Udemy began as a project by two brilliant developers in Turkey, Eren Bali and Oktay Caglar, who were building a live virtual classroom on contract for another company. By the end of the project, the company had dissolved and the pair owned the rights to the virtual classroom tool. They decided it would be best if they could make it completely free and enable anyone in the world to access it. Eren and Oktay decided to move to Silicon Valley to start the company, and found jobs in the Valley so they could launch their company here. They joined the Founder Institute to improve their network and learn more about entrepreneurship, and it was there that they met myself, Gagan Biyani. The rest is, as they say, history ;-).
What makes your company unique in its industry?
There are 3 major value props of Udemy, and there isn’t a site to our knowledge that does all 3:
1) Content platform. The ability to upload multiple types of content (write blog posts, publish videos, and show presentations). I don’t know of another site that does that – but please let me know if there is!
2) Asynchronous and Synchronous tools. We believe in both providing the ability to publish content but also the ability to engage via live virtual conferencing with students. All Udemy instructors can use Udemy Live for free.
3) Community. The problem with YouTube or SlideShare is that your students rarely consume more than one piece of content from you. They are too distracted by other things and you have no way of communicating with them. On Udemy, students can “subscribe” to courses; instructors can then communicate with their subscribers and thus have a community around their content.
Future plans for the company?
Udemy’s goal is to become the framework that enables online education. As such, we plan on moving into some major markets and partnering with brand-name instructors in those markets. On example is our Academic courses section, with many courses from leading universities. Furthermore, we plan on enabling instructors to charge users for access to courses on Udemy. Therein lies our business model: we do a revenue-share with instructors so they keep 80% of revenue and we take 20%.
What was the start-up budget?
I don’t know how much we’ve spent, but definitely less than $10K since they moved to the US. We’re completely bootstrapped and don’t spend a whole lot of money (more because we don’t have it than anything else).
Founders Names and Ages
Gagan Biyani, 22
Eren Bali, 26
Oktay Caglar, 28
Help Udemy Out By Answering Their Questions!
1. How do I get in touch with the right people who can make my business move forward?
2. Making major strategic decisions is always difficult, since the wrong strategy can set you back if you invest too much in it.
3. In general, it is always a fun (and frustrating) challenge to figure out how to market your product without a marketing budget!