There are various places already out there for teachers to set up an online class. But a new startup called Everpath thinks it has created a better one-stop platform for online instructors to host their lessons.
“Successful instructors kept telling us they wanted their own course platform — so, quite simply, we decided to give them what they wanted,” CEO Sandi Lin said.
Lin, Jason Stewart, and Doug Gradt all worked together at Amazon.com, but had always dreamed of building their own company. Now they are doing so with Everpath, which was accepted into the most recent class of TechStars Seattle.
We caught up with Lin, the company’s CEO, to learn more about Everpath in our latest Startup Spotlight.
Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: “We help instructors create and sell online courses.”
Inspiration hit us when: “We talked to over 50 online instructors, teaching everything from speech coaching to HTML. Successful instructors kept telling us they wanted their own course platform — so, quite simply, we decided to give them what they wanted.”
VC, Angel or Bootstrap (And Why): “Angel — we’re still early and want to hit some key milestones before scaling the business.”
Our ‘secret sauce’ is: “Our killer team. We’ve worked together at Amazon.com since 2011, most recently launching Amazon Local, a marketplace for local merchants. We deeply understand both e-commerce and the challenges of working with smaller businesses.”
The smartest move we’ve made so far: “Listening to our customers. We started TechStars as a recommendations platform for online courses, but made a major pivot in August based on extensive customer interviews. We’re confident that our new product is something instructors really want.”
The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “Not establishing our purpose for the company, which for us is greater than a specific market or idea. Early on, we worked with someone who turned out to have a different purpose. We learned how important it is to have team alignment on vision and goals.”
Would you rather have Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: “Bezos! The three of us have a combined 16 years of experience at Amazon.com. We’re total believers in the Amazon way of customer obsession, invent and simplify, and the other leadership principles.”
Our world domination strategy starts when: “Every instructor on the planet knows about our product.”
Rivals should fear us because: “We’re relentless when it comes to customer experience and execution. We know how to be scrappy as well as how to scale a business.”
We are truly unique because: “Most startups in our industry come from education backgrounds. Coming from e-commerce, we have a unique perspective. We understand our customers as both teachers and business owners.”
The biggest hurdle we’ve overcome is: “Talking to random strangers on the street (as part of customer development). It’s uncomfortable at first, but less awkward than you might think, and the learnings are invaluable.”
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: “Read Mark Suster’s post on JFDI. Too many first-time entrepreneurs spend time perfecting the business plan, pitch deck, and polishing the product. Your idea is almost certainly wrong — so get out of the building, talk to ten customers a day, and figure out the minimum product you can build to validate your assumptions.”
Startup Spotlight is an occasional look at a Pacific Northwest startup company. Have an interesting new venture you want spotlighted in GeekWire? Fill out this questionnaire in a fun and engaging style that shows off your startup’s culture. (Remember to upload photos). Past profiles can be found here.
Editor’s note: This month, GeekWire will be featuring the 11 startups participating in TechStars Seattle. This marks the fourth of those profiles. Make sure to check out TechStars Demo Day on Oct. 24th, and GeekWire Startup Day on Oct. 25th, both part of Seattle Startup Week. You will also get a chance to meet the Everpath team at the Demo Day after party, a fantastic opportunity to hang out with hundreds of Seattle entrepreneurs, investors and members of the Seattle startup ecosystem.
Past TechStars Seattle Spotlights: