Snackable Business Model Breakdowns - Maven.com
What is Maven? Maven is a platform that enables instructors to launch and run their cohort-based classes successfully. Cohort Based Classes are virtual versions of regular classes in real life. The last decade of learning on the internet was auto-didactic. Anyone who wanted to learn something went through a series of noninteractive blogs and videos. Cohort Based Courses are 4-8 Weeks courses where instructors teach to a live set of students virtually. Its virtualization of the real-world classes
Full Disclosure I am an investor in Maven.
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What is Maven?
Maven is a platform that enables instructors to launch and run their cohort-based classes successfully.
- Cohort Based Classes are virtual versions of regular classes in real life. The last decade of learning on the internet was auto-didactic. Anyone who wanted to learn something went through a series of noninteractive blogs and videos. Cohort Based Courses are 4-8 Weeks courses where instructors teach to a live set of students virtually. Its virtualization of the real-world classes.
The simplest way to think about Maven is its Shopify for Cohort Based Courses.
- Maven earns revenue by charging a percentage from the income a course generates. This percentage is not well defined yet. It is most probably course to course basis for now as the product and the company is at a very early stage.
- In the future, the model could evolve to something like a Shopify subscription where the initial basic version of platform tools are priced at a monthly subscription cost with richer features at a premium offering. The course runners can choose which one they need based on the scale and requirements of the course they are launching and overtime scale appropriately as we have seen in the case of Shopify merchants.
- Go To Market Strategy: Maven has been smart about its go-to-market strategy. Their first 4 instructors (Anthony Pompliano, Li Jin, Sahil Lavingia & Lenny Rachitsky) have all built an authority and following on subjects that are not taught in any university class. By bringing these four instructors onboard gave Maven the advantage to reach more consumers (who are audiences of instructors) and at the same time learn from the courses themselves to what the platform will look like. It also proved the thesis that there are subjects in 2021 that people want to learn but have no good ways to go about it.
- Crowdfunding: Not a lot of Startups who have access to capital from the traditional VC ecosystem do crowdfunding, especially if the founding team has built successful companies before. Having the ability to raise from well-known angel investors like Naval Ravikant & Jason Calacanis, Maven did a crowdfunding raise for ~700k USD. This was interesting because crowdfunding is increasingly making more sense for certain types of companies. Maven by doing a crowdfunding campaign acquires a new consumer & supporter base who can contribute to the early product evolution.
- This is the reason Crowdfunding can be called “negative customer acquisition”. Not only does the company not have to pay for this user base, it actually receives investment from this pool of user base making them more invested in the success of the product and the company. I have previously written about crowdfunding here, while Maven was actively fundraising. Check it out if you are interested in crowdfunding.
- Market Size: The Internet increases the distribution ability of any creator. Ideally, if anyone is looking to learn a new subject they must be able to learn it from the best teacher of that subject in the world irrespective of their location. Internet theoretically allows for this possibility. The question is if there are in theory enough course, subject & instructor combinations to make Maven a platform where these best courses are launched, a $1B business? This is definitely an expanding market as skills in the new economy are more specialized and more people are getting access to the Internet leverage. It will be interesting to see how large this market can become.
- Competition: There are interesting players already in the Cohort Based Courses ecosystem. Teachable has already created a “Shopify for teachers of all kinds”.
- Technology: OnDeck which recently raised $25M at a $250M valuation has scaled its courses very effectively by using a couple of different tools and not building any proprietary platform. They have mainly used Zoom & Slack to effectively create and scale the largest Cohort-based company. Product School is another example of the same. Another yet-to-be-proven idea with maven is what would a platform exclusively built keeping Cohort-based courses in mind can do that current combination of tools cant do? What level of efficiency will the platform achieve for the course creators? Will it be 5x, 10x, or 100x better than the combination of different tools? These are the questions that the Maven product has to overcome and would be interesting to see as their product becomes public.
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