How has the world of online education changed in the last 8 years?
When we founded busuu 8 years ago there was very limited smartphone or tablet usage, no app stores, no compelling adaptive learning systems, no social language learning platforms and no dynamic education webpages. This has changed drastically into an abundance of offerings on web and mobile today. It has never been easier to sign-up for courses online on almost any given subject, connect with like-minded people from around the world and do all this on-the-go, whenever you like.
What challenges have you overcome through the process of growing busuu?
From our humble beginnings in a study room at IE, busuu has grown into a company with a current member base of over 60 million and 50+ employees with its headquarters in London. In our field, naturally, state-of-the-art technology is crucial for successfully delivering a product. With an ever expanding user base, scaling your infrastructure can become an enormous challenge. Team building and personnel in general can become a challenge when you grow as fast as we did. How do you find the best talent? How do you build a team culture and maintain it? Financial challenges can equally be testing. When do you need which type of money to come in? Does it need to be smart? How smart?
From idea to the final product there almost never is a straight line. Our journey has been a journey of constant learning with thousands of decisions to take along the way, some small, some big.
What would you do differently?
In retrospect, I would scale even faster after the first positive product/market fit iteration. Between my co-founder Bernhard and myself, we had marketing, finance and technology covered. The second time around, I would definitely get a designer involved much earlier.
If you could give one single advice to a fellow alumnus starting a business what would it be?
Just do it, with persistence!