When gave your previous interview you said that started working on Courseburg with such “boring thing” as market analyses. Would you please tell as what do St. Petersburg dwellers want to study?
We dealt with Google and Yandex search requests and results, analyzed sources, types of courses offered by different centers as well as requests made at certain times of year. For instance, marketing and management courses are not very popular because only several hundred people per month search them on Google. It is very small amount for such a big country. Programming trainings are more in-demand. Other markets, on the contrary, are overloaded. For instance, having analyzed only open sources, we found out that currently there are 378 dance centers in St. Petersburgand, demand for them is not very high.
Furthermore we discovered several unobvious and funny results. For instance, adults look for English courses for their children, but the interesting thing was that mothers, fathers and grandfathers do that while grandmothers don’t. It turned out that they just use offline sources like advertisement and newspapers. Other funny example was that men aged 26 to 34 so self-confident that they don’t look for courses titled with “for beginners.” Men who are long past 30 and women regardless of age look for such trainings very often.
Are there any requests that don’t get enough results?
There are some market niches with low concurrency. Today dance and language centers as well as psychology and personal development trainings drive out each other, provoke dumping and reduce prices. At the same time there is a lack of cooking or massage classes. Moreover lots of online stores need conversion marketing experts who turn site visitors into customers. Judging by open vacancies there is no specialists in this field ready to teach newcomers.
There are also courses that have only online versions. Advertising and marketing trainings are presented through webinars by authoritative sources like Google. However offline courses look old-fashioned – teachers talk about Porter five forces analysis instead of directions for using Yandex.Direct of AdWords. Furthermore there is one problem when an occupation has already become a trend but there is no still enough background to train specialists of this field. For example, the market offers experts in big data analytics 200,000-30,000 rubles per month but one faces the lack of training programs in this field. In Moscow only four universities offer such courses, in St. Petersburg – only two and one of them is at ITMO University. This problem provokes another one – people have received some knowledge and obtaine skills but there is no work for them.
What solutions do Courseburg offer to solve these problems?
We started to develop this service in October and now we haven’t done all the things we planned. Currently Courseburg offers three types of courses. In the future there will be 15 ones.
Each specialist has soft skills that comprise communicative abilities and hard skills that represent applications of your knowledge. Usually to climb career ladder and double one's salary one has to gain one of two hard skills. We are going to make a “guide for competence development,” which will include instructions for specialists in different fields. For example, a candidate has completed a basic accounting course. The guide offers him or her to follow additional education training to become a chief accountant and then an expert in fiscal audit, which is much more prestigious.
Almost nobody in Russia develops career guidance services both for teenagers and adults. Usually we choose our career using advices of parents, friends and so forth. However a person needs a good salary and an activity, which correlates with his mental peculiarities and personality type. That is why we wat to add a career guidance module, which will analyze candidate’s hard skills and results of career counseling test and then offer a list of appropriate occupations. Now we take experts’ advices to develop it. It is planned to launch that at the end of the year.
Why do you deal only with offline courses?
Personally I really love online trainings but this type of courses has one problem. Usually people pick up scraps of knowledge while following them. When Massive Open Online Courses was developed American Society of Association Executives appreciated this but then found its’ disadvantages – the candidates who received MOOC certificates were too ambitious but at the same time they had no enough skills. Moreover the only 3 % of followers complete online courses and 1.5% of students pass a final exam. The training programs that require payment are more effective. In short, very often online studying is a waste of money and time.
However using only open and free online sources one can open up new occupation. For example, programming field.
This way is appropriate for some occupations. There are a lot of success stories by people who became programmers without having any background. I also read a thick book devoted to Access programming and studied it from scratch because I really needed this skill. So such examples are only exceptions.
Comparing educational markets one can say that in the nearest future online and offline education will be equal but not because offline courses will be less popular. You will scarcely trust a hairdresser who has followed a course on YouTube. One also cannot become a massage therapist without practice. I think that many fields require extra education.
Who are your competitors?
We compete with shopping aggregators and online catalogues that offer services of courses and schools. Their clients pay to put the information about their activities on a website. Furthermore usually they publish only links without any descriptions. However according to analyses users want to read about education centers before to go there so we publish biographies of lecturers and feedbacks of other students.
Now we make contacts with organizers of courses, some of them decided to use our service when read interviews and articles about our project. Sometimes representatives of ed centers don’t want to cooperate with us but most of them understand that we are not competitors because we help them to attract people. For example, we offer an option when people can look for centers using certain location on the map. So it is possible to choose a center, which is close to one’s home, university or a place where one works.
We have already started to cooperate with centers and schools in Moscow. Approximately in September one will be able to choose a city. Then we plan to give back our clients payment if they dislike a course, which they found using our service. We also want to inform about sales and give promo codes. My colleagues and I have already launched a corporate blog where we share interesting and useful information about courses and training programs. People want to upgrade their knowledge. According to statistics St. Petersburg dwellers visit one-two courses or several long-term programs per year. And we want to help them make the right choice.