By Derek Newton
For many education companies, growth is slow. In fact, for most, growth doesn’t happen at all – they misread the market, don’t understand the value proposition they’re trying to deliver or simply do not expect the long, complicated cycles of sales and review and efficacy.
Every now and again though, a company comes along that hits everything right, a company that understands what it can offer and connects with eager constituents. Given the universal appeal and market for education, when that happens, explosive growth is possible. The best part is that that kind of rare education synergy, that serendipity can come from anywhere.
Judging by its growth alone, Learn with Leaders looks to be a company that’s found a big hole in the education market and is filling it quickly.
Ponder these numbers.
In just ten months, Learn with Leaders has already served more than 10,000 students from more than 80 countries. Their wares and services are already connected with more than 850 schools and education providers worldwide. And when they started – again, less than a year ago – their revenue was just $1,000 a month. As of June 30 of this year, company’s revenue had ballooned to ten times that – crossing $110,000 monthly.
For any company anywhere, that’s remarkable.
Their successful formula is pretty simply and shockingly successful.
Gunjan Aggarwal, one of the company founders, says they do three things all at once. They’re bucking the traditional education formula, that worn out road map of educational process, adding in best-in-class and brand name educational products, all while keeping a focus on building international networks and expanding a student’s view of the possible.
Maybe that does not sound simple. That’s fair enough. But it’s difficult to argue that there’s no interest in new pathways to and through education, especially in places such as India, where Learn with Leaders is based.
“What appeals to student and parents so much about what we’re doing,” Aggarwal said, “Is that we’re upending the old formula that so many of us grew up in – ace your exams and get to a good college, work on your memorizing skills, ace your exams again and then get your MBA and then get a good job.”
One of the problems with all that is, Aggarwal says, that there’s no room for kids to just be kids, to explore what works for them.
“The system is too rigid,” she said. “There’s too much pressure in it and it just doesn’t work for most students.” Moreover, she says, “When students get to their final year, they’re not ready for the real world – not ready for corporate culture, not prepared to work in teams, to solve real problems, not ready to use communications skills they were probably never taught in the first place.”
To those who understand education, that’s not a new or unique critique. To the contrary, it’s a widely held view. What makes Learn with Leaders different is that they’ve unlocked a solution.
What they’ve done is partner with faculty, mentors, centers and student organizations in the some of the biggest brands in the global education – names such as Harvard, MIT, Yale, Stanford and others – offering their short courses and programs to students in custom designed packages along with real and unprecedented opportunities for engagement with the instructors and business leaders leading those courses.
And not just academics. Learn with Leaders helps students engage with and build networks with business leaders, practitioners and experts in just about everything from just about everywhere.
In other words, Learn with Leaders isn’t just repacking video lessons; they’re letting students engage with global leaders in their fields and build networks around those experiences. The company’s Coffee with Leaders offering is a great example of the type of small group engagement that Learn with Leaders is pouring in with its customized, top-brand course programs.
By customizing the courses and letting young scholars meet global leaders personally, the real benefit, says Aggarwal, is in giving kids the chance to see new opportunities, imagine new futures and get off the tired, boxed-in education track. “When they come to us, they actually get hope to do other things,” she said. “These amazing young people get the ability to speak up and share what they feel and most tell us, ‘no one has ever asked me what I wanted before.’”
Again, if you follow global education, that’s a common, sad refrain.
The good news is that a sense of agreement about these challenges means there’s plenty of interest and business opportunity in solving them. Squeezing together high-quality, name brand educational resources, with individualized attention and engagement opportunities as well as real world network and experience building feels like a great way to start.
The better news is someone is actually doing it. Judging by their early returns, Learn with Leaders is on the right path to doing it very well.