Hey there! I'm Ankur Nagpal, founder of Teachable. AMA 👇
Teachable is an online platform that enables creators to earn a living from their knowledge. We helped 50,000+ creators teach over 50 million students and earn over $1B+ in the process. After Teachable was acquired in 2020 by Hotmart Technology, I started Vibe Capital -- a venture fund to invest in early-stage technology companies worldwide. Here to answer any questions regarding starting a company, fundraising, starting a fund, and/or everything about founder mindset! AMA 👇
Hey Ankur! Thoughts on the creator economy on a macro level in 2022?
@benadamsky Came to ask the same. Do you think we'll see a lot people leave traditional jobs to become full-time creators, or will it be a passion project / side hustle?
@benadamsky Very optimistic Never before in history have so many people (50M+) started to earn a living in a somewhat similar manner... in this case, building an audience online and directly earning money from it. This is happening across geographies too We're in the first innings here, and this space we'll keep evolving as these creator businesses start to look more like businesses, and the entire suite of tools and products have to be reinvented
@benadamsky @namehra Yeah I think this whole idea of full time employment, 40 hour work week, going to the office etc etc is a relic of the industrial age 1 job is as arbitrary as 0 or 2 -- it's just the default standard we've settled on today, but will become less of a standard with time
Hey Ankur! How did you get your first 1000 paid creators at Teachable? Would you go about it differently today?
@jerrin_joy1 First ~100 -- manual hustle, cold outreach, copying and pasting the same message to lots of people, largely from Udemy Next ~900 -- lots of direct response marketing , particularly leveraging our customers who also ended up being influencers to use their audience to get us more customers. We got very, very good at live webinars Wouldnt change a thing -- in fact, help a lot of portfolio companies do the same thing
@jerrin_joy1 Broke down the strategy in more detail here: https://twitter.com/ankurnagpal/...
@jerrin_joy1 That's always the hard part isn't it? Starting out. Without clients, how do you attract others to come for the network effect. Teachable is a great product.
Oh hey @ankurnagpal 👋🏻👋🏻 What’s the most controversial course that’s ever been on the platform? How do you guys handle free speech when censorship is creeping in on online platforms everywhere these days?
@sarahadowney Hard to pick a single controversial course -- some have been truly awful but not controversial since they promoted violence against minorities etc. but as an organization we've had the hardest time with the entire genre of pick up artistry / "seduction" In general, we've tried to operate with the guiding principle of "lets not make this a platform for the thoughts and opinions of people we agree with" since that's a super slippery slope -- at the same time, when you have content that is triggering violence against a minority group, history also isn't too kind to that so we take action in those cases. And then there's rules that our 3rd party providers have -- for instance, we have to take down courses with nudity because Wistia / Stripe / other people we rely on require us to, but we're totally fine with any kind of sexual content without nudity. We've operationalized this by : 1 - Everytime there is a sale, it's reviewed by our Fraud team -- honestly, most checking to see if there actually is content - it's not money laundering etc 2 - If questions have been asked / there are questions about the content, it goes to a Content Standards Committee comprised of different parts of the co. who end up taking the final decision
What courses or topics do you wish were covered on Teachable but currently aren't?
@chrismessina Tbh, since we're distributed (a la Shopify) vs a centralized marketplace, we don't spend a ton of time dwelling on what other topics we "need" to have a well rounded repository of content What I will say though is I've been blown away by the long tail of profitable content -- we've had an instructor make 6 figures+ teaching on how to solve copper deficiency in goats !
How would you describe your decision criteria for a specific investment? As well as broadly-speaking for your fund? What are your expectations of fund performance? How do you differentiate yourself from other investors?
@share9app We invest 100% on vibes, jk We've shared a lot about what makes us different on our website: http://vibe.vc Strongly believe that small, operator funds will outperform -- and we've tried to do everything we can to rig the odds in our favor (for instance, charging 0 management fees and investing ~everything~ into companies) We'll see where it lands but our current fund is already at a 2.29x TVPI and candidly, I'm optimistic for 5x+ but who the hell knows where these things end up
Teachable is essentially a platform for people to create businesses, as well as communities. What do you think of the various businesses that enable creating communities? What is your view on the Creator Economy broadly? Where do YouTube, IG, Twitter, Discord, Patreon, etc fit into where things are going? Of these and other community products, which do you think has the most upside as a company? And the most downside-protection? Why? How does this all loop back to your point-of-view on investing opportunities?
@share9app I'm hugely bullish on businesses that help people create communities - every one of our successful creators was creating a community along with their business. I'm very biased re: the community company that has the most upside as I was was the first investor in Circle (http://circle.so) and have continued to invest at every opportunity since then (3 times) -- @sidyadav and team have been executing brilliantly Will answer the Creator Economy q somewhere else as its come up there as well
what have you learned about profitability in starting and investing in businesses?
@mgaffneyny Maybe I'm a boomer but we always operated Teachable in a way that we were ~3-6 months away from not hiring anyone to be profitable -- so never profitable, and being profitable wasn't our goal but being within touching distance of it allowed me to sleep well at night It isn't realistic for every single business -- but for us, it was the right balance between raising venture money when we could but having full control of our destiny As a result, it allowed us to have minimal dilution while raising rounds (our most recent round ~2 years before acq. was $4M on a $130M premoney) and having full board control
Regarding startup funds, how long do you think is reasonable to expect to get liquidity? What do you think early stage tech startup funds by Solo Capitalists as a class for say the 75th percentile will return vs the 85th vs the 90th vs 95th vs 99th? What %-per-year of a person's portfolio is reasonable to allocate to Solo Capitalists funds? 0.25%, 0.5%, 1%, 2%, 3%, something else?
@share9app I wouldn't deviate from the already established norm -- which is typically a ~10 year fund (extendable by 1-2 years) This is a very LONG time but it's designed like this for a reason. YMMV on what the right % to allocate to it is but it would be money I wouldn't need for a decade or so -- which for a lot of people is 5-10%. For me, it's much higher, but that's largely due to my personal life circumstances For what the benchmarks on percentiles area, I'd look up the data available for the entire venture fund asset class and benchmark against that -- the first thing you'll learn is it varies a lot by "vintage" i.e. the year the fund was started as the macroeconomic conditions play a huge role
When is our cage match
@vibe_cap @ankurnagpal you know very well as a non-corporeal entity we can't travel outside the united states. let us know when you're back stateside
Hey Ankur! Are you planning on adding integration features to Teachable (integration of Zappier & co) ?
@ankurnagpal Sorry, I forgot you had it, just was frustrated with the limited abilities of it (I was hoping to being able to do more advanced email automations) and so disregarded it. Any timeline for bringing email automations whether directly or via Zapier?
Thanks Ankur, I've been using the Teachable platform since 2017, fantastic tools, great development and upgrades. Very happy! Just wondering if you have raised money with online meetings only, and if you have one best tip for anyone doing so?
@pitchprof Our first investor ever was @brezina who I met in person + along with I'd estimate a third or so of our first round investors -- then again, this was in 2015 I don't think it matters too much today -- particularly for your first round of funding Now being on the other side of it, I almost exclusively end up investing in companies before meeting them BUT I'm an old school kinda person so I try pretty hard to meet up with the founders in the next year or so after investing in person make everything feel real
Hi Ankur. We are building The App Store of Data Science for non-coders at Datasketch (https://datasketch.co). How can I reach you to send you a 2min video about us and if you find it interesting start a Vibe conversation?
@jpmarindiaz Twitter DM is best ! I read almost every one (even if I can't reply to every single one)
How did you incorporate customer feedback loops in the early days?
@alexharris Very old school! Customer #1 was @conradwa who sat next to me for the first 2 years. Customer #2 came to our NYC office frequently to talk about the product. etc. Most early customers had my cell phone number (many still do!) and we had a super small active Facebook community that our team spent most of our time in. We had Friday happy hours where our customers were invited to come in and hang with the team, and we really did as much as we could to maximize surface area
Hi Ankur, Have you written / spoken in depth about how you got more and more teachers onto the platform? What were the tactics that really worked?
@g3mo I have actually! This thread is best for it : https://twitter.com/ankurnagpal/...
@ankurnagpal This is great. Thank you I have a follow-up question, through Vibe capital, do you only do investments into fast growing / hyper-growth companies? Do you have any other investment models that is looking at linear growth companies too? I mean, it could be outside Vibe capital too.
Hey Ankur, I'd like to get into your mind about the sale to Hotmart. If you "earned $1B+ in the process" why sell? Just curious. Thx
@garzuaga outlined a lot of our thinking here: https://medium.com/teachable/tea... the TL;DR is we thought our opportunity by partnering together was far greater than by going solo and Hotmart was really the only company where it made sense since we had so much in common and nothing but massive respect for the founders JP + Mateus
@ankurnagpal thx for replying. Interesting that from Latinamerica they grew larger, lots of food for thought when it comes to new opportunities. Cheers,
Hi Ankur! Thank you for your post! As someone with ZERO technical background, I am unsure of what is the next step I should focus on as I start to think about my business idea. My area of focus currently is the United Arab Emirates where there is significant focus on removing the stigma around mental health. My start up idea is to create a marketplace for mental health resources and professionals, making them easily accessible to people and removing the stigma around mental health. Users will be able to schedule and book appointments through the website or app. I plan to introduce some amount of gamification to encourage user adoption. Should my next step be to build a landing page of sorts and get an interest list started?
If you were to launch a product that breaks the most widespread human prejudice: "Nobody gives you anything", how would you attract credibility without going through the smoke salesman? Let me explain, if you want to launch an app that makes you earn money simply by living your life without asking for anything in return, what would you do? If your product partly reflects the dream of many people: "Earn money without doing anything" and at the same time breaks the most common prejudice in society: "Nobody gives you anything". How would you solve the problem? I'm curious about your answer. Thank you!
Are you open to investing in more community-focused startups (or would you not want to invest in more startups in the same space as Circle)?
Hey Ankur, did you happen to code whole product or out source it. What's your suggestion being from non coding background for someone looking to build product ?
My team and I are in the last stages of our consumer software MVP build, we estimate we will launch in roughly 2 months. So far we've completely bootstrapped. At what point should we go beyond just introducing ourselves to funds and begin investment engagement? Should we hire a consultant?