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Bootstrapping an Online Education Company to $12M: Pluralsight CEO Aaron Skonnard (Part 6)

Posted on Tuesday, Aug 28th 2012

Sramana: Are people able to take your courses and then move on to find new careers or jobs?

Aaron Skonnard: Definitely. There is a woman in Sweden who was a dietician, but she really wanted to make a career change and become a programmer. She started taking some classes at a local institute and got a year of schooling done. She then started taking Pluralsight courses, which she says claims gave her the cutting-edge developer knowledge. Schools are way behind and don’t always teach skills that are relevant in the marketplace.

She then went out and started building apps on her own. When she went into her interview with this company, she showed them the apps that she had built on her own. She is a dietician, so she built some mobile apps for use during workouts. I think she got her job because she was serious about her career change, she started taking local classes, she took our courses online, and she brought real apps that she had developed to show her skill sets.

Sramana: How many instructors are developing courses for you right now?

Aaron Skonnard: We have about 100 authors today. They live all over the world and they are cream of the crop in their particular niche of the industry. They have all written books, white papers, and books. We just passed 100,000 user accounts two months ago. In the past two months we have already picked up more than 25,000 new user accounts, so we now have over 128,000 user accounts.

Sramana: How does your subscriber base break down?

Aaron Skonnard: It is almost a 50/50 split between individuals and business. Within the business side it is another 50/50 split between small business and large enterprise.

Sramana: What kind of corporations are buying your solution?

Aaron Skonnard: Any company that has software developers. We have small companies that buy two or three accounts. We are also selling into large companies that have thousands of developers. The average size is in the range of 25 to 100 developers. That is our sweet spot, and there are a lot of companies that have teams of developers in that range. India is a huge area of focus for us. I have been there more than five times over the past year and a half. We have a few contract sales reps over there and we are looking for our director of India operations.

We sell to more than 100 countries every month. India is usually in our top five countries of individual account subscriptions. In India we sell for 50% less than everywhere else. That is the only market that we have price optimized. We started that as an experiment, and it has gone extremely well. We are going to do more of that price optimization in other markets. For us it is about the volume.

Sramana: You should be able to do 1,000- to 2,000-seat deals in India.

Aaron Skonnard: We just closed our first deal like that with Cognizant. If it works well for them, they will move that up to 10,000 or more next year. All of the big companies over there have 100,000 to 150,000 developers per company. They have huge training issues. Their new hires do not come out of school with enough skill sets to allow them to start billing immediately. They run in-house universities. We are in talks with the top five development shops in India about using Pluralsight as the new development training infrastructure. There is new training, project enablement training, and technical leadership training. Our product works well in all three of those.

This segment is part 6 in the series : Bootstrapping an Online Education Company to $12M: Pluralsight CEO Aaron Skonnard
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I'm from Sweden, not Switzerland 😀

irisclasson Tuesday, August 28, 2012 at 6:57 AM PT

Fixed, Iris 🙂

Sramana Mitra Tuesday, August 28, 2012 at 12:50 PM PT


Rakesh Tuesday, October 30, 2012 at 4:35 AM PT