[Interview] Mila Semeshkina, CEO & Founder, Lectera.com: Convenient and Fast Learning is What Customers Expect
Lectera.com has achieved great results since its launch in summer 2020: from generating a first annual revenue surpassing 5 million USD, to attracting customers from 50 different countries, Kenya being one of the key markets.
We have been granted permission to share with you the most important insights from the interview Mila Semeshkina conducted with Business Insider Africa about her experience as a founder of a successful EdTech company.
Where did the idea of creating Lectera come from?
Lectera’s origin story is quite a personal one, really. It all goes back to the time when I had just completed my degree at Moscow State University and then applied for a postgraduate course. As a student, I was always short of money and, as I soon found my first job, I was extremely sleep-deprived. Working as a marketing specialist during the day and writing my dissertation in the evenings, I soon realised that the world around me was changing at such a pace that was making my unfinished paper grow less and less relevant by the day.
It was at this point in my life that I realised that in order to build a successful career and grow as a person, one has to have access to certain tools that will allow them to learn faster and more effectively by only using the most relevant information. So I thought, why not create such a tool myself – and this was when Lectera came into the picture.
We know that Lectera courses are based on a special kind of educational methodology. What exactly does this teaching method include?
As a foundation for our Lectera platform, I have created a unique methodology called Fast Education. Focusing mainly on practical knowledge and fast results, this technique allows us to ensure that the information provided to our customers is as digestible as possible – both with the help of video tutorials and some additional materials available within the course.
When developing this methodology, we have decided to step away from the traditional online learning strategies in favour of a more modern approach. In line with this new method, we are choosing to avoid the use of stop-lessons and compulsory home assignments while also keeping the amount of mentors – who usually comprise around 80% of the course’s price – to a minimum.
Another unique feature that distinguishes Lectera from other platforms is that it is the only platform to offer courses in five different languages, including English, Spanish, German, Russian, and Hindi. With around 30% of our customers using the platform to practice their foreign language skills and improve their vocabulary while completing the course, we consider this feature to be one of our company’s main strengths.
Recently, Lectera celebrated its first anniversary. What results did you manage to achieve within that time?
One of the biggest results we managed to achieve within our first year in the market is a customer base of 180,000 people from 50 countries around the world. Apart from Russia and post-Soviet states, which make up the majority of our customer base, our platform is equally as popular in Latin America – with Mexican users comprising our second largest student group – followed by India and African countries. Overall, the two main criteria that determine the popularity of our courses are the country’s level of job market competition and its preference for practical skills over the traditional university degrees.
In addition to this, we have also expanded the range of courses available on the platform by introducing a number of new programs, such as Lectera Corp and Lectera Teens. As for the first program, it focuses specifically on our corporate clients, as nowadays we see a significant increase in demand for our courses within the B2B sector compared to the B2C one. As for Lectera Teens, this program is targeted at our younger students, allowing them to speed up the learning process while also making it more enjoyable at the same time.
We were also thrilled to hear that our innovative methodology didn’t go unnoticed. Among our biggest achievements is the prestigious EdTech Breakthrough Award won by Lectera as the best lifelong learning platform of 2021, and my nomination for the most promising startup CEO by the international EdTech Awards.
Nowadays, what are the main trends you see in the education market? Which subject areas are most in-demand among your customers?
Personally, I see two main trends in the education market: the first one being customers’ willingness to speed up the learning process, and the second to make it as convenient as possible. Nowadays, people don’t want to spend years – or even months – learning something they wish to learn. Instead, they opt for more practice-oriented education that allows them to apply their skills here and now. They are also no longer willing to change their daily routine for the sake of education, but are prepared to devote a certain amount of their free time to it whenever they feel like it. Each day more and more people are starting to use mobile apps to help them learn things on their way to work or during their lunch breaks, as it serves as a fast, cheap, and effective way of improving their skills. It is absolutely crucial that education providers take that factor into account if they want to secure their place in the market and stay in it for as long as possible.
As for the most in-demand subject areas, they include sales, digital marketing and soft skills, as they allow our customers to acquire skills that can be used for personal development and successful employment. There are also a number of courses that have only been introduced recently but are already starting to gain more popularity with our users, including female leadership courses as well as our Lectera Teens programs.
Tell us a bit more about Lectera’s future plans. Is there any exciting news in stock?
One of our main goals for the upcoming year is to launch our platform in both the USA and Canada. We realise how experienced and demanding American customers are and how important it is for our business to reach the American market in order to become a truly international company. Although we already have an office in Miami, we were forced to postpone Lectera’s American launch last year due to the coronavirus pandemic and the respective travel restrictions.
In addition to this, we are also planning to introduce a full-scale affiliate program that will allow our customers to use Lectera to acquire new skills, and make some money, too. We believe that if our courses have been of use to someone, it is essential that they recommend it to their friends or colleagues, helping us increase our customer base while also getting paid for the promotion of our services.
By the end of the year, we are also planning to increase the number of Lectera courses to 200, all of them being available in 5 different languages. As for the next year, we are hoping to more than double the said amount to approximately 500 courses in total. In the worst-case scenario, this will allow us to achieve a customer base of around 500,000 people, but in reality, we are hoping to reach the milestone of one million users by as early as the end of 2022.
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