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How Does Udemy Work: The Billion-Dollar Business Model of Edu-Tech Industry Revealed

8583 Views | 7 min | Published On: June 3, 2020 Last Updated: August 25, 2022
how does udemy works

How Does Udemy Work? What is Udemy’s Business Model? Let’s find out.

Education is a thing that has remained unchanged for hundreds of years – its importance is inevitable and none can live a successful life without it. But, many can’t afford good education because of so many reasons – may it be lack of funds or time.

So, what if a business provides good education at a reasonable cost and that too as per the convenience of people who want to study? It will be a win-win situation, no? 

That’s what Edutech is all about. Gone are the days when education was limited to brick and mortar stores and learning to books and just books. The present era belongs to apps like Udemy, Coursera, Udacity and many more.

All these names are responsible for the transition of education from brick and mortar schools to digital. 

The benefits these platforms provide aren’t limited to connecting students and instructors from all over the world for better learning opportunities, rather, because of these apps, Edutech has become such a large industry that today consuming education is not impossible for anyone.

But, how do these platforms work? The question remains unanswered in the minds of many who are impressed by the potentials of the Edu-Tech industry. That’s why, in this blog, we will find answers to all such questions by putting the spotlight on the business model of one of the most renowned Edu-Tech platforms in the world – Udemy.

So, let’s get started with Udemy Business Model.

Udemy Stats and Facts: Funding and Major Milestones

  • Founded/launched: Feb 1, 2010
  • Headquarters: San Francisco
  • Founders: Eren Bali, Gagan Biyani, Oktay Caglar
  • Total Funding Amount: $223M
  • Valuation at IPO: More than $2B
  • Number of Investors: 20
  • Udemy Business Model Type: Marketplace Business Model
edutech apps

The Inspiring Success Story Behind Udemy

Udemy is a platform that was rejected more than 30 times by investors before giving a substantial amount of funding. But, because of Eren Bali’s hard work and strong inspiration behind Udemy – the platform became the best online marketplace for learning with over $223 million in funding.

Eren Bali’s inspiration to develop a platform like Udemy came from his adolescence. He pursued all his education in a schoolhouse with the help of a computer having access to the Internet. Using just these two resources, Bali learned Maths and ended up winning a national gold medal for the same.

In the year 2007, Bali was working as a web developer when he thought about his good old school days and the power of the internet to provide education – particularly for those who lack funds or have limited time. 

To satisfy his quench of doing something out-of-the-box, he created software for a virtual classroom. Bali intended to make it freely available for those in need. After a few days, he moved to Silicon Valley and started a company for his product with his friends – Gagan Biyani and Oktay Caglar.

In the year 2010, three of them tried to raise funding for the website created. However, they failed to do the same number of times. The trio responded by launching Udemy publicly in the month of May 2010 by using their own resources. Their website offered Free as well as Paid courses taught by experts.

Just after a few months, Udemy was a great success with around 2000 courses offered by 1,000 instructors and around 10,000 registered users. This induced a new layer of confidence in the trio and they attempted another round of funding and this time the results were different. The trio raised $1 Million in the month of august as the seed funding.

This was followed by other successful rounds of investment over a couple of years. Bali had at long last accomplished his fantasy about democratizing education and today the platform is loved by millions of people.  Now that we know what inspiration was behind Udemy – let’s find all about the business model that the platform follows and makes money.

Also Read: How to Pitch Your App to Investors in 3 Simple Steps and Get Funded

How Does Udemy Work: Udemy Business Model Revealed

Udemy is an Online Platform for encouraging the process of educating and learning online. It uses content from instructors to earn profits and focuses on targeting professional adults who wish to add more skills to their resumes. 

The platform works utilizing a marketplace business model and acts as a bridge between teachers and students where they can meet to exchange knowledge. The firm just acts as a mediator and doesn’t own any product. Just like Uber – the biggest ride-hailing platform – doesn’t own any taxi.

Henceforth, the prices of courses provided are controlled by the instructors themselves, while Udemy just charges a commission for giving instructors an easy to use platform and a huge audience to sell their services. Its business model is much similar to that of Amazon and eBay which acts as a bridge between buyers and sellers.

Let’s find more about how it operates using Udemy Business Model Canvas:

udemy business model

1) As shown in the above Udemy Business Model Canvas, the company’s sole mission is to help anyone learn anything. It is a platform for helping keen learners accomplish their dreams by acing new skills utilizing an extensive library of 65000+ courses taught by 42000+ expert instructors on Udemy’s website and mobile apps.

2) Students can register on the platform very easily. They just need to create an account just like they do over Facebook, select their interest and they are all set to browse through millions of courses available. The platform Udemy provides is so easy to use that students of every age group find it interesting.

3) Udemy’s biggest value proposition for students lies in providing them the Convenience they desire. Using Udemy, the students get the freedom to select what they want to study and how fast. A user can register for a course whenever he/she wants and too at affordable prices. 

4) Another way using which Udemy provides value to its students is by giving them access to immense content to learn from with the help of experts from all around the globe. It has courses listed on its platform related to various subjects ranging from business to arts which lets students learn whatever they want in more than 80 languages.

5) The other crucial part to consider while finding an answer to How Does Udemy Work is the instructors to which Udemy gives brilliant customization by letting them customize the programs they create using cutting-edge course design tools for free. The entire expense of maintaining and improving these tools is on Udemy.

6) Udemy also provides marketing insights to instructors to help them decide what courses they should offer. These insights include which courses are most in-demand, which gaps they need to fill and what problems users are facing with most of them.

7) Udemy also has a solution called “Udemy for Business”, a service for providing business-related courses that is used by several companies for the overall skill development of their employees, including Pinterest, IBM and T-Mobile. 

So that was all about How Does Udemy Work and provide value to both of its stakeholders – Students and Instructors. Let’s now find How Does Udemy Make Money and Profits using this amazing business model.

How Does Udemy Make Money: Udemy Revenue Model Revealed

Udemy provides two types of courses over its website – free and paid. Using a wide range of free courses on its portal which are short and precise – it creates value and boosts word of mouth marketing. However, with paid courses, it generates revenue.

Its principle revenue stream is the fee it charges students and instructors for hosting courses which are applied as follows: 

  • The platform earns 50% of the total fee if it promotes the course taken by the student. The remaining 50% goes to the instructor. However, if an instructor markets the course himself – he will get its 100% fee and don’t have to pay anything to Udemy.
  • The platform earns 25% of the fee if it promotes the course and the student comes through the affiliate link. Out of the remaining fee – 50% goes to affiliate and 25% to the instructor.

Another source of revenue for Udemy is its B2B solution called “Udemy for Business” for large organizations that need to address their greatest human resource challenges like training and skill development. It offers two plans for every company named as Team Plan and Enterprise plan. 

Here’s how these plan work: 

Team Plan: This plan is for organizations with 5-20 employees and a yearly membership is required to choose this plan. It costs $240 per user and has a base requirement of at least five users. So, it will cost you a minimum of $1200. 

Enterprise Plan: It is intended for organizations with more than 20 users. When a business enrolls in this Plan, Udemy assigns it a Dedicated Customer Service Partner. However, it’s unclear precisely how much you will have to pay for this plan. This is likely because Udemy works with the companies to close a deal that works for both. 

These plans also have a 14-day Free Trial so that companies can see it works for them or not. Now that you know all about this brand – How Does Udemy Work, its business model, revenue model and the story behind its success – let’s see what you can learn from this brand to establish your own in the Edu-Tech Industry.

Also Read: How Do Apps Make Money? Mobile App Monetization Models Revealed

3 Lessons You Should Learn From Eren Bali Before Stepping Into The Edu-Tech Industry

1. Network is Very Crucial For Entrepreneurs

As explained above, raising funds was not easy at all for Bali and his teammates despite having an amazing idea. So, if you are planning to start a venture – it is nothing good than starting to make your network so that you don’t face problems like Udemy in securing a substantial amount of funding. 

In the business ecosystem, network and presence with strength are valuable approaches to help you with building solid relations and an incredible venture. 

2. Get to Know Your User

When thinking of e-learning it’s easy to restrict yourself just to schools. Obviously, it’s the basics of EdTech development but it’s really a wide industry.

Research shows that 77% of organizations in the USA utilized e-learning platforms in 2017 for skill development of their employees. It is mentioned here because becoming more acquainted with your users is one of the urgent strides to take at the start of product development. It is never a good idea to not know about where you can find your users.

EduTech Apps Apptunix

3. Your Idea Should Be Good And Controversial

Here is what Eren said in one of his interviews:

Udemy Revenue Model

And, we couldn’t agree more. Getting the acquisition offers is not a bad thing. But, if you dream of a successful venture your competitors should not fear you at the very early stage. Else, your startup is likely to make a small exit to a big company.

Wrapping Up

That was all about How Does Udemy Work and Make Money. In the Edutech market, it is a fascinating and evolving concept that centers around the exchange of information, as opposed to getting a degree or diploma. If you are too planning to step-into the Edu-tech world – there is no better time than now. With the world following the principles of social distancing, apps like Udemy are gaining traction day by day. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s get started today!

Udemy Edutech apps

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