This article is written by Jeremiah Uke, a Contributor Author at Startup Istanbul.
Eren Bali is an entrepreneur, CEO, and co-founder of Carbon Health, for 9 years and counting he has also served as a co-founder and CEO of Udemy, an online learning platform used all over the world, Eren was present as a speaker at the Etohum Startup Istanbul 2014 conference, where he narrated his journey with his now global ed-tech startup.
Udemy got its first $1 million in funding from one investor, which helped them launch full-time, and got them real traction and users. One year later Udemy raised $3 million, a year later, they raised $12 million, and another year later, they raised $22 million. Udemy raised a total of $48 million and as at 2014, had 4 million online students, of which 25% of the students were paying for courses on the platform, much to the surprise of Udemy investors. People were actually paying for content, the first paid course was called “raising money for startups”, it was priced at about $19, it had tactical information for startups including pitching, sending emails and dealt with legal issues too.
Udemy had close to 15,000 instructors on the platform in 2014, these instructors have courses on the website, some instructors have made more than a million dollars on the platform, the top instructor has made $5 million so far, while there are other instructors who are making 300,000-400,000 per year. Every month, Udemy sends about 6000 cheques, meaning that at least 6000 people make money from the platform, therefore, Udemy created a job which did not exist before which is teaching online. Eren advised the pitching startups at Startup Istanbul on common mistakes to avoid when pitching their solution.
Most of the successful companies were not the best pitchers or fundraisers at their early stage, so don’t try to be perfect at everything. Most successful startups are not amazing at everything they do, they are usually amazing at just one thing, and that is what investors are looking for.
Good investors do not look for startups that are likely to be successful, they look for startups who are most likely to not be successful, but, if you turn out to be successful, your startup will be a very big company. There are 50 reasons why Uber could have been unsuccessful as an early stage startup, but investors overlook these and think of the outcome of the company if all the loopholes are properly closed.
Most boring pitches have a reasonable solution behind them, the pitches seem to not just be interesting, when Eren pitched Udemy, his special edge was that the problem of education is not the quality, but the excess, while people were focusing on building a really beautiful learning environment for a smaller number of users. Eren was thinking of the many people in the world who do not have access to anything for learning, so why not build a scalable environment and distribute a lot of different courses to the right audience.