Introduce your startup and give a short description of what you are doing.
European leader in Digital Learning solutions, OpenClassrooms.com is a platform of online courses. The OpenClassrooms community includes over 1 million members today, and about 3 million users visit the platform each month to learn from its catalog of over 1,000 online courses, including the biggest ones in MOOC format.
OpenClassrooms has established itself by developing career oriented and certified courses, recognized for their pedagogical quality and their innovative services such as on-demand course access, the option to set your own learning pace, personalized mentoring to complete a learning path, and access to additional resources like eBook and video downloads.
Who are the founders, how did you meet, what are your different roles in the startup.
Mathieu Nebra and Pierre Dubuc are the two co-founders of OpenClassrooms and they are both under 30 years old today, in 2015.
Together they lead a start-up of 30 employees recognized as one of the most promising projects in European edTech.
Mathieu Nebra crafts the content, defines the vision and drives the innovation, Pierre Dubuc crafts the product, promotes the brand and leads the team.
How was the idea for your startup born?
Mathieu Nebra started in 1999 when he was just 13 years old. He was quickly joined in the adventure by Pierre Dubuc, only 11 at this time. They couldn’t have imagined that the hobby they invested in a few hours after school would become a start-up with 30 employees and close to three million unique visitors per month a few years later. The OpenClassrooms embryo was called Site du Zero and emerge as a response to what angered Mathieu Nebra most in the world : to see someone leave their studies because they felt unable to learn. The young businessman wanted to create a website that would work « as that friend who helps you move forward in a course », he recalls.
OpenClassrooms developed into a huge community of people interested in learning new computer developer and programming skills, but also about marketing, communications and business.
In 2013, OpenClassrooms expanded its offering to include MOOCs, trainings and tutorials.
What is the main problem in education that you aim to solve.
Move forward with a new way of education and learning challenge is no more an innovation, it’s a fact. We are convinced, and the educational market shows it, that self-paced training and open online courses are the key to success in a lifelong learning approach. There are barriers in learning, what we need is to give the opportunity to anyone to learn any subject at anytime. Sharing their knowledge and expertise is the best way to learn more and better.
Who are your competitors? What sets you apart from them?
Several competitors are in the scope today, but we consider any of them to have exactly the same business model really.
The closest competitors for us are Udemy (US) and Udacity (US). Udemy has the same approach of community authors as we do, and Udacity turns into a B2B business model that is pretty close to ours with companies as well.
Other big MOOC competitors are: Coursera (US), edX (US), FutureLearn (UK), Iversity (DE) but they are all academic marketplaces, and we are neither academic nor a marketplace.
Some vertical competitors are really strong also, including: CodeSchool or Treehouse but their business models are not the same as ours.
What puts us in a really unique position is our business model: we are the first and the only MOOC platform to set up a freemium model with a monthly or annual subscription and with advanced functionalities, resources.
Besides the business model, it’s precisely the teaching method the platform uses, its review and student support system, what differentiates OpenClassrooms from other MOOCs. The technology of the platform is an algorithm that automatically assigns users with exercices and other classmate’s homework that they must evaluate and comment on as part of their own work. Each reviewer, in turn, gets marked by three other students. And having to correct others forces them to organize their knowledge which is a great way to learn.
In which markets / regions are you active. What markets / regions are next.
All french speaking regions, mostly France, the Benelux countries, Canada, and Africa.
In a next step we will expand to English speaking regions, mostly in Europe to start with.
Who is your target audience.
We like to say that OpenClassrooms is open for everyone, although from a business perspective our core audience are users between 24 to 50 years of age, people who want to learn and acquire new professional skills.
How do you engage with your target audience. How do you convert them into users of your product.
We have a lot of organic traffic thanks to our SEO. And we invest in marketing and PR to acquire new audiences. We create awareness for the OC brand in our local market, where it is already really well known and also on a worldwide scale, essentially around french speaking courses today, but we are expanding to english courses this year.
What is your business model. How much does your product / service cost.
OpenClassrooms launched its Premium Service in 2013, giving access and added value such as Certificates and Degrees, eBooks and video downloads, self-paced learning, etc.
OpenClassrooms is also a pioneer in the space with its freemium model which gives anyone free access to advanced functionalities and unlimited access to courses from 20€ per month.
If you raised funding, how much did you raise. Who are your investors. If not, are you planning to raise funding.
We raised €2 millions with Alven Capital.
Are there milestones you are especially proud of and would like to share.
1 million members recently!
3 millions visitors each month!
And the last announcement of French president François Hollande giving all jobseekers in France unlimited access to OpenClassrooms.
What are the next steps in growing your startup.
During his presentation at the latest TEDx Mathieu Nebra concluded: A few months ago, a headhunter told us that 1 in 20 resumés in France contained an OpenClassrooms certificate. This is big. It shows that interviewers’ questions are moving away from “What did you learn at school?” to “How fast can you learn new stuff?”
One of our next big steps is certainly to offer our members the possibility to put into practice what they learn and find a job.
Accelerate our content development as well as build strong learning paths and new certificates. We are already one of the top producers of MOOCs worldwide with nearly 50 MOOCs in one year. Each MOOC is entirely produced in-house with our community our authors and of course with our partners (companies, universities and high schools).
Internationalisation is also one of our big next steps.
How can people get in touch with you.
Anything else you would like to add.
“Everyone can learn, and because everyone can share, now it’s your turn. Start learning again. And don’t forget to give back a bit of what you know”, Mathieu Nebra, cofounder of OpenClassrooms