How to Transform a Simple Idea into a Successful Digital Training Company: The Journey of with Jarosław Błąd

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  • Who: Jarosław Błąd
  • Website:
  • Course Topic: SQL
  • Interesting Stats: 600K of new users each month result in plus 4K sign-ups

Who are you and what digital training company have you created?

I am an engineer who likes what he does. Computers and databases are my life. Since the beginning of the ’90s, I have been working on creating many different business applications. When I discovered SQL, it was a real revelation for me. What used to take time and enormous resources to achieve could be obtained with just a few lines of code. I realized that this could make life easier for a vast range of specialists; that’s how the platform appeared. Now, we provide interactive online SQL courses all over the world for those who are interested in working with data.

What market does your digital training serve?

Our online courses cater to users of relational databases. This includes professionals who require SQL for data analysis and prepare sophisticated reports in their daily work, as well as individuals embarking on data-driven projects. SQL is not limited to data science alone; it also plays a crucial role in business development, marketing, sales, and finance. As a result, we offer tailored SQL training to entire companies and their respective departments.

Regarding demographics, the majority of our users fall within the 18-34 age range and reside in the USA, Canada, and the UK. Initially, we focused on an English-speaking audience, but we have since expanded our resources to provide courses in French, German, Spanish, Italian, and Brazilian Portuguese.

Jarosław Błąd's site

What’s the biggest benefit of taking your online courses?

Hands-on experience in working with real databases is crucial. Learning SQL commands may not be an issue, but using them in a real-world environment can be challenging. At, we place a strong emphasis on practice – each of our courses contains real database examples and a built-in coding editor. Users can create SQL queries online, see the outcomes, analyze the code, and find and correct mistakes. Moreover, users can complete the courses at their own pace and choose the topics they want to study.

How did you get into the market? grew from our Vertabelo database modeler, the tool for database professionals. But getting to the platform was quite complicated. The original idea was to make SQL courses available for free as an idea to promote our modeler. This is how the Vertabelo Academy was created, and our SQL courses quickly gained great popularity.

Unfortunately, from the point of view of promoting the modeler, this initiative did not bring benefits. It turned out that a completely different group of recipients than the modeler is interested in SQL courses. We then faced the dilemma of what to do with a great product, which, however, does not bring benefits. We decided to check whether users would be willing to pay for SQL courses.

The idea caught fire and in this way the Vertabelo Academy became a separate product, which over time was expanded with an offer of courses in broadly understood data analysis (Python, R, statistics, data visualization). Simultaneously, we were expanding our SQL paths.

We were constantly observing and analyzing the e-learning market and talking with platform users about their needs and motivations. They wanted to learn SQL or its dialects like MS SQL Server, MySQL or PostgreSQL. As SQL’s course base grew enormously, in 2020 we decided to launch as a separate vertical platform focused only on SQL.

Why did you decide to create a digital training company?

Two main things were decisive. First of all, everyone on the initial Vertabelo team is very fond of learning and teaching others.

And secondly, the initial success of the Vertabelo Academy made us realize that we are able to reach a much larger group of recipients than in the case of a modeler. And this is to reach with services in the field in which we know very well.

Did you have any moments of doubt before you launched your training company?

There was a moment when we realized that launching a separate platform might require more effort and attention than our main product – Vertabelo Data Modeler. We were convinced that training would be in demand (because the pilot version of courses on Vertabelo Academy had already been successful), but the restricting factor was our capacity in terms of time and human resources.

As they say, if you want to go fast, go alone; but if you want to go further, go together. Therefore, we decided to invest in a professional content team to cope with the new tasks, and I can confidently confirm that it paid off. -… Click To Tweet

Jarosław Błąd's site

If so what made you turn it around and do it anyway?

Attitude helps. was not a lifeboat; it was a bold experiment, a new project corresponding to our users’ needs. We didn’t expect anything supernatural from this dark horse, but we believed in it deeply because we actually used SQL – the language we are promoting – ourselves. On the one hand, it was risky; from another perspective, it was a diversification of risks. Having another product that, in case of success, could become an independent source of income, ensures a stable business. And it worked out.

What are your online courses like?

Our online courses are designed in the form of interactive, hands-on tasks. Users can complete them at their own pace, as the courses consist of several blocks dedicated to specific topics. Each SQL command or tool is accompanied by short and clear explanations, along with examples of code. Afterward, users are given analogous tasks to complete on their own.

Each course includes a tailored database and a code editor, enabling users to see the results of their typed SQL queries immediately, even if the solution is not correct. This approach helps users recognize patterns in the code and understand the structure of SQL better.

Moreover, one of the most valuable features of our courses is the provision of hints. When a user enters incorrect code, they receive a hint explaining the nature of the mistake (e.g., syntax error, incorrect number of columns) and the location of the error. Additionally, users have the option to view the correct answer and compare it to their own code.

How long does it take you or your team to create a new course?

Usually, the whole process of creation takes around two months. The courses are created in a dedicated team with a strong leader who is responsible for developing the course structure and ensuring didactic and substantive correctness. Then, the core content of the course is created. After that, the course is preloaded on the platform and thoroughly tested from the user’s perspective. We also use external experts and editors to make the course content even better. Another aspect is the choice of the topic of a particular course. Here we work in a wider team and take into account both our expert experience as well as market insight and feedback from users.

Each track should align with our classic structure, which includes a specific number of tasks necessary to cover the topics inside the course blocks. We believe we have found our golden standard of course structure, and we strive to maintain it. The courses may differ in the amount and content of tasks, but everything else remains the same to ensure a comfortable flow for users. Many of them complete more than one course, and we endeavor to make their learning experience as smooth and enjoyable as possible.

Tell us a little about the process of launching your first course and getting your first enrollment(s).

Launching our first course, which was “SQL Basics” was quite easy because it was a free course. Free access together with high quality gave us amazing traction. Completely different thing was launching as a separate platform.   The main challenge was to make a smooth transition to the new platform, enhancing the course with a new design and website environment while retaining traffic from Vertabelo Academy.

We informed our users about the move through emails, activated pop-ups on the Vertabelo website, and utilized Google Ads for user acquisition. Of course, we had to overcome common issues, such as page indexing and organic growth. We put significant effort into developing our blog and filling it with informational articles.

I must say that our SEO efforts were precisely what boosted the platform. As we started to appear confidently in search results, traffic converted into desirable enrollments. - Jarosław Błąd Click To Tweet

Jarosław Błąd's site

Do you have a lead magnet?

We’ve tried many things, and some of them have proven to be very successful. One of the most significant features is a free trial: all the courses on the platform offer a free section for users to explore the interface, see the structure, and try out the tasks. Personally, I believe that a business that truly trusts in the quality of its product has no reason to be afraid of sharing free content. Free content is not a revenue loss; it serves as obvious proof for users that the paid product is worth its cost. Spreading high-quality free content allows us to gain authority in the market.

For, one of the successful free offerings is the SQL Cheat Sheets – PDFs with concise hints for commands. On one hand, they are convenient to have at hand for quickly refreshing specific commands. On the other hand, they are not sufficient for those who have no knowledge of SQL and cannot replace paid courses and practical training. These Cheat Sheets have rapidly spread through social media since we initiated the process, and people continue to share them. Additionally, we have a large library of so-called Cookbooks – articles that answer particular “How to do” questions – and they have a positive impact on SEO.

This fall, we’re launching the new project – SQL Assessment. The idea was brewing for a few years, but now we are ready to release it. We hope that the possibility to evaluate current SQL proficiency will become a real boost for our students’ future careers. We are ready to welcome new users at!

What’s the traffic strategy that works best for you?

Absolute booster for our business is high quality content and all SEO activities we do around this content. I guess, it still proves its value for the promotion of educational business and is not going to lose the position even after AI chats will conquer the web search. Those who can answer the questions of an audience win the market of learning services. SEO is about producing these answers efficiently. Organic traffic is the major one for us. SQL is connected to career and studying rather than leisure, so we reach our audience through LinkedIn.

Growth of the expert SQL community is one of our current goals.

And actually, loyal LinkedIn users bring significant traffic to the platform. From our experience, people are eager to sign up for LinkedIn newsletters even more than just following the company page. - Jarosław Błąd Click To Tweet

From our experience, affiliation is one of the most efficient forms of collaboration, as it is based not only on mutual financial benefit but also on brand loyalty. Bloggers are unlikely to advertise something that could jeopardize their reputation and expertise among their audience. To introduce the new multilanguage platforms (,,,, to the local markets we use Google Ads. Search campaigns still can enhance visibility in search terms, and that’s exactly what’s needed for young platforms.

What online course platform are you using?

We don’t rely on external course platforms as a main selling point, but we do collaborate with some marketplaces like and That’s mainly because of the platforms’ local restrictions in content representation. It can’t guarantee the same user flow as we achieve by selling on our own special designed and developed platform. Moreover, it’s another step on the sales funnel, which the user has to complete, and often quite consuming.

Do you like it?

We are absolutely satisfied with the results of collaboration, and the best thing about it is that maintenance and updates are on the side of the marketplace itself.

Are there any features you wish it had?

We make efforts to simplify the formalities of partnership and primarily collaborate through our Affiliate program. However, some excellent platforms may not be feasible to partner with due to their large scale and limited flexibility in legal and payment aspects. If it would be easier, we would certainly explore such possibilities more closely.

What made you decide to use your chosen platform over others?

Simplicity in formal aspects.

What other tools do you use to run your digital training business?

We use popular tools that help us in everyday matters, both in analysis (GA4) and SEO (SEMRush).

Jarosław Błąd's site

What books or training programs have you found useful on your journey to a successful business owner that others might find valuable too?

I’m quite addicted to learning. I usually read two or three books at once. At least one or two will be about professional issues. Recently, I’ve been reading books on marketing. The latest are Hacking Growth by Morgan Brown and Sean Ellis and The New Rules of Marketing and PR by David Scott. I read and then try to adapt some concepts for the company.

My favorite business book is From Good to Great by Jim Collins. Every time I read it, I find something new. I also like to read interviews with the world’s best entrepreneurs and try to follow their blogs. Unfortunately, my favorite blogger, Stack Overflow founder Joel Spolsky, practically stopped posting a few years ago. I learned a lot from him about engineering, management and building a company. Most of his articles are still valid and worth reading.

Do you have any big mistakes you’ve made along the way that you’d be willing to share?

Over the last few years, we have fortunately managed to avoid critical errors, but we have a lot of small mistakes behind us.

Most often they resulted, especially at the very beginning, from not fully understanding the needs of our clients. An example can be some of the platform’s functionalities, which consumed a lot of resources and required a lot of work and effort from us. Customers did not always take full advantage of them.

I firmly believe that there’s no such thing as a bad try; each attempt adds to our experience and eventually contributes to our success. For example, if I find that a particular tool or approach is not effective, I never regret giving it a chance. I view it as another piece of knowledge: discovering what doesn’t work for us is a step towards finding what truly does work.

Please share some idea of revenue for your digital training company.

The revenue is good and definitely inspiring, encouraging us to invest further in the development of the company. This year, we’ve successfully launched 5 new multi-language platforms, and they are rapidly gaining popularity. We anticipate a significant increase in additional revenue from these platforms by the end of the year. Moreover, I can state that has shown promising results for a 3-year start-up with less than 20 employees at the beginning.

Please tell us a little about what the money you’ve earned from running your digital training company has done for you.

Speaking from a personal perspective, the business has allowed me to fulfill one of my long-held dreams: running my small fruit farm. Caring for 2,000 trees entails a lot of physical work and time, but it brings me immense pleasure. What’s even more rewarding is that owning an e-learning business grants me the time and flexibility to focus on something truly significant, even eternal: spending quality time with my family, exploring new places through travel, and appreciating the beauty of nature.

In addition to revenue are there any numbers you would like to share?

Not everything comes at once, but persistent work brings results: for example, we've grown our community on LinkedIn 10 times since last year, and we gain a thousand subscribers to the LinkedIn newsletter each month. - Jarosław Błąd Click To Tweet

We’re very glad that our educational content resonates with the interests of the audience; it allows us to grow organically. 600K of new users each month result in plus 4K sign-ups. We constantly work on the quality of the user’s path through the sales funnel: personalized promotions, helpful free educational materials, gifts, content improvements. That helps us increase the conversion rate. We work in two directions: increasing traffic itself and enhancing the percentage of purchasers.

What has creating your digital training business done for you personally?

In the context of and the other services we offer, the most important thing for me is receiving positive feedback from users. When they are happy with our services, it fulfills everything an ordinary engineer could desire. Additionally, I am extremely proud of our team. It’s amazing to see how we have grown from a group of enthusiasts to a company with nearly 20 talented individuals on board. We now have our own comfortable office, but we have managed to retain the flexibility of a startup and the benefits of remote work whenever needed.

What advice do you have for people just starting out?

Remember, there are no simple walkthroughs.

There are no magic shortcuts. Of course, there are general rules, but reality changes too quickly to stick to them. - Jarosław Błąd Click To Tweet

Do you want to succeed? Read, learn, and work hard. You will achieve everything!

Learn more about Jarosław Błąd of

Lisa Parmley
Lisa Parmley

Lisa Parmley is the founder of After gaining a Master's degree, she worked in research for about seven years. She started a training company in 2001, offering a course helping people pass a professional exam. That course has earned multiple 7 figures. She created SEO and authority site building training around 2007 which went on to earn well into the 6-figure mark.

She has 22+ years of experience in the trenches creating and selling online courses. Get help starting and growing your online course business here.

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