Sramana Mitra: Can you talk to me about the competition? There is a whole bunch of players in the EdTech space who also cater to the same customers that you are interested in. Pluralsight is a very good example. Who else do you consider as a competitor?
Ben Spring: There are a couple of labs in the industry. They all have their own USP. Where TryHackMe is really strong is delivering training content to an individual. We heavily embed gamification into the product to make it engaging and fun. A lot of our competitors are catering to the enterprise space.>>>
Sramana Mitra: How many enterprise customers do you have right now?
Ben Spring: Well over a hundred. We’ve been super fortunate to onboard Fortune 500 companies, lots of governments, lots of schools, and colleges. We’ve done some really rewarding work with the education of Scotland to provide training to 14 and 15-year-olds to break into the industry. We’ve been able to expand the number of people using TryHackMe whether you’re a 14-year-old, someone who wants to transition jobs, or someone who’s working in a business.>>>
Sramana Mitra: What was happening with the business? Were the conversation rates increasing? Was the number of users increasing and how?
Ben Spring: It was completely organic. We were incredibly lucky. It was just word-of-mouth. We really tried to make a great user experience and understand the user’s problem. At the time, I was constantly iterating on the product and speaking to users. The conversion was still fairly low. I was going into my old job and I just couldn’t stop thinking about TryHackMe. I’d go out on my lunch and I’d be writing emails and doing stuff on the side. I took the jump to leave.>>>
Sramana Mitra: When you finished university, what point were you at?
Ben Spring: I can’t remember now. It must have been 10,000 users.
Sramana Mitra: All free still?
Ben Spring: We introduced a pay-as-you-go model. You can pay per course. After talking to users, we found that it wasn’t the best model for us, so we moved over to a subscription model where you pay monthly and you get access to every single thing on TryHackMe.>>>
Ben and his co-founder are two techies who started by bootstrapping with a paycheck. With zero marketing budget, they have scaled TryHackMe to a million users and significant revenue.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your journey. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of background?
Ben Spring: I was born and raised in Portsmouth. I also went to the University of Portsmouth. I have a degree in Computer Science.>>>
Sramana Mitra: Fantastic! What are some of the nuances of go-to-market strategy that you have learned?
Matthew Benson: We took a shot at this influencer-based model. We created a tournament for a single influencer. Once we saw the spark, we doubled down on it. It was based on being receptive to the community and listening. That platform has become our main revenue driver.>>>
Matthew Benson: We built the MVP for eFuse. Almost an entire year later, we launched the product on January 2, 2020. On the initial launch, we didn’t have much success. We were just getting rolling and stumbling during the first three to four months. COVID hits right about that time. All eyeballs go to gaming.
One of the pieces we picked up on is a lot of people were turning to run online eSports tournaments. We pivoted the business to focus on building eSports infrastructure to facilitate different types of competition. We built this platform that we call the Arena. The first day we launched it, we had 10,000 visitors. From that point forward, we scaled the business to 500,000 in that first year.>>>
This interview is a fascinating look into the world of Gaming. Read on!
Sramana Mitra: Let’s go back to the very beginning of your journey. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of background?
Matthew Benson: I’m born and raised in Ohio. I grew up an hour south of Columbus in a small town called Chillicothe. There wasn’t much going on down there.>>>