Udemy is a platform for certified and non-certified courses for self-improvement in different fields. Udemy was founded in 2010 and now has more than 16,000 courses. Every user can pay for courses and also create a course and earn money through the platform. From May 2014 to May 2015, Udemy had a 300% growth rate and raised $48 million in funding.
In the beginning Udemy had trouble creating content quickly (a classic egg-chicken problem), but they used a strategy similar to the one Quora had already implemented. They took the courses from the OpenCourseWare because their materials were free to use online. Udemy could say that their first 100 courses had come from prestigious universities like Stanford, Yale and MIT. This was a great way to get the attention from tech press like Mashable and TechCrunch. After their press coverage, Udemy got approximately 10,000 users.
They raised their first founding round of $1 million, and this amount of money was enough to get professional instructors and academics on board. However, Udemy didn’t have anything catchy until they decided to film meetings with their investors. The course named “Raising Capital for Startups” was released in different formats, and each format brought between $30,000 and $50,000 to Udemy. The platform got real traction and showed their investors its potential.
Instructors started earning more money than they used to, and in May 2013 Udemy reported that top 10 instructors had earned more than $1.6 million by selling their courses. Although Udemy is very successful now, they had to face many challenges, and building a highly scalable online-learning platform was the biggest one for sure. A combination of site optimization, A/B testing and different referral programs helped them find the best growth strategies.
These strategies got them a high level of customer satisfaction and a word of mouth that increased their LTV. Udemy is just one great example of how you can stand out from the crowd even if you have very strong competitors.