Sphere – IT Proficiency Upgrade


The post was originally published in Russian on Startup of the Day. Alexander kindly agreed to republish what we think is of great value to our readers.

Considering the variety of business models around essentially the same service, the champion must be food delivery. But the second place belongs to online education. Very similar video lessons can be sold in a variety of ways. And Sphere, the American startup of the day, came up with another one.

Its product is serious video courses on applicable topics. The startup doesn’t claim to teach a new profession but promises something in the line of proficiency upgrade. Typical examples of programs are ‘Managing Projects in Machine Learning’ or ‘A/B testing.’ As of now, most materials revolve around data processing and artificial intelligence, but it seems like it’s only the first direction, the startup has no intention of stopping there.

The courses include several online webinars and feedback on home assignments. The host is a top-tier professional but not a full-on rockstar yet. Often, these are VPs of big companies like Quora or Pinterest, but remember that each of those has dozens if not hundreds of VPs.

But this isn’t the magic, such content exists on a variety of platforms. Sphere’s unique feature is its promotion mechanics. Its innovation is to advertise itself to the end client, the future listener, and convince them that everything will be free. ‘Jack, we make awesome courses, it will be very useful for you to listen through one of those. Write to your HR this instant, they surely have the budget for education, we fit the expenses in this category ideally in terms of all the papers, here are all the instructions on how to get it done.’ As a result, the corporation pays for everything – and this is good, and there is no need to sell anything to it with the regular long decision-making cycle – and this is also good.

Whether the approach will work – hard to tell at the moment. The startup is at a very early stage, it brought in its first USD 4M of investment only this August. But it did go through Y Combinator already.



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