Sramana: What assumptions are you making in terms of what percentage of your existing customer base will convert to the new business model?
Scott Skinger: I have been very conservative building financial models. We did not have real data prior to the launch, and as of today I have 10 days of data collected. Prior to launch, I made as few assumptions as possible. We are planning on 10% to 20% of our customer base adopting the new monthly business model. We also think we are going to convert more of our daily site visitor traffic.
The conservatives models that I built showed us losing money for anywhere from 6 to 12 months. Some of the assumptions that we made have, so far, proven to be extremely conservative. Based on the first 10 days, we are very encouraged.
Sramana: I share your philosophy on pricing. I think it is important to make it as simple as possible and leave the customer as little choice as possible. I run a virtual incubator, and our pricing model is a single annual membership fee. Our ROI is $375,000 if the program is used the way it supposed to be used.
Scott Skinger: I believe in simplicity. When we first conceived the platform two years ago, what we defined as a minimum viable product was much different than what we have now. Now that we truly have a minimum viable product, we realize that our initial plans were very feature bloated. Simplification is the name of the game for us on the application side and the pricing side.
Sramana: I think online training is doing well in various niches. The engagement issue is always going to be a challenge. It is difficult to get students to remain engaged. It sounds like you have a head start on that problem because your audience is so technical.
Scott Skinger: There is a difference in how people use the platform. Some people want to use it for a single certification. They may only be engaged during the time that their learning is required.
We want to be positioned as a learning resource. We want to be more than an online classroom. IT professionals need someplace to go to learn something to do their jobs. We feel that we are positioned well to serve people in that way. We need to make our platform stickier by adding those features. That is something that we are trying to stay on top of.
Sramana: We have been doing this for a couple of years, and some people don’t like the community part of it. We have live WebEx calls every week, and some people just don’t come. They don’t want to hang out with other entrepreneurs. Technology people often have those anti-social personality traits. Our generation of society was not setup for online learning. Our generation did not grow up on the Internet. That is the population that is dominating business today. The generations that have grown up with the Internet are still very young. I explain that our program is like a gym membership. You are not going to get anywhere if you don’ t do the work, and that is especially true for our generation.
Scott Skinger: I don’t remember where I saw this, but the synopsis was that of all the metrics to worry about the key was engagement with your platform. That tells you how good your platform is and how your product resonates with people.