Though the biggest hype is over, MOOCs are still considered one of the hot topics in higher education. From heavily venture backed US-based platforms like Coursera, edX and ex-MOOC Udacity to state funded projects like Université Numérique in France, MOOCs play an important role in providing free access to world class education on the Internet.
Introduce your startup and give a short description of what you are doing.
iversity.org is a European-based online education platform that enables anyone to study at a university of their choice from anywhere. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) represent the biggest media revolution in the academic world since the invention of the blackboard. They make the spatial, temporal and financial restrictions of higher education things of the past. As Europe’s leading provider of online courses, iversity brings excellent university teaching into the digital age. Online learners can have their achievements recognised with verified certificates. Course certificates can award real university credit and serve as proof of qualification for more and more employers everyday.
Who are the founders, how did you meet, what are your different roles in the startup.
In 2008, iversity’s co-founders Jonas Liepmann and Hannes Klöpper were working independently on digital projects in the education sector. Both were unsatisfied by the digital infrastructure in use in the German university system. Jonas went on to develop a learning platform concept that enabled working groups from different universities to exchange and cooperate online. He called his platform iversity. At the same time, Hannes and some friends were working on their award winning idea to publish university lectures and other educational materials online with a social layer that would allow for student interaction online. Hannes and Jonas joined forces in 2011 and began to raise funding. After the success of open online courses in the USA, iversity decided to become a European-based MOOC platform in 2013.
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What is the main problem in education that you aim to solve.
Education is currently expensive and offered to limited audiences only. iversity offers free courses that make the spatial, temporal and financial restrictions of higher education things of the past. MOOCs are accessible to everyone, everywhere. Further, we make online education count by offering certificates for our graduates. iversity seamlessly integrates with the ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System), as courses can offer students the chance to earn certificates that award ECTS credits – the common currency of the European academic market.
Who are your competitors? What sets you apart from them?
Our main competitors on the market of online education are EdX, Udacity and Coursera. iversity is the leading platform for online education in Europe. We are the only MOOC platform offering ECTS credits, which are recognised by universities.
In which markets / regions are you active. What markets / regions are next.
iversity is Europe’s leading provider of online courses. Still, many of our users live outside Europe, in India, the US, Pakistan or Nigeria. In the future, iversity continues to seek out more partnerships with universities and individual instructors. In doing so, we want to reach even more learners around the globe.
Who is your target audience.
Courses at iversity appeal to online learners of all ages, origins and professional backgrounds. They have the opportunity to either supplement their present studies, advance their professional skills or explore subjects out of personal interest.
Our partners are universities that aim to bring their teaching and disciplines into the new realm of digital education and are eager to share their fascination and field of expertise with thousands of students from all over the world at one time. We help them in applying the best digital didactics into their course and attracting online learners to their course.
How do you engage with your target audience. How do you convert them into users of your product.
Education is in high demand and our attractive pricing model is tailored precisely for the various needs of our users who enjoy interaction within our courses and thereby contribute to a course’s success.
We support our instructors during the course production process and advise them on how to best communicate with their students. In addition, we help help them when it comes to issuing certificates. iversity supports all users of the platform – students and professors – not only technically but also with all kinds of other questions.
Further, coordinated and tailored Marketing campaigns by universities and iversity help spreading the word about our courses.
What is your business model. How much does your product / service cost.
iversity earns revenue through the sale of certificates, which online learners receive after successfully completing courses on iversity.org. Universities offering courses on iversity.org can award ECTS-Credits for completed courses. The European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) has given rise to an open market for portable academic credit. Further, the high demand for educational services does not only come from students but all kinds of lifelong learners. iversity provides all of them with further education in an international learning environment. An online course is much more affordable than courses offered by most institutions today. This model is also scalable: Whether 10 or 10,000 students take a course, the production costs are the same, not to mention that the same course can be repeated over and over again.
Depending on the course offered on iversity.org, students can choose from up to 4 different tracks, leading to 4 different types of certificates. Enrolment to all courses is free-of-charge, as is a Statement of Participation. Certificates of Accomplishments offered for courses on iversity.org come with varying costs – depending on the certificate type, the prices range between €49 and €149.
If you raised funding, how much did you raise. Who are your investors. If not, are you planning to raise funding.
iversity functions as an intermediary between supply and demand. We are currently testing out the model in the international education market. The initial results are promising. Our investors agree: Our start-up has raised more than €5 million (US-$ 7,3 million) in venture capital.
Our investors are: T-Venture, bmp media investors, BFB Frühphasenfonds, Masoud Kamali, Westtech Ventures, CRALS, Peter Zühlsdorf, Kontor B45
Are there milestones you are especially proud of and would like to share.
After iversity’s relaunch as a MOOC-Platform in 2013, we are very proud of the first ECTS exams that took place in January 2014. In collaboration with iversity’s academic partners, online learners were able to take the first ever paid final, on-site exams, through which iversity earned its first revenues.
What are the next steps in growing your startup.
iversity is currently seeking new academic partners to attract an even bigger audience of lifelong learners all around the globe.
How can people get in touch with you.
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