Udemy Growth Strategy – How To Launch and Grow Fast
Udemy, a web-based platform for online learning, was founded in 2010 and currently offers more than 16,000 courses. The bulk of the classes are not certified, but are offered for self-improvement only.
Some coursework can be applied for technical certification, but no courses are currently eligible to convert to college credits.
With the provided tools, any user can design and create a course, promote it for student registration, and earn money from the collection “tuition.” As of May 2014, Udemy experienced a 300% rate of growth over 12 months and successfully raised $48 million in financing for future expansion.
In the beginning, lack of content presented the greatest challenge to Udemy’s growth. Like the Reddit team, Udemy’s growth hackers had no choice but to seed the site themselves with courses from the OpenCourseWare movement that carried a creative common license.
(OpenCourseWare content is course materials created at major universities and published for free use online.)
Thus, Udemy could legitimately say that its first 100 courses originated from prestigious universities like Stanford, MIT, and Yale. When the site launched with coverage on influential sites like TechCrunch and Mashable, they gained approximately 10,000 users.
Although this success was not sufficient to achieve the desired levels of growth, it did prove the concept and created an initial pool of users.
This was enough to raise $1 million in seed money and allowed the finders to keep the ship afloat as they worked on recruiting experts, experienced academics, and authors to become instructors.
This involved hours of one-on-one meetings via Skype, but no real exciting content was forthcoming until the Udemy founders hit on the idea of filming a series of meetings with their own investors.
The “Raising Capital for Startups” course took off and led to the creation of two more offerings in the same format. Each one earned $30,000 to $50,000 and gave Udemy real traction with potential instructors.
From there, Udemy’s engineers became tightly focused on offering the best tools and technology possible to facilitate online instruction. The value of teaching a course online had been proven, with optimization of the process being the next logical, and necessary step.
Teachers of all kinds are accustomed to making low wages, so the site had to offer high value to the very people it needed to grow. In May 2013, Udemy was able to report that its top 10 instructors generated more than $1.6 million in course sales.
Although wildly successful now, Udemy was faced with the task of gaining early adopters and creating initial success stories to drive subsequent waves of development.
At each phase, the team reevaluated what was necessary for the next level of growth to be obtained until the site reached a self-sustaining level of customer satisfaction, high quality content, word of mouth, and demonstrable earnings.