every bit of our new course in English and launch on the international market. We launched https://wellcode.com with a free introductory course several months back, but our efforts to promote it have so far resumed to mentioning it in the description of Youtube videos. We could focus most of our efforts on creating better English content on YouTube, where we also mention the course in the content of the video and persuade people to try out the platform. We could focus more on growing our international audience, as most of our followers are still Romanian people. We could work on turning our international followers into fans as loyal as our Romanian ones, since our ultimate goal is addressing a global audience.

  4. Focus on selling the content better to potential students: better videos, better sales page, in-person events and promotions.
What would you do, if you were in the same place we stand in right now?


Also, I am really keen on obtaining support from somebody who has a lot more experience than I do and could counsel us on how to market and sell our content and engage people more efficiently. Someone to help us decide where it would be best to invest our time and energy right now, to get the highest impact. I am thinking about getting an Insider membership on this forum, has any of you had experience with it and benefited of valuable advice as a result?
 

softwareRules

Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Aug 25, 2019
29
41
21
Canada
Thanks for sharing this!

it’s a culture where people expect to get a lot of online resources for free
This is true of a lot of programming content. The only people paying are those who know the true value of knowledge and education or a company that has a training budget. Otherwise you have to offer courses for free or low-price and then try to sell a lot of them.

Look at Udemy and Packt, they offer discounts all the time and they don't care too much about quality because they have thousands and thousands of courses. They're trying to flood the market to earn their dollars.

You should try to advertise to teachers or instructors who can pay out of pocket for 5 or 10 students to use your training platform. Or try to advertise to local Romanian developer consulting agencies who want to get more contracts by teaching their developers new skills. For example, a company that has developers who know only PHP can only apply for contracts that use PHP, but if their developers know JavaScript then they can apply for JavaScript contracts.

If you get a few sales from individual developers that's nice, but it isn't necessary for you to succeed. What you want is to sell the training and use of the platform in bulk. A small business with 5 developers understands $50/month for 5 user access. A medium-sized consulting company understands $200/month for 5 user access and $500 for 20 user access.

Go with options 1 and 2 in your list, I think you will have more success. Training and online education are a tougher business to be in than anyone realizes mainly because people get loans for high-priced education or they get education for free. It's tricky to make money unless you go big or go high quality niche.
 

softwareRules

Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Aug 25, 2019
29
41
21
Canada
Thanks for the advices, we increased the prices a lot and started doing sales and now our revenue is 5 figures / month
How much was the increase? Sales meaning cold-emailing or facebook ads or some other marketing channel? Curious to know as I'm trying to advertise a few of my own courses :smile2:
 

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