$1M Raised, $40k/Mo Marketplace For Class Notes with Sieva Kozinsky

Sieva Kozinsky

In Episode #371, Nathan interviews Sieva Kozinsky, founder and CEO of StudySoup. The online marketplace now has over 5000 buyers and 1000 sellers. These sellers provide their notes and study guides for college courses. StudySoup helps their sellers learn how to be entrepreneurs and provides a unique service to college students everywhere.

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Famous 5:

  • Favorite Book? – Elon Musk’s biography
  • What CEO do you follow? — Elon Musk
  • Favorite online tool? — Slack
  • Do you get 8 hours of sleep? — “I get 6.5 to 7.5 hours.”
  • If you could let your 20-year-old self know one thing, what would it be? — “Pay attention to the signs. If something isn’t working, ditch it and move forward.”

Time Stamped Show Notes:

  • 01:05 – Nathan’s introduction
  • 02:25 – StudySoup is “an education marketplace for college students”
  • 01:55 – It’s a monthly subscription
  • 02:25 – Sellers take notes, and the buyers use those class notes
  • 03:10 – Students get “karmas” to access notes and study guides
  • 04:10 – the “karma” system
  • 05:10 – The backstory
    • 05:45 – StudySoup was tested at a few schools and took off
  • 06:10 – Year-one revenue was $45k
  • 06:25 – Now they have over 5000 subscribers
  • 06:45 – 1000 note takers
  • 07:09 – Funding is over a million
    • 07:35 – They used convertible notes
  • 08:15 – Team size
  • 08:30 – The team is distributed and remote
  • 09:25 – Trajectory
    • 09:55 – They will hit almost $4 million this year
  • 10:05 – A focus on getting more note takers
  • 10:40 – The revenue is seasonal according to class schedules
  • 11:15 – Revenue February to May is pretty consistent
  • 11:45 – About 4000 buyers used the service in March
  • 12:25 – All buyers and sellers are very active
  • 12:45 – Average purchase size is $42
  • 13:15 – A study guide is the best-selling item
  • 13:40 – What happens after a student graduates?
    • 14:15 – Expanding into grad school and high school in the future
  • 14:40 – Buyers pay 15 to 20 dollars each month
  • 15:25 – Churn is 8% to 12%, lower than the average for the industry
  • 16:20 – Acquisition cost
    • 16:30 – Training sellers to be entrepreneurs
  • 17:10 – It’s too early to see lifetime value of a customer
  • 17:40 – Contact Sieva on Twitter: @SievaKozinsky
  • 19:40 – The Famous Five

3 Key Points:

  1. When you find an idea that works, go for it.
  2. Distributed, remote teams are very doable with today’s online tools.
  3. Look for the signs that tell you the direction your business is headed.

Resources Mentioned:

  • Host Gator – The site Nathan uses to buy his domain names and hosting for cheapest price possible.
  • Freshbooks – The site Nathan uses to manage his invoices and accounts.
  • Leadpages  – The drag and drop tool Nathan uses to quickly create his webinar landing pages which convert at 35%+
  • Audible – Nathan uses Audible when he’s driving from Austin to San Antonio (1.5 hour drive) to listen to audio books.
  • Slack and Google Hangouts – The online tools that StudySoup uses to stay in touch with a distributed team.