Anticipating the next shift in e-learning for startups and professionals

We’ve been running live-cohort and on-demand programs at Growth U now for over a year now. Prior to that, I was both an operator of numerous startups, as well as a mentor who conducted hundreds of 1:1 sessions with founders digging into their pain points around startup growth. What’s great about 1:1 sessions is you’re able to quickly assess the most critical needs of the startup, and work with your mentee on solutions to these needs. However, this model breaks down in its inability to scale. One simply cannot meet with enough founders 1:1 to realize the ultimate goal we have at Growth University – to reduce the odds of failure for startups we intersect with. We are after something more profound – we want to make a real difference in the world of startups and entrepreneurship. So inherently we needed to productize our offering to reach many people at one time.

With this, we moved into running live-cohort programs. When I built the first iteration of my Mastering Growth program, I had a grand vision of providing a start to finish playbook for founders looking to grow their startups. And while it’s safe to say that after 100+ companies have been through this program there is immense value here, it always slightly bothered me that the long-form nature of the program meant that super busy founders often couldn’t set aside an hour or more per week to attend. It also means that there are potential schedule conflicts, timezone issues, and more challenges. In terms of inclusion, the live-cohort model is fairly limited.

On the flip side, the founders who are able to attend rave about the program. And we’re hearing stories now of founders who literally say we changed the trajectory of their startup. Here’s a great thread on that. So while there are some challenges with the model, we are not willing to throw away the option of live-cohort learning.

The next iteration of our model came based on customer input – our members wanted to be able to consume content on their own, during the times that worked for them. Thus began our journey into our large library of on-demand content. What was live could also be made on-demand, and what’s on-demand could be accessible 24/7 by anyone with a laptop and a bit of time.

In terms of feedback, a similar thing happened: people love the long form on-demand format, and love the flexibility it gives them. If you want to really get great at focus area with in growth – say Google Advertising – our long form on-demand programs are amazingly detailed, actionable, and leave you with ways to put the learning to work immediately.

But as we think to the future, we’re also acutely aware that both the live-cohort and on-demand programs potentially lack something important. Namely, they may provide too much information over too long of a timeframe to be most relevant to the largest number of people. Simply put – there are probably many things you need right now as a startup founder, and you need to learn, iterate, measure, and repeat. And you need to do that quickly. Rapid iterations is the lifeblood of a startup, and those who can consume trusted learnings the fastest and who can apply them almost immediately will have an unfair advantage over other startups: speed.

When we reflect on the reasons why our members have signed up for our programs, or why a mentee may book a mentoring slot with me – it’s because they generally have to figure something out, right now. The starting point of almost every member we activate is a real and usually acute problem they are seeing in their business. They need help solving one or more problems, and they probably need the help immediately.

Most of the time right now we’re able to steer our members into the best fitting long form program that we offer, and send them on their way. And sure, we have some forward thinking members who know where they want to go and just need help building their growth playbook and are willing to put in a lot of time doing so. But the vast majority of our founders and marketers whom we work with know they can trust us to help them solve a pain point that they likely tried to solve on their own, and failed. This is where our next iteration comes in. Our live-cohort and on-demand programs will continue on – there is still a ton of value in them, especially for folks looking to go super deep into a topic and to put the work in to learn.

But we’re also going to be launching a new set of ways to learn in the coming weeks. Our goal is to dramatically reduce the amount of time needed to go from problem to solution, and to ultimately save founders precious time.

We’ve already been getting this feedback – see below – but now we’re going to rapidly iterate on our own offerings so that everyone we come across can feel like Matt:

The hour I spent every week in Growth University easily saved me 10-20 hours of trying to figure things out on my own, and likely getting wrong the first time around. I can’t recommend this course enough for all founders who want to nail their growth strategy without reinventing the wheel.

Matt Johnson, Taskable

Our new model will resemble a search engine meets personalized recommendation system for all things growth.

Simply answer a couple key questions about your current challenge, and you’ll be presented with a set of bite sized through long-form content items and assets that you can quickly learn from and put to work.

Want to go deeper into that topic? Great – we’ll have longer form content and perhaps even a program or two to recommend.

Need even more help? You can book time with us to gain our perspective, or get connected to a peer who might be able to share some valuable experiences with you that’ll help you grow.

Our vision is to reduce the number of startups that fail each year globally. And to do this, we’re packaging up the best content – long form and short form, assets, playbooks, guides, programs, and people to help our members put their best growth effort forward.

Look for changes to our core user experience soon!

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