Co.Creator is working with 10+ global organisations, delivered over 3000 hours of learning, on average resulting in 90% having customers, and generated total of $2m+ in funding or revenue.
Founder: James Gutteridge
Problem: Schools in co-op relationships struggle with existing distance learning solutions being very costly, heavily relies on school resources such as teachers and timetable alignment, and not able to offer niche subject demands.
Nano Academy: We exist to enable schools to rapidly boost capacity, course subjects and academic results for a million+ students with a teacher-led virtual learning.
Impact rating of Co.Creator:
Recommendation (out of 10) :
Funding pipeline identified:
Had the year for a year before joining Co.Creator:
"(1) Lack of experience in creating a startup - I didn't know how to test my idea, look for customers, what an MVP was, what 'getting out of the building' meant and how important it is, (2) I didn't know how to deal with rejection - I had tried registering my school with the Tasmanian School Registration Board but couldn't deal with their lack of acceptance (3) I didn't have anyone to help me who knew about creating a startup and who believed in my idea (4) The business books I had read simply talked about failure, but I hadn't experienced it with customers at all to know what they actually meant."
"My idea was to create an online school aimed at home-schoolers. I now have 2 solutions that are being tested - The Nano Academy, which offers online courses to existing schools, and the Nano School, which is an online summer school with elements of virtual and physical socialisation. These are much more nuanced solutions than what I had, because they have been iterated with real customer feedback. They are also the minimum viable product, rather than a full school, which is much easier to sell and provides a way out of the rut I was in."
"A huge amount (progress)! Whilst I read a lot about business and love the topic, nothing had prepared me for this experience. I had been taking the comfortable option of reading about it, rather than doing it. I was almost instantly thrown out of my comfort zone to get out of the building. This involved, for me, making constant phone calls to schools and parents in Australia, trying to work out their pains and how I could solve them, and creating surveys. In the process I have now first-hand experienced rejection from customers and failure, which is vital for success. I was also introduced to Steve Blank's online course 'How to build a startup', and without Zevae's introduction to and guidance through this I wouldn't have known to take his advice seriously. The best thing about the program was having the constant accountability. Even when there were times I didn't feel like making calls, I knew I had to in order to progress. I now know what it takes to make this idea, and any idea, a reality. I especially wouldn't have thought about talking to customers before releasing a final product (fears about the idea being stolen, or talking about something that doesn't exist), yet now it makes perfect sense, because a final product is still an idea until I have customers."
Reflections on their virtual co-founder
"(my virtual co-founder) Zevae is the perfect guy to be accelerating education startups. He is passionate about education, has deep knowledge and insights in education, but also has the experience and knowledge about startups. His approach was perfect - understanding, kind and empathetic, yet forceful when necessary about the importance of various steps. He was able to respond to every question and concern I had. I looked forward to every call, and definitely agree that the co-founder relationship is more powerful than the mentor one."
Knowledge development: "Very significantly"
Skills: "Very significantly"
Mindsets: "Very significantly"
Overall recommendation (o unlikely, 10 extremely likely):
"10, definitely. I don't think I could communicate the importance of getting out of the building. I also don't think that I could offer the same accountability and insights. Also, given that Zevae has his own innovation canvas that works better than the business model canvas, I couldn't just point people to Steve Blank's online course or book."
Week 1: "Highs: new adventure, challenging and crystalising. Co.Creator has a laser beam focus, and will take no prisoners! Lows: challenge of finding high level participants for interviews feels overwhelming - BUT! will give it everything I can. The process learning materials, udacity etc look excellent, v curious about your adaptations to the BMC. Thanks for a fab first session :)"
"Great to go through the finer details of the program and see exactly what’s required of me. I love reading and learning new things so was very happy to see the amount of articles to be read and videos to watch. I like that I can now tie the learning directly to my idea (whereas my previous learning of the same kind has been towards a more general improvement in myself holistically). Coming up with the problem on the spot was a good challenge! Already I can see that my thoughts need to be more focused and sharp in order to successfully communicate my vision and solution. I look forward to coming up with a hard-hitting response to these questions.
Getting out of the building is a new concept, and one that will definitely push my comfort zone. This is because until now I’ve been highly passionate about my solution to the problems I see in education, but to get out and do something about it with real customers and advisors will be scary." The first diagram in this document of the startup curve made me feel great, as I fell straight into the ‘trough of sorrow’ after presenting my initial registration to the Tasmanian School Registration Board. It’s reassuring to know that this is normal, and that there is a way out!
Week 2: Already working on who to talk to! Will be a good challenge to start writing the scripts. Was good to hear the criticisms of the canvas, and they all make sense, especially the constraints point and the why point. Was interesting to hear about how this why is different to Sinek's (more focused on the solution). I really like Co.Creator's model having just looked at it, and am looking forward to seeing how it works once I start entering the strategic intents."
Week 3: This call clarified a few problems I had in understanding different aspects of the customer script, and it was great to workshop my draft script for Justin. It was also really good to get started on the innovation canvas and I look forward to completing that further. I was upset that I couldn't get out of the building before this call except for emailing follow up questions to Justin. It's good to be pushed like this to get out, so now I have to find lots of parents to talk to! Wow that went quickly! Time flies when fully occupied and having fun! I remember Zevae saying that this would be difficult, and you’re definitely right. I never imagined that I would be actually getting out there and speaking with people (something my introverted self would never have done). After this initial part of the program, however, I’m feeling much more comfortable asking for people’s advice and thoughts. Already I can see my networks increasing in value - a great by-product was being able to connect Maths Pathway with Tom Brunzell at Berry St. It was fantastic to be able to see the value of my calls and emails during the last call as we narrowed down the problem definitions. It truly shows why I needed to GOTB, and I can see my idea starting to gain much more clarity."
Week 4: "It feels great to be pushed this way. Before this program it was just me battling the fear in my brain, and to be honest, my brain was winning. Now I have awesome direction and meaning. To finally be working on the idea again is exhilarating, and a reminder of why I came up with it in the first place. All good at this stage. Was happy that I managed to call 4 parents despite a typhoon taking a day out of my work, although I had forgotten to show both value propositions to parents. I had forgotten the importance of it for getting parents to give more honest feedback. Was frustrating trying to call schools - called 10, no one was available to talk, emailed, no one replied. This market will be hard!"
Week 5: Good to hear that other people also struggle to get into schools, and good to get some ideas around how to connect. I was happy with the further narrowing down of the value propositions, and am excited about how they’re taking shape. Great to have the MVPs drawn up to see what this has come to so far, and keen to start the selling process (also apprehensive!) . Was disappointed with the response rate from schools this week, but will push even harder with the MVP one-pagers. Looking forward to the new readings too.
Week 6: "Website time! Very exciting. Was very exciting also to see the enthusiasm from the schools I spoke with, and to discuss the way forward with them. Interesting to start thinking about the week 6 cut-off, but I really want to pursue the parents solution first - I think going through schools is the only way I can get to parents, so will think about the newsletter options with that. Good call, covered everything efficiently. Annoyed that I forgot to publish latest changes before linking to draft website on Tuesday, but would probably have had the same issue of not seeing it from a customer's perspective. I need to practice my creativity too. Very grateful to have you helping me with the redesigns given your experience. Also very happy that I have a third customer on board. Unfortunately couldn't talk with my principal due to his meetings this week but looking forward to his call on Monday. Will think of how to get even further out of my comfort zone now and directly find parents for feedback!"
Week 7: "It was a tough week for me this week, with a lot of personal questioning, but I feel a lot better now - it was good spending the extra hour to work out the details, and to talk in more detail about my broader thoughts on entrepreneurialism in general. A lot to get done, and methods of moving forward, which is great."
Week 8: "Very exciting to see (Co.Creator created) websites - can’t wait to see how they’re received by customers. Really enjoyed the brainstorming for the foundation scholarship application. It was interesting to see the effect of missing one call - whilst it gave me breathing space the pressure certainly helps get more things done - makes me appreciate the power of accountability. I have noticed a massive increase in my confidence and ability to think on my feet - also have reduced my fear when making calls. Good discussions around the readings, I’m starting to get a better insight into the startup world. Lots of work to do this week, which is good. Hoping to have parents contact this week, and have my school give me their feedback. Looking forward to getting in touch with activity providers too, which will be very insightful. The idea of Kickstarter is an interesting one, and will help me get the idea in front of a lot more people, which will be great."
What would you change:
"Nothing. Perhaps more strongly emphasising how difficult and uncomfortable the program will be! It will be even better when there is software for the innovation canvas to be edited directly, though the Google Docs worked beautifully for our purposes."