Dear investors, advisors and friends,
Here is another monthly update on CodersTrust. In my last update, I described a lot of numbers and key metrics. Now I could choose to write another glorified update with a lot of great growth metrics and/or add a lot of depressing data about things that are not really working. But what really matters besides the obvious financial numbers is our ability to execute against our mission, which from the very beginning has been to provide student finance for the labour force of tomorrow. So the key questions is where are we now, how do we get to the promised land and are we actually making progress? The answers to these questions and the journey ahead can be found in our process, which is basically a three-stage process
These stages, which are described below, have more or less been our strategic objectives since the early days of the company, and even though we have lost some employees/investors/advisors along the way, we’re still committed to continuing our full frontal attack to get us closer to our goal.
1.Streamlining the operational model. The first step has been to recruit experienced freelance mentors from upwork/freelancer.com and to provide them with an online platform to promote, onboard, mentor and enable “early-stage” students to earn more money as a freelancer. We originally hired mentors as employees to build a core CodersTrust team, but we are now moving towards a marketplace model similar to www.udemy.com/, where we act as the platform/middleman between students and mentors. We have used this model to both: 1) expand into new countries, such as Bhutan, Malaysia and Poland and 2) expand into more verticals, such as design, marketing, bookkeeping, back-end, android, etc., in both Bangladesh and Kosovo.
There are approximately 200 000 experienced mentors worldwide that can be targeted to scale CodersTrust by localizing content and accessing relevant subject domain knowledge. The marketplace model allows us to cost-efficiently scale the number of mentors and students on the platform by setting up a semi-automated recruiting, hiring and management process on the biggest freelance portal upwork.com, and simple user and performance management in our learning management system Thinkific, where each mentor gets their own landing page and a customizable “Learn&Earn” path to promote locally. Furthermore, this reduces CodersTrust fixed burn-rate and risk by transferring marketing and operational uncertainties to independent freelancers that get paid a fixed monthly fee and a performance-based fee based on students’ payments and their student earnings.
The challenge is naturally to recruit the best possible mentors and to convince them of the business case, but our head of local operation Tatiana, who has executed the entire operation in Kosovo, will be managing this side of scaling the business.
Here is what the marketplace looks like in Bangladesh, with mentors having their own landing page and path structure: http://learn.coderstrust.com/.
2. Scaling online. The second step is to transition from a blended to a fully online “Learn & Earn” model. In the marketplace model described above, it’s essentially up to the local mentor if they want to use a physical location, use a blended approach or make their “Learn&Earn” path fully online. We originally launched our first batch of students with an online platform to manage testing, admission, enrollment, grading and other basic administrative functions. The curriculum was available online, but the learning de facto happened in a classroom. However, we are now moving towards a fully online model, where students can learn and earn from anywhere without being dependent on taking classes in a physical location given by a local mentor. We are able to make this transition happen with a fully online curriculum thanks to our learning management system www.thinkific.com, tracking software from www.worksnaps.com, live classes with https://www.crowdcast.io/, mass-customized student communication with https://www.intercom.com/ and our own 10% charging platform http://funding.coderstrust.com
The transition to a fully online service will allow us to reduce the need for physical locations, reduce the cost per student and significantly improve our data capturing, tracking and analysis of student performance.
Our main website www.coderstrust.com together with our live classes here: https://www.crowdcast.io/coderstrust and our gitter community (https://gitter.im/CodersTrustGlobal/Lobby) is what our fully online “Learn&Earn” path currently looks like.
3. Scale student finance. The third step is to transition to a fully student funded business model instead of limiting ourselves by charging upfront payments. We originally had our first two employees, Shakil and Rajesh, as mentors, to create our own curriculum with video tutorials, test projects, etc., but we’re slowly moving towards using more external content, such as free courses on Udemy, Codeacademy, etc. Also, as we are close to reaching approximately 10 000 students, we will soon have enough purchasing power to include the best online courses, such as https://www.pluralsight.com/, https://teamtreehouse.com/ and https://www.thinkful.com/, down to being able to access a price point where it makes sense financially to use these platforms for our students in emerging markets instead of our mentors having to develop their own content. Furthermore, as our student track-record improves and we have more “Learn & Earn” data on students, we will be able to offer our investment opportunities through P2P lending platforms that have already built up a network of investors. This will enable us to focus on our core process of recruiting, scoring, tracking and monitoring students. We don’t plan to own any physical centres, or have a big staff of mentors, but instead we aim to focus on what we like to call “student finance technology”.
Our upcoming investor portal https://invest.coderstrust.com/ together with our student earning tracking tool on http://funding.coderstrust.com and a very ambitious data analytics set-up in https://segment.com/ is what our future finance solution will look like.
You can watch this video update to dive deeper into the current status of CodersTrust.
Merry Christmas and a happy New Year to everyone.