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Creating a business model for an EdTech startup that provides a multi-sided eLearning platform

Elaborating a business model for Apprend un truc – an EdTech startup that plans to offer an eLearning platform for private teaching with a marketplace and a virtual classroom. By applying lean startup and eLearning pedagogy to create a compelling eLearning platform and a business around it. 

The startup idea: An eLearning platform to conduct private teaching online

The idea of Apprend un truc was presented by Ellie at the Startup Weekend Lyon Education 2016. She wants to create a platform that allows private students and teachers to find each other, and perform the transaction and the teaching via the website.

The idea was born from the experience that the school system often fails, leaving the students with the burden of preparing for exams or entry to higher education. As a consequence, a huge market of private teaching exists that is mainly performed in presence within a geographic area.

The teamwork: Elaborating and validating the value proposition and business model for the eLearning platform

Ellie was supported by Christophe and me. Together, we specified that the platform shall offer a marketplace with matchmaking and transactions between students and teachers as well as a virtual classroom.

We reflected on the possibilities of eLearning to provide the experience how people want to learn today and to facilitate that teachers can teach effectively and students achieve their learning objectives. Based on this we developed the value proposition. After customer development and competitive analysis we agreed on a customer segment to start with. We designed the functions and user experience of the website, elaborated the activities and cost to build an run the eLearning platform for matchmaking, transactions and virtual classroom. And we developed a business model based on a competitive pricing that should attract both teachers and students.

Nicole’s contribution: How to build a compelling eLearning website and core competencies that give you a competitive advantage

In this team of three with backgrounds in business, marketing, IT architecture, and basic design skills but no developer, I collaborated on all aspects of the overall concept, the value proposition and business model contributing my experience in building an eLearning platform.

I pointed out when I felt that something was missing or should be considered. For example, building such a multi-sided eLearning platform is not just a technical but also a marketing challenge. Successful matchmaking depends on a large and growing user base. For startups, numbers like active users, or the ratio between customer acquisition cost and customer lifetime value are essential. Based on an estimate on users, transaction volume, and expected revenues, you can determine your marketing budget.

Looking at competitive sites for eLearning marketplaces, and marketplaces in general, I noted that the design and functionality are converging toward best practices. It is only a matter of time until there will be website templates available. Today, the interface is considered a competitive advantage. Tomorrow, it will be only the internal processes, automated and performed by humans, that will make a difference. Successful multi-sided platforms facilitate the interactions of their users.

The result: “Best developed business concept” for Ellie, ready to start the EdTech business on Monday

Now, Elli has a concept for her EdTech startup with a verified product-market-fit, a concept for the website with user experience, and a business model with a basic financial model. The idea won the 1st price at the Startup Weekend Lyon Education 2016. It was lauded as the most developed and tangible business idea.

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