Hey Makers!

I'm a big fan of new ways to educate and coach. I've written about opportunities in this space in previous issues.

Today I want to talk about another platform opportunity - text message-based interactive courses.

🔥 Problem

There are multiple challenges with building a business around online courses:

  • Competition - courses exist on any given topic, hard to get new students by creating similar online-based courses.
  • Rate of completion - people are not finishing courses, for many it's an aspirational purchase, however a low rate of completion ultimately means low value delivered.
  • Information overload - online courses try to deliver a lot of information in a few hour-long lessons. Low attention span is real and requires a new approach.
  • Lack of interactivity - video-based courses are a one-way stream. There is very little interactivity and it's very much a 'sit and listen' approach.

🧯 Solution

Building new ways of educating online. Specifically exploring text message-based interactive courses. That is, courses to which you sign up with your phone number and lessons are delivered as text messages.

👍 What are the benefits

  • Text messages force you to create tiny lessons instead of hour-long classes.
  • If you need to, you can support your point with a short video, voice message or an illustration.
  • The novel format means you are creating new educational experiences, not another video-based online course.
  • Thanks to the interactive medium of messages, you can interlace lessons with quizzes. There are some fun opportunities here. Explore apps like Kahoot or Slido to see what they are doing.
  • Because it's a text message, your students don't need to install another app.
  • Interactivity and the smaller size of lessons should help the completion rate.

🤑 Are people currently spending money on this?

  • The one platform I could find providing text message-based courses is Arist. From their case studies, they are focused on the non-profit and corporate education market. I think there is a huge opportunity in the entrepreneur, engineer, financial independence, self-growth etc. markets.
  • Shineapp is a company focused on personal growth training delivered through text messages.

💵 Possible Monetization Stream

There are two possible monetization streams:

  • Monetize the platform for creating courses (price per student & course length)
  • Create a course marketplace on top of your platform and take a cut from each course sold.

✅ What do I need to validate?

  • Are people willing to learn via text messages and pay for them?
  • Are people interacting with quizzes?
  • Are people completing courses?
  • Are course creators willing to create text message-based courses?

🧰 How I'd validate?

  • One great way to validate this idea is to embed yourself in a community, that's interested in growing and learning. They are most likely to try out a novel way of learning.
  • Create your own text message-based course. You don't even need to build a platform, you can just build it on top of Airtable and Twillio integrated through Integromat.
  • If you don't have an audience or don't know what to teach, partner with someone who's already running a course and offer to turn their course into a text message-based one. Note that you will need to put a lot of effort into transforming the course into bite-sized lessons.

🤔 How will I get my first 10 customers?

Partner with established course creators and offer to transform their courses for free in exchange for them promoting the course.

📈 Will it be sustainable?

You need to validate two things. First, are students interested in consuming lessons via text messages? Second, are creators willing to create text message-based courses? The first is more important. If you can find the demand, supply will show up.

👉 My Score

  • Usefulness: 💪💪💪 (High)
  • Complexity: 👩‍💻👩‍💻 (Medium)
  • Excitement: 🔥🔥 (Medium)
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