NOW Digital Academy has launched, the founders got excited, then the work began. Reality set in and boy were we surprised.
When we launched NOW, we didn’t know what to expect. We are offering free education, without lecturers or lectures, based on a new mode of teaching. We needed to create digital businesses that students can run and scale, and we had to make it all sustainable. We knew it was possible but it all depended on the quality of our students. We were also put to the test. If the students didn’t learn, and therefore add value to the business, than we wouldn’t make money! Quality of our coaching was everything.
We started off by creating a lot of structures based on assumptions, and frankly most were very wrong!
The reality is that the quality of our students surpassed our expectations. They were hungry. True, on day one, they were shy. They took notes. They spoke quietly between them. Five days later they challenged the business models we presented and fought for leadership roles of key functions within the business.
Two months later, and where are we? In the first few days, we gave our students a business model in one single line – “a fashion marketplace that promotes international micro fashion designers”. We know there are many of them, we said, so let us differentiate.
The students worked on this for a few weeks, speaking to micro designers, trying to go deeper in understanding the designers stories and ambitions. What were their challenges? What do they need? They discovered how designers are misunderstood, how they want to focus on the creative, how many want to help and be part of something greater than just there brand. They discovered how micro-designers and tech startups are very similar in that they both needed a community to support and engage with them. They learnt that the fashion world is tough and though many designers have egos (like any other industry I guess), a lot of them were fantastic human beings.
This is when rock and olive was born. They started working on the marketplace to support micro fashion designers that embraced the community concept and believed in collaboration beats competition. They added gamification concepts, challenged how the community communicates, discussed community evangelisation, and how to make ecommerce easy for the new designer to take on. They worked on revenue generations, fair commissions, affiliate and other models. They discussed go-to-market and developed startegic and tactical plans. They sweated, often till late at night.
More importantly, the students fought for work that needed to be done. They understood that the more they took on, the more they are exposed to. They proved that hunger is the most critical attribute a person needs to grow into a career. And they were super hungry.
What next? Well, we are now focusing on getting rock and olive some traction. This means working on the #stopsocksandsandals campaign, creating great content, understanding long tail keywords and analytics and both listening and engaging via social media. We are also working on new businesses, one in the travel space and the other in recruitment SaaS. Both interesting and we are very excited to get more of this great quality.
Lastly, we recently started working with Universities in the U.K. and offering NOW Academy as an extension to there Master’s courses. Interest in this has been phenomenal as it gives students real access and exposure to digital business experience, for free, in Malta!
All in all, we are and will continue to be very excited with NOW Digital. As it evolves with every new student and suggestion, we hope to give opportunities to tomorrow’s digital professions, and let them discover better versions of themselves.