A Bulgarian StartUP Is Launching a Fresh Model For IT Education. It Works Fair Well
Businesses with education are not sexy. “The founders of the Bulgarian company CourseDot have heard these words not once or twice in recent years, mainly from venture capital funds, but the company refuses such an assertion and proves to be the tens of thousands of IT courses around the world To which companies and consumers have access to it, already in more than 50 countries.
At first glance, the idea behind the startup is simple: it makes an online platform that connects corporate and individual clients looking for IT training for their employees, training companies, and instructors. More than 35,000 IT courses are currently being offered, working with over 430 training companies and 2000 instructors.
But CourseDot is more than an intermediary — it democratizes the entire process of selecting training and gives companies access to programs, opportunities, and prices that they find it hard to find. The choice of the sector is not accidental: according to recent surveys, in just 2016 the IT training market worldwide has reached $ 27 billion.
The company was founded in 2012 by Theodor Panayotov and Georgi Ganchev. The activity goes through the company “IT instructor”, in which the Bulgarian company “Kors Dot” is the sole owner. Panayotov has many years of experience in the field of training. He himself is an IT specialist and started his career as a student when he first worked for Orbital. He then went through training companies such as ITCE and Fast Lane. At age 20 he became one of the youngest certified CCIE instructors (Cisco’s highest certificate).
“My personal motivation is somewhat strange — in ITCE I was the youngest Cisco expert in Europe, I was getting a high salary, and none of my classmates, some of whom were smarter than I, had the same standard of living, That I want this knowledge, which is surrounded by a pay-wall, to be more easily accessible, “he says. At that time, he was admitted to Singularity University in the United States and on his return, he began to monitor the training market carefully. This is how his desire to change it.
“I looked around and saw the big corporate clients hanging out a few big training companies that put whatever they want, and they are not always related to real costs,” the entrepreneur added. At the same time, instructors are the same, the cost for them too. With Ganchev, they create a marketplace for IT training in which customers have access to thousands of courses. Separately offer training companies access to their database of certified instructors. This makes them a fundamental part of the whole market and can negotiate certain reductions and better conditions. The company actually earns a margin from the agreed price between the different players.
“CourseDot democratizes the IT education market — we give our customers the best combination of price, location, language, the way of conducting — physical or online.” We are strictly specialized, we know the business how it works, we have partnerships with 90% Players in the industry, we know almost all the instructors and solve a real problem for our customers, “he says.
According to him, these VET clients are mostly large companies that have meaningful IT departments and feel the need for these specialists to be trained in new technologies. This is mainly about banks, telecoms, outsourcing companies and others. Such are some of the current clients of the Bulgarian company. Among the former is the US Army, and SourseDot has spent much of its IT training in Europe.
In addition to the marketplace, the CourseDot is also launching a new BusinessDot for Business service, which they hope to give true innovations to the segment. The platform allows employees in a company to choose their preferred training to share with a manager over them, who monitors the budget and has to approve it. Finally, all inquiries from different departments across the organization go to the person who coordinates the training in the group — usually an HR manager. This makes the whole process easier, and the corporation can easily combine and manage training. “We get a combination of multiple bids as well as an account manager, as they are accustomed to having a person to communicate with, and we offer discounts to them through a different number of training companies, allowing customers to budget very quickly, Which was a big problem for them so far, “Panayotov commented.
The platform has been developed with company customers to understand what they are looking for. “With CourseDot for Business, we cut the sales cycle, which is usually between 6 and 18 months — from the moment of initial contact to sending an offer, it can take 6 months, with the platform we can shorten this timeframe to 45 days.” Customers testing the platform, They respond very quickly and they see that it can save them money, time and nerves. My logic is: once you start with these clients, they have to stay forever, “Panayotov says.
Before a new expansion
So far, the company has two investors — the Eleven Fund finances them at the beginning of their business, and later gives them a convertible loan for a total of EUR 100,000. Then UniCredit Bulbank enters with EUR 300,000. Panayotov says that CoursDot is yet to expand, but there are no plans for total expansion so far. “As a customer, we are growing well, but we certainly have not pushed the gas to say: we are starting to make massive online marketing. Our focus is to be 100 percent convinced that we have the right product and target market and we know our potential customers and they’re Because even small nuances in our business lead to big changes — we will start a strategy of more aggressive sales within six months, “the entrepreneur added. He does not hide that the company is aware that there is no way to grow with the current team of 10 people and funding. “Our goal is to grow by the end of the year to make the next round of funding, and we have to go to zero by year,” Panayotov added.