Irvine educational startup sees big growth during pandemic’s online pivot – Daily News

on Jun26
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Looking to promote your cooking classes? Or maybe a how-to course on calligraphy, wood carving — or backyard patio building?

For companies that want to service a wide audience, Kajabi in Irvine offers an e-commerce platform where entrepreneurs can build, market and sell educational content.

The company was founded in 2010 by Kenny Rueter, who created a sprinkler toy made with PVC pipes for his sons. When other parents began asking how they could create similar creations, Rueter made a how-to video. But he didn’t want to give it away, so he created Kajabi.

Kajabi doesn’t take a percentage of creators’ profits, so whatever they make on the platform, they get to keep. Customers instead opt for a free 14-day trial to see if they like it, and then they can subscribe to one of three pricing plans: basic at $119 a month, growth at $159 a month and pro for $319 a month.

A pivot to online tools during the pandemic helped drive Kajabi to “exponential growth.” The company said it doubled its headcount to 414 in the last year and generated annual revenue of more than $100 million, an increase of more than 250% over the last two years.

Samantha Matthews is the Vice President of People Operations at Kajabi, a company that provides an online platform for people to build, market, and sell educational content, in Irvine on Wednesday, June 8, 2022. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

We asked Samantha Matthews, Kajabi’s vice president of people operations, to talk about the company’s growth over the last two years.

Q: Walk me through the process of how Kajabi works.

A: When you make a Kajabi account, you can create online courses, coaching programs, membership sites, communities and more to sell what you know. After clients create their digital product, Kajabi helps them get it out into the world with marketing funnels, email marketing and through the website. Whether it’s a company scaling up or a solo entrepreneur, our tools help them build a sustainable knowledge business.

Q: How many people have used Kajabi to build, market and sell their educational content since the company was established in 2010?

A: Over 56,000 customers have published 1.1 million products, including courses, podcasts, coaching programs and communities since 2010.

Q: How was the company able to generate so much growth in the pandemic?

A: COVID-19 brought a new set of challenges to how we work, and our online-based platform met a lot of needs for people to have a place to explore an online business. The ability to appeal to such a large variety of entrepreneurs and creators cemented us as a viable and reliable resource for people seeking resources to build their business in this new virtual environment. Our product functionality and features unlock value for a new business venturing into the market, as well as well-established businesses. That versatility has contributed to our exponential growth.

Q: What are some of the topics entrepreneurs promote via your website, and what are some of the more unusual ones?

A: Standard course topics include health and wellness instructors, life coaches, business coaching, cooking courses, photography courses, “how-to” courses and podcasts. Some of the more unusual ones include foraging for mushrooms, clown school, learning Celtic drumming, horse ballet and how to make a balloon arch.

Q: What have been the company’s biggest challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic?

A: Adapting to a completely remote environment for an extended period of time brought new challenges in the way we communicate and how to maintain cross-functional collaboration.

We attempted to solve this with more frequent all-hands, monthly leadership meetings and ask-me-anything sessions with our president and CEO. We have since transitioned back to a hybrid schedule. And with the hope of COVID-19 being in the past, we are energized to continue to build on the culture we have created.

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