My venture pitch is Mobility, an ecosystem to support people for career changing. Mobility combines the existing resources of MOOC courses, professional network and staffing platforms. The business model of Mobility is innovative – people pay deposit before the journey and get refund when completing the career switch plan.
Taking the venture in learning technology course is an interesting experience for me to combine my background in business and in education. There are many takeaways from taking this course and doing the assignments including this one.
On philosophical level
The most important question I kept on contemplating is that if education and business is compatible? In the situation where these two contradict, which one triumph?
I felt that for any ventures in education, the founder should really think this through. The core belief of the founder and the company will influence where the venture goes, how key decisions will be made and how resources will be allocated.
For example, for my Mobility venture pitch I need to think through the ultimate mission of creating such venture. Who is my real customer? People who want to change careers, companies who are looking for talents? Experienced mentors who want to coach others? I did identify the target customer as people who want to switch their careers. The next question is that why Mobility wants to serve these people and how to measure the success of Mobility. Should it be measured by dollar value or change of people’s lives?
On education level
One of the most fruitful experiences from this course for me is to listen to educators’ point of view. This is especially true for the weekly opportunity forecast for various emerging technologies that can be applied in educational context. Many times I started looking at the technology purely from product point of view. After reading comments from others (most are elementary or secondary school teachers or administrators), I came to learn that there are many other factors to impact the adoption of product, such as size of school, previous experience with product, training companied with the product.
Therefore I recognized that although Mobility is a fine product in theory, it would most likely face many obstacles in its implementation. I also made a conscious decision to target consumers instead of formal teaching organizations. I learnt to see the product of educational technology in its whole ecosystem, rather than an isolated item for someone’s life. That is why I am proposing setting up a new ecosystem. It will take long time but it takes a holistic view about education.
On business level
In preparing this venture pitch I borrowed the pitch deck structure of Airbnb in 2008 to a large extent. I want Mobility to make money; even this might not be its only and first goal.
The business model still needs proof of concept.
Most people (middle class) do have annual travel budget so Airbnb is addressing a market that exists. However people do not necessarily setup a budge for annual learning. Asking people to pay deposit and refund the deposit when they complete the career-changing journey is also a bold and new model that needs further validation.
The revenue model is not conventional. People fret about the low completion rate of MOOC courses and that creates challenges for monetisation. Not enough people complete the course and even less purchase statements. I created Mobility with a reverse model – as a user, you pay when you don’t complete.
Instead of a greenfield approach, I proposed a brownfield approach. For me, it is more sensible to integrate what people have already created (Coursera, LinkedIn, Elance, etc.) and construct an ecosystem. This, however, is usually easier said than done. Business integration is difficult and that constitutes another level of complexity and uncertainty of my venture pitch.
Overall, I enjoyed this experience of visioning a new system to fill the gap between education and career for lifelong learers. I look forward to this happening.