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Thought Leaders in Online Education: Greg Smith, CEO of Thinkific (Part 1)

Posted on Tuesday, Jan 7th 2020

Online education is a booming field that is seeing entrepreneurship both on the platform and technology tool side as well as on the educator side. This interview covers both.

Sramana Mitra: Let’s start by introducing our audience to yourself and Thinkific.

Greg Smith: I’m the CEO and Co-Founder of Thinkific. Thinkific is a software company that makes it easy for people and businesses to create their own educational websites or add education to their existing business. We’re seeing a lot of entrepreneurs creating their own courses or membership sites, or even SMBs creating courses around their product and services.

We are the technology partner that makes it very easy for people to do that. You don’t need any technical skills or code. You can come and create your course.

Sramana Mitra: This is a territory that we are very familiar with. We do online education. We know a lot about this field. What exactly do you offer? Is it a learning management system? Is it a platform? What form does Thinkific take?

Greg Smith: It’s a software system. If you come to, what you see is a few examples of what other people are doing. You could sign up. You could create your own course. If you have some videos or other content, you can drop it in. You could also create content right there.

Thinkific makes it easy to create that experience. Then it also has the ability to build a website around it if you want. It gives you marketing tools to help get it out to the market and get it in front of people. It also gives access to all the back-office management tools of running a business around education from engaging with your students, tracking the analytics, and everything else that goes along with building an online course.

In addition, it integrates with all the other tools out there. If you have a preferred email platform you want to connect it to or some other tool that you’re using online, you can connect it to that. Another thing I should say that’s fundamental is e-commerce engine. If you want to charge for courses, that’s all built-in. 

Sramana Mitra: When you say other platforms, it means Udemy, Coursera, and all that?

Greg Smith: The difference between us and a Udemy is they’re a marketplace. They operate under one website, one brand, one domain. You go to Udemy and you can take courses there.

If you put your course there, they have a lot of control and ownership over what goes on. They own the student data. The students are their customers and not yours. They have control over things like pricing. If you have a customer that takes a course there, and they recommend a friend to go back and take your course, they might end up taking a competitor’s course. There’s a lot of different courses on the same website.

What we offer is quite different, which is we host tens of thousands learning websites. What we give you is much like what you have on 1M1M where you have a place where people can go and sign in and learn with you directly. You own that as a business. You own the revenue. You control how you want to price it. That’s what we give people. It’s their site and their own business.

Sramana Mitra: You’re the Shopify of online education?

Greg Smith: You got it. That’s it.

This segment is part 1 in the series : Thought Leaders in Online Education: Greg Smith, CEO of Thinkific
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