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Why Francie Jain Started Terawatt
- Who: Francie Jain
- Website: goterawatt.com
- Course Topic: Career Coaching
- Interesting Stats: 700 email subscribers
Who are you and what digital training company have you created?
I’m the Founder of Terawatt, an online marketplace making it easier and more affordable to access great career coaches. Terawatt is my second for-profit entrepreneurial venture. Previously, I founded a consultancy that raised institutional capital for emerging market-based hedge funds. Since graduating from college, I’ve changed careers three times, and it turns out I am one of the few people undaunted by a career change. This is the epiphany that started Terawatt.
When I first graduated from Princeton University at the age of 22, I was looking for a career to combine commerce and art, building on my two majors, Political Science, and Visual Arts. After working in fashion for a few years, I wanted to go deeper into analytics and strategy, and I worked in Real Estate Finance. I went to business school to understand finance and economics better and discovered that I am an extrovert. Understanding more of my motivations, thanks to the Meyers Briggs test I took at business school, I found my ideal job combining analysis and communication in a career in investor relations and marketing for hedge funds, a niche role within finance.
I loved this job. The only problem was that I didn’t have much control over what I was marketing/selling. I started to get interested in being involved in the product also. So much of sales is being a believer in a product, and what better way to believe in a product than to be a part of its design?
I left finance to create Terawatt because I felt there should be an affordable and easy way to improve one’s skills and change one’s career. I wanted to help ambitious people get better at their jobs and also help people in need of a change and find great strategic advice.
It is interesting because we can help people on their own and many companies support employee career development. So, we try to work with both businesses and individuals.
In addition, Terawatt is a great resource for professional career coaches. We help them connect to clients all over the world. Some of the Terawatt customers go on to do more in-depth coaching, and others feel that group workshops are exactly what they need. This is a benefit to coaches because it makes it easier to find people looking for them.
What market does your digital training serve?
Wikipedia defines career coaching as a type of advice-giving and support provided by career counselors to their clients, to help the clients manage their journey through life, learning, and work changes.
We are looking to make hiring a career or life coach easier in the U.S. and around the world. We are currently recruiting U.S. based coaches, but because our product is a virtual group meeting, anyone can join from anywhere.
There are 20,000 coaches in the U.S. and 50,000 coaches in the world. What is fascinating is that 85% of coaches find new clients via word of mouth. With the addition of Yelp, Google, etc., we see a lot of opportunities to help make it a smaller world.
What’s the biggest benefit of taking your online courses?
Professionals: Save on time, money, and searching. Plus, group discussions have long been considered an excellent way to learn.
Why did you decide to create a digital training company?
Initially, I started Terawatt as a community that would help people return to work. I found a lot of interesting data on three key groups that needed a career change and/or re-entry: military, manufacturing, and stay-at-home moms. As I was working on providing a community-based decision, I wanted to add career coaching to help people working through problems or finding the right fit. So, I started to think about the easiest, most affordable way to give moms access to career coaches: Online and in the group.
I pitched this idea to a career coach I knew, and she immediately agreed to do it. After this, I realized that coaches also need help finding clients and the business could be an online marketplace. Connecting people could be the entire business. This worked really well for me because that is one of my strengths. In finance, that was my job: finding the right match and educating people on an offering.
Even if the business model changed, I realized it would still be addressing the same mission to make it easier to grow and change.
Did you have any moments of doubt before you launched your training company?
Yes, all the time. But, one of my company’s values is, “All included, no barrier or exclusions.” To me, this means that I can learn on the job and make mistakes as I work for a better future for all of us. Also, because I was using the money I had earned in other businesses, I felt that I had the freedom to make mistakes and that this was a form of giving back to the community.
If so what made you turn it around and do it anyway?
One of my key touchstones, “I decided to be brave.” When thinking about life, what is 100% certain? The best we can do is work to affect the outcome. So that is what I’m doing.
FYI, the above quote comes from a children’s book, “Surfer Chick.”
What are your online courses like?
The online courses consist of the following:
- Workshop = Group
- Guided by vetted expert
- 1-2 hours. Sometimes in a series or with a 1:1 component
How long does it take you or your team to create a new course?
All course content is owned by the coaches. They each have specialties that they teach, and the courses are all owned by them. We are helping them assemble a group and find clients. While the content is theirs, we care a lot about making learning work and being the easiest way to retain it. Coaches may create the course quickly if they have been teaching this content remotely before. However, a presentation of 10-20 slides could take several hours if one is synthesizing their teachings.
Tell us a little about the process of launching your first course and getting your first enrollment(s).
I first did a test of free classes over several weeks in the summer of 2018. I also advertised on Facebook. Most classes reached capacity, and one student who took a free class ended up hiring that career coach for 1:1 coaching. I felt that proved my thesis, so everything I’ve done since then has been supporting that result.
Do you have a lead magnet?
Yes, we are currently doing that now! For me, seeing and experiencing is everything. I love freemium businesses like Dropbox and Zoom. I believe that when you try something and it works for you, it is easy to decide to pay for a more sophisticated offering.
We’re going to offer many free classes the week after Thanksgiving. Our tagline is “Invest in Yourself” instead of buying electronics on Cyber Monday. In addition, we will be giving thanks for all of the helpers in our lives, like career coaches.
What’s the traffic strategy that works best for you?
The traffic strategy that works best is SEO, including high-authority links to a website; branding to an unusual name, i.e. Terawatt; high quality, original content creation; and helpful and positive social media posts.
What online course platform are you using?
We designed it ourselves and we like it!
Are there any features you wish it had?
Not at the moment.
What made you decide to use your chosen platform over others?
I was hoping to use already-created marketplace software. But since I had to make a lot of tweaks, I decided to start fresh and make my own.
What other tools do you use to run your digital training business?
I use the following tools:
- Google Analytics
- Slack for casual discussions and for keeping people in the loop on ongoing projects
- Zoom API. We use Zoom both for our product, live video workshops, but also to connect in a large group. Easier to have a big discussion.
- UpWork for hiring short-term contractors who have a specific skill
- Email when I need to communicate to a lot of people or even one person, especially when I want to keep a record of the request and the date.
- Google Docs and Sheets for sharing work and being able to edit it after sharing. Huge time savings.
- Mailchimp for email distribution
What books or training programs have you found useful on your journey to a successful business owner that others might find valuable too?
- Eric Reis, “Lean Start-up” Process of the experiment, collect data and refine
- Barbara Sher, “Wishcraft”
Do you have any big mistakes you’ve made along the way that you’d be willing to share?My biggest mistake is thinking that word of mouth for hires would be a short cut. - Francie Jain Click To Tweet
It turns out that just because a person connected in one setting, does not mean that person will connect in every setting. I have found that there are no shortcuts to hiring. You just have to go through the process.
Please share some idea of revenue for your digital training company.
We are just getting up to speed on revenue. We will revenue by partnering with employers and ERGs (Employee Resource Groups).
The biggest accomplishment is that when you type in “Terawatt” to Google Chrome search, our company is listed on the first page. This is a big accomplishment for me. In order to be on the first page, you must demonstrate “high authority” on the internet.
Please tell us a little about what the money you’ve earned from running your digital training company has done for you.
It has given me a sense that starting from scratch is possible if you can be patient.Because I am focused on the mission, it is easy to feel proud because I see each small victory as a step in the right direction. - Francie Jain Click To Tweet
For me, revenue is the final result of all of the business building I am doing now. I want to make sure that everything works, both processes, and technology when we reach big audiences.
I am a huge believer in MVP, as Eric Reis discusses in “Lean Start-up” (mentioned above), but I believe that an online experience is important as well as the customer service experience. For me, the revenue is part of the proof that those two items are working well.
In addition to revenue are there any numbers you would like to share?
- Mailchimp 700 subscribers
- Instagram 1,600
- Chrome 1st page (as mentioned above)
What has creating your digital training business done for you personally?
It has almost become another child. I feel incredibly dedicated to making sure it succeeds. Just like having a child, twists and turns are nothing more than finding what works. Patience is often the best way to create success.
What advice do you have for people just starting out?
I would recommend finding a few people who have done something similar to speak to. You need support. However, don’t look for validation of your idea from anyone else. It is terribly easy to be a pessimist or find a concerned friend or family member who wants to know when you will call it quits. Instead, look for someone who can be pragmatic and optimistic.