Will Masterclass Win Online Course Wars?

david rogier

In Episode #777, Nathan interviews David Rogier. He’s the CEO of MasterClass where he leads the company’s vision of redefining digital learning by leveraging the expertise of world-class experts with the cutting-edge technology platform. David created MasterClass after seeing how the online education space was offering low-quality content and an unfair advantage of students.

Famous Five:

  • Favorite Book? – The Science of Shopping
  • What CEO do you follow? – Jeff Bezos
  • Favorite online tool? — Doodle
  • How many hours of sleep do you get?— Average 6
  • If you could let your 20-year old self, know one thing, what would it be? – David would tell himself that entrepreneurship will be the hardest thing he’ll ever do

Time Stamped Show Notes:

  • 02:05 – Nathan introduces David to the show
  • 03:05 – MasterClass offers classes from the absolute best in the world
    • 03:14 – Online classes are offered both pre-recorded and live, both price at $90
  • 03:31 – Students can study anytime they want and they have access forever
  • 04:04 – Prior to MasterClass, David worked for a VC fund in the Bay area
    • 04:21 – David worked for Michael Dearing of Harrison Metal
    • 04:50 – Michael wrote David a check for $500K to start his idea for his business
    • 05:03 – David tried almost everything to get an idea until he remembered his grandmother’s story
    • 05:49 – His grandmother applied for medical school while working in a factory
    • 05:55 – She was rejected by almost 50 medical schools
    • 06:20 – The reason she was rejected was because she was a woman, foreigner and Jewish
    • 06:27 – One school accepted her and she became a doctor
    • 06:53 – She told David that education is the only thing that people can’t take away from him
  • 07:04 – David thought of getting into the education space and studied it
  • 07:53 – MasterClass was launched in May of 2015
  • 08:00 – Total capital raised was around $50M
  • 08:35 – The fund goes to expanding the team as well as production so they can shoot more classes
  • 08:42 – Team size is currently 68 and will be 100 at the end of 2017
  • 09:04 – Year One: number of students
  • 10:13 – When they started, David was expecting a 10X increase in sales daily
    • 10:38 – David cried after their first day of sales
  • 11:18 – Reid Benson who is part of David’s sales team and was formerly with Netflix, wasn’t even scared after the launch
    • 11:58 – Reid told David that their CAC was amazingly low
  • 12:34 – The first 3 classes were led by Dustin Hoffman, James Patterson and Serena Williams
  • 13:06 – The CAC for different subjects was actually close to each other
  • 13:43 – Paid ads spent on Day 1 were less than $100K
  • 14:14 – Paid advertising on different channels works well for MasterClass
    • 14:22 – Instructors are also promoting their classes
  • 15:00 – David can’t disclose the deal they have with the instructors
    • 15:13 – Most instructors teach because they really want to teach and not just to earn from it
  • 15:51 – David shares how they handle instructors who don’t want to teach, but want to share their knowledge
    • 16:10 – Classes are designed by how instructors want to share their own craft
    • 16:14 – Instructors have complete control over their class
    • 16:28 – David shares what a class looks like for Serena Williams
  • 17:24 – MasterClass partners with the instructors in their classes
  • 18:17 – David shares why he won’t share the deal with the instructors
    • 18:38 – James Patterson teaches with MasterClass because of his own reasons
  • 21:00 – David shares why instructors pick MasterClass over LinkedIn, which is more popular
  • 21:50 – There are now 20 classes in MasterClass
  • 22:07 – The number of classes should double, year over year
  • 22:52 – Half to 80% of their first students haven’t taken any online classes before
  • 23:10 – Not all students are fans of the instructors
  • 23:43 – David won’t sell MasterClass for $300M
  • 25:15 – The Famous Five

3 Key Points:

  1. Never miss an opportunity being offered to you, it was offered to you for a reason; so trust yourself and go for it.
  2. Most successful people in their field want to share their craft through any way possible.
  3. Education is one thing that people can’t take away from you.

Resources Mentioned:

  • Simplero – The easiest way to launch your own membership course like the big influencers do but at 1/10th the cost.
  • The Top Inbox – The site Nathan uses to schedule emails to be sent later, set reminders in inbox, track opens, and follow-up with email sequences
  • GetLatka – Database of all B2B SaaS companies who have been on my show including their revenue, CAC, churn, ARPU and more
  • Klipfolio – Track your business performance across all departments for FREE
  • Hotjar – Nathan uses Hotjar to track what you’re doing on this site. He gets a video of each user visit like where they clicked and scrolled to make the site a better experience
  • Acuity Scheduling – Nathan uses Acuity to schedule his podcast interviews and appointments
  • Host Gator– The site Nathan uses to buy his domain names and hosting for the cheapest price possible
  • Audible– Nathan uses Audible when he’s driving from Austin to San Antonio (1.5-hour drive) to listen to audio books
  • Show Notes provided by Mallard Creatives