Inspired by Elon Musk, I took a break one Friday evening from building and started putting together my master plan for Tutorpass. It sounds naïve to pen something so early into building a product which might inevitably end up in failure. Regardless of the outcome, I’d like to reflect upon this piece in the next few years.
6 in a million. Those are the chances that a tech startup will be successful.
From day 1, the odds are against you. The process of building something carries immense reputational, psychological and financial risk.
So why bother?
Well, for me, nothing beats the excitement of creating something new. I am six months into the process as a solopreneur on a limited budget with nothing to show but a meek prototype. Despite this, I remain encouraged by the vision of the future I am trying to build.
As you know, Tutorpass’ first product is a course creator and community management tool due for release at the end of the year. However, Tutorpass’ long-term plan is to build out the world’s best teaching and learning infrastructure.
The overarching purpose of Tutorpass (and the main reason I am starting this company) is to help expedite the move from an institution-led, credential-based educational system to one focused more on competency and skills. Our educational system works great for its intended purpose. But what we need now is a replacement for a better purpose.
I’m a firm believer that faster and cheaper pathways to good jobs are the best way to boost equity and combat income inequality. We can tackle any economic crisis head-on with a leaner approach to reskilling and upskilling.
From speaking to friends going through a career change, I’ve learnt that they rarely need high-level guidance or direction. They need mentors who can pair career advice with practical knowledge, support and accountability that will help them land jobs. There’s not much of that out there.
While tutoring and mentoring younger students, I empathise with the pressure they experience. Fresh out of high school, we force them to go through a turgid University application process with insufficient counsel. In doing so, they shelter themselves from the “real world” in an academic bubble, accumulate lots of debt and graduate with little work experience.
Dedicating 3-4 years of your life to studying something that you were remotely interested in as a teenager makes little sense in an increasingly fast-paced world.
For many, it becomes a sunk cost.
Granted — many startups are currently solving the abovementioned problems. Mercedes Bent, Partner at Lightspeed Ventures, put together an excellent article that highlights these efforts at large. However, to succeed, we need to aim higher. We need to offer an educational experience that you can’t have in the classroom.
Here is Tutorpass’ three-step master plan which attempts to fix this.
First, build a course creator and community management tool. It will offer learners a collection of unique, hybrid, self-paced and cohort-based courses. Instructors can create their courses on Tutorpass and have the option to sell them through Tutorpass or on alternative platforms, such as Gumroad.
Initially, I don’t think most course creators will want to use Tutorpass, especially considering the risk of migrating their livelihood to a relatively new platform. I will need to create the first set of courses myself and slowly build up interest on the side.
If you want to help, and have something interesting to teach, then please get in touch.
From there on, the plan is to share Tutorpass with creators that have progressively larger audiences.
Second, expand the platform’s functionality to address all major segments of the teaching and learning market. At this stage, Tutorpass shifts to being an integrated suite of products. Now, the focus is interoperability — Tutorpass’ core offering will be an SDK or API (e.g. for reference, look at Agora, Stripe or Scale AI that serves as the building blocks for the teaching and learning experiences of the future.
Learning and development budgets are growing. For example:
- JPMorgan Chase added the tidy sum of $350M to their $250M plan to upskill their workforce.
- Amazon is investing over $700M to provide upskilling training to their employees.
- PwC is spending $3B to upskill all of its 275,000 employees over the next three to four years.
How can Tutorpass’ integrated suite of products help organisations reach their learning and development goals?
Third, start the transition from “bits to brick” as the Tutorpass product matures.
I see value in spinning off a Lambda School style offering, which positions the company as an education provider. Once again, Tutorpass’ integrated suite of products will help create faster, cheaper learning experiences that guarantee jobs for people in various sectors.
Building on-ramps that bring people from nothing (no opportunity) to something is the most interesting good one could do in the world. How do we get to a point where we can support everyone to find and realise their potential?
In short, the Tutorpass master plan is:
- Build a tool that many people will use.
- Use the money from 1) to build some online infrastructure that many companies and institutions will use.
- Use the money from 2) to set up some offline infrastructure that everyone will use.
There’s a high likelihood of me failing — but I think it’s worth a shot.
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