Hello everyone! Welcome to our second edition of ‘TownHall with CommunityHood’ on the topic of ‘Virtual Learning Community.’ This is our newest initiative where we bring community leaders and try to understand how community building has helped them in their journey.
We also focus on how community building can be done better, taking certain tips around engagement, growth, and whatever we can pick based on the experience of the leader. Our first TownHall event was an exciting start and this is our attempt to take it one step ahead. In that endeavor, we had with us, Mohammed Zeeshan.
Zeeshan is the CEO and Co-Founder of MyCaptain. MyCaptain has built a community of more than 200K+ paid learners and enabled them to become creators, entrepreneurs, designers, writers, and more.
Backed by Ankur Capital, they have raised a Pre Series A round of 3M USD recently. Zeeshan also features in Forbes India 30 under 30 2021 list as a special mention in education. He’s also inducted into BW Education 40 under 40 list of 2020.
In this exclusive conversation with Zeeshan, we got to know:
- What are new-age careers?
- How does MyCaptain add value to these new-age careers?
- Why is community building crucial for every Ed-Tech startup today?
And much more… So let’s get reading!
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What Are New-Age Careers? How Is The Future Of Work Evolving?
Over the next ten years, there will be more than 100 billion people in India launching careers in the digital space. Talking about the kind of careers that will be existing over the next ten years, they are very different. They cater to what we call the gig economy, passion economy, and creative economy.
You will see a lot of solo entrepreneurs, freelancers, gig workers, and creators coming in, so on and so forth. The current colleges and institutions cannot even fathom the skills that are required for these new-age careers. Moreover, they cannot cater to the careers that will be evolving and emerging over the next ten years.
There has to be a platform that helps people discover the kind of careers that are going to exist in the future. Getting skilled in these careers will help them in securing a job, freelancing opportunity, or getting some kind of work. And instead of pursuing it as a full-time career, at least have it as a side hustle that you can monetize and add to your side income. So, the passion economy will move.
In the creative economy, you will see that the majority of the people will move towards either starting their enterprises, becoming solo entrepreneurs, freelancers, or gig workers. The way we imagine day-to-day life will be very different going ahead compared to what it used to be.
What Is The Concept Of MyCaptain? How Do You Add Value To These New-Age Careers?
They provide beginners to advance live and online cohort-based courses which are industry-led and in partnership with industries. All of these are courses that have a tangible outcome. If you have decided to explore UI/UX design or digital marketing or advertising, etc. you will be getting an internship, a job, or a freelance opportunity by the end of these courses.
The kind of courses and the kind of careers that they are talking about are more industry-first than academia first. Hence, they decided to tie up with industries instead of creating lectures and getting professors to come in.
They decided to get practitioners from the industry to mentor and teach the students. That is how MyCaptain primarily works. So, the main aspect is that you need to be able to get them beyond just the skilling part.
- Where are the outcomes?
- How do you produce those outcomes?
- Are your learners getting freelance opportunities?
- Are your learners cracking paid internships or jobs?
The key focus and key promise of the brand are that you should be able to monetize the skills that you learn on the MyCaptain platform.
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How Is Building A Virtual Learning Community Different For These New-Age Careers As Compared to Virtual Professional Learning Communities For Traditional Careers?
It is very different. The new-age careers have not been defined yet and the segments have not even matured. Legacy careers have a very clear path and by following that, you will achieve your goal. But if I take up product management or community management, how old is this industry? 5 years? 7 years? 10 years? And I am talking about the new age communities because there have been some companies doing community management for 25 years.
If somebody wants to become a community manager today, the whole ecosystem is not evolved yet. So, the kind of community that you need to build for a new age career is very different from a traditional legacy career which can be much more organized and created in steps.
What truly adds value, especially if you are building a community for new-age careers is:
- Can you create excellent feedback loops for everyone inside to take feedback from each other, learn and grow?
- Can you provide enough monetization opportunities for people inside this career?
The majority of people coming in over here would either be in their zero to one journey or they will be above the zero to one journey. For zero to one journey, the community will be very similar to that of a legacy career. But for people who are beyond the zero to one level stage, it will all be about feedback and learning from each other.
So, these are the two things that work out fairly well if you are trying to build for new-age careers. The traditional careers still have defined jobs and defined curriculums. But in the new age careers, people are still looking for more monetization opportunities via the platform instead of going out in the existing ecosystem.
What Are The Positive Influences Of Building Virtual Learning Community On Different Stakeholders At MyCaptain?
If you look at their educators, around 250-300 of them are there and it is a community of its own. So, they are collaborating and providing business to each other. If there is a content writer or a baker in the community, they are reaching out to the digital marketer, copywriting captain, content writing captain, etc. They are utilizing each other’s skills to grow their network as well as businesses.
So, there is a lot of networking that is happening because these are technically the top 1% in their fields. They can also utilize their services and freelance for each other. That’s how some of them do barter and get a direct monetization opportunity with each other.
Their attrition rate is less than 10% in a year for the educator community. And this is when there are thousands of much more funded players out there constantly trying to poach each one of them. But they don’t go. That’s because of the community.
If you look at the business, their NPS scores were amongst the highest in the world when it comes to online education. They were reaching 70-72. But despite having such great NPS scores, their referral rates were as low as 4%. So, they realized that there was some kind of mismatch happening.
There was a lever missing that can start using the high NPS score to drive referrals down. That is when they started seeing the importance of building a community. To start building the alumni network around it through campus ambassadors and various other hacks. And from 4%, it started jumping to 15 to 22%.
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Why Is Community Building Crucial For Every Ed-Tech Startup Today?
Education and community-based learning go hand in hand. If you look at a school or a college, the learning doesn’t happen just inside the classroom. There is always an opportunity for peers and learners to learn from each other and get a social learning experience as well. Even education and social learning go very closely together.
If you look at most of the successful education organizations which work at tier 3, tier 4 levels, it is all about social learning. It is all about the community and the mentor or the person who’s coming in and teaching has to be from the community itself, who probably went out there and achieved something.
If I talk about it in a more structured way, let’s look at a commentary before the COVID era. A new Ed-Tech startup that is not highly funded would have survived by using the community as a moat.
So, if people have started learning from your educators and your brand, you can build a community around it, and that community acts as a moat against the competition.
Another thing that I feel Ed-Techs can utilize, especially with the community, is great alumni relations. Looking at it from a growth perspective, you can either use the community as a top of the funnel or a mid-funnel.
If you look at the top of the funnel, it will be easy to get people to come in, join your learner community, start engaging them, and hope that someday you will be able to monetize that. But there is no proof, even at a world level, that the top-of-the-funnel approach for a community works in Ed-Tech.
However, the community can be a great middle of the funnel. If you are running an ad on social media, and there are a hundred leads that are coming in through the ad, probably 1% or 3% will convert.
- What about the remaining 97 people?
- Why should they not learn from you?
- Why should they not engage with you? (if they don’t have the purchasing power or the intent to do that)
You can start using a community for these 97 people, engage them, give value to them, etc. At one point, they will start converting into paid users and you will be able to monetize your community as well. All these people coming into the middle of the funnel already had an intent to buy your course or gain a skill. So intent-wise, it is a good crowd. You can do wonders with this if you utilize the community as a mid-funnel strategy.
If you want to learn about building communities from the community builders themselves, then join CommunityHood today. And if you can teach our members some value, we would be more than happy to welcome you on board!