ConsciousEd is a university for life skills: social skills, mindfulness, entrepreneurship. Skills that you don’t learn in school. We’re working on an open source curriculum. So similar to Wikipedia, where we will encourage the best minds in the world to create the curriculum collaboratively. After we’ve created an online movement, we will organize offline community run study groups, and ultimately aim to be an alternative to university.
Before starting ConsciousEd, I asked myself “what is the biggest problem in the world?” For me it’s education. Because education is the lever that moves all other levers. If you give someone the right skills and mindset, there’s no limit to what they could achieve. They could be the next Bill Gates or Elon Musk.
University does not teach you all the skills that you need for life. The schools of learning at university are focused around subjects like science, arts, engineering and economics. Yet the most important skills in life might be; social skills, emotional intelligence, money management, and entrepreneurship.
But you can learn all this on the internet. There are world leaders and billionaires who have distilled the best of their life wisdom and principles of success into books. Books that we can buy for $10 online. Self education is the solution. But most people don’t bother with self education because:
The best ideas are in hard to consume mediums. It’s a lot of effort for people to read a whole book, or do an online course. It’s much easier to watch TV or read the news, however the easy to consume mediums are filled with mind numbing crap that doesn’t teach us anything.
Most people don’t know where to start learning. There’s too much information on the internet. Most of it is crap. Useful information is scattered far and wide. There are no guidelines for self learning, unlike in university where you have a syllabus.
There is no peer group to learn together with. It takes a lot more discipline to learn by yourself because there is no accountability, no support, no one to bounce ideas off and learn from.
Stage 1: A simple blog
Currently we’re writing a blog that puts the best ideas into the most entertaining form. We’re reading 100s of books. Summarizing the best nuggets wisdom from world leaders and billionaires. And repackaging it as entertaining articles, complete with personal stories, stupid jokes, and stick figure cartoons. There’s too much generic advice out there like “be yourself” or “meditate daily”, or “hire people smarter than you”. There’s not enough stories on how the advice was applied. E.g My journey on discovering what my values are. Or the challenges I faced trying to keep a meditation habit. Or how exactly did I go about hiring a team for my business. Our blog’s focus is on stories – on how.
We aim to hit 1m readers by month 6, using SEO and influencer marketing. We have the email addresses of 70% of all bloggers and influencers in the world via Contactout.com’s database, which we will use for custom audience ad targeting. We’ve had experience growing Contactout and Dealsextra to over 1m visitors per month via SEO. Canva’s blog got to 1m readers in 6 months from 0 – we’re going to use a similar strategy.
Stage 2: Open source curriculum for life
We’re going to invite the best minds in the world to help us create a 3 year course for life skills. It’ll be created collaboratively, similar to Wikipedia. The curriculum will summarize the best nuggets of wisdom across all areas of life, and then link out to books and resources for further study. We will encourage people to contribute by making our Why clear and strong. Education is the biggest problem in the world, and we’re starting a movement to solve it. We’ll be set up as a social enterprise with a large portion of our profits reinvested into educating the world. We’ll also give prominent author credit. So curriculum writers will be motivated by building their personal brands.
Stage 3: Social network for learning
We will create a social network for learning. When users start a course on our website, there will be a chat box at the bottom corner of the screen, just like the chat box on Facebook, which will list everyone who is in the same course. Users will be encourage to say hello, find a study partner, set study dates, do group assignments and stay accountable to each other. We’ll do this through gamification, offering points and rewards for interactions. There will be classes via video conference that will start as soon as 8 people register. These classes will be student driven. Students will teach each other by presenting for 5min something they’ve learnt on the topic, talking about challenges they’re facing. Followed by group discussion, and setting learning goals for next week. We can hire course graduates to come back and lead these classes. We will look to monetize these classes but only in affluent countries on a donation basis.
Stage 4: Community run study groups
We will organize offline community run study groups and classes. This might sound crazy but, we plan to spread in the same way that religion spreads. Religion works because there is an overarching theory that is so central to people’s sense of meaning and purpose, that people are moved to form communities, donate their time, and bring their friends and family on board. By making an insanely great course about life we touch upon some of the same deep motivations that will create a movement and inspire communities to self organize.
In modern society, places of worship are one of the few places where people strangers can come together to talk about life, get help with their problems and share their life experience. We want to create a similar environment where people can openly share and be vulnerable, but the focus will be solely on learning and self improvement. There will be no religious dogma. People from all walks of life will be welcome.
End Goal: An open source, community organised, alternative to university.
Rob Liu – 500 Startups and Startmate Alumni. Founder Contactout.com, email search engine, $2m+ revenue run rate. Founder Dealsextra.com.au, $300k / year profit coupon site.
Ari Yeganeh – Data scientist and AI expert, worked for Ebay and Quantium. Built $2m+ property portfolio at age 25.
Ari and I have known each other since high school. We’ve spent countless hours ranting to each other about how education is broken. And now we’re both turning away from making millions in other ventures to focus on what we’re most passionate about – fixing education.
We think education is one of the few problems truly worth a trillion dollars. We plan to raise $1bn to solve it. For Stage 1 (blog), we’re planning to self fund with a team of 6, though, we may be open to seed capital from the right investors. For stage 2 (open source curriculum) we plan to raise $3m+. Stage 3 (social network for learning) raise $30m+, stage 4 (community study groups) raise $100m+, end goal (open source university) raise $500m+
Thoughts and feedback on the business plan
Advice on fundraising. How do structure the company so we can make the most of grant money and non-profit donations as well as raising venture capital? We won’t make significant revenues until stage 3. How do we go about pitching for large capital raises with no revenues?
Thoughts and feedback on initial first blog post about life purpose: conscioused.org/purpose
Introductions to people in edtech, authors, bloggers and influencers in personal development