So in 2004, I co-founded an e-learning company. My business partner and me had a vision of creating a paradigm-changing tool that would let people create their own course online. For example, if you are a fantastic poker player (or at least you think that you are) and you want to share your knowledge with the rest of the world, you would be able to create a course using audio, video, or powerpoint formats online.
At the time, both of us were really excited about the idea but we decided to implement an “Amazon” of online courses as our first phase because we thought this would help us generate revenue. After two years, we shut the firm down (for various reasons) and our vision of creating this paradigm-changing tool was never realized.
During that time, a British firm, whose name I cannot recall, launched a product with similar functionality. It was a well-designed, sexy website which was easy to use. And I was surprised when it shut down in less than a year.
It just seemed to me that people do not like taking courses online. They prefer learning in a classroom environment and enjoy aspects such as interacting with people and asking questions. This is one model that may not scale to the online world just yet.
Just a month ago, I came across an interesting new NYC start-up, Skillshare, in my Social Media and Entrepreneurship class at Columbia Business School. Skillshare did what we wanted to do but in the offline world. Immediately this got my attention and I decided to be on the project team that was going to help Skillshare gain traction through social media channels.
Check out Skillshare http://bit.ly/skillsh
Over the last 6 weeks, I have been checking out the Skillshare website regularly. It seems that most of the classes are eventually getting sold out. I am proud to say that we contributed to this as well and helped sell a few tickets.
I am hoping that they grow and become successful. In some way, it will validate the idea that we had 7 years ago. But to be perfectly honest, I have doubts about whether this concept has legs. Let’s hope I am proven wrong….