Wes Kao Profile picture
14 Jan, 22 tweets, 7 min read
Over the last 5 years, I’ve helped build courses taken by 40,000 students w/ $30M+ in revenue.

Today we’re launching a *free* cohort-based course on How to Build a CBC!

At the end of this, you’ll have a full course ready to launch.

Apply here: bit.ly/2XE1Gni

Read on
A CBC on CBCs is a bit meta. But it's the best way to teach a complex topic that benefits from hands-on projects, peers, feedback.

@patel0phone and I have been working 1:1 w/all-star instructors (like @APompliano @lennysan). Now we're ready to apply these lessons to your course
Our system is proven yet flexible.

It's not one-size-fits-all. We teach underlying skills & create an accountability system so you build a course that's uniquely yours.

It’s the same process I’ve used for @alt_MBA @david_perell @fortelabs @section_four

Structure and accountability:

The course creation process is complex. There are lots of interconnected
decisions & second order effects.

We help you make sense of it with:

+ Step by step process
+ Clear deliverables
+ Feedback from us & peers
+ Gut checks
+ Weekly homework
On a weekly basis, you'll know what to work on and why--so you can efficiently & effectively create a high quality course you're proud of.

It's an iterative process to get ideas out of your head, share feedback, discuss, build, refine, lock it in. Piece by piece, brick by brick

By the end of this course, you’ll have a CBC that's ready to launch. We’ll cover:

What to build: Figuring out your audience & course brief

How to build: Group exercises, lectures, projects, even slides

How to sell: Building buzz for your course & filling seats
This isn’t our first rodeo. @patel0phone and I have over a decade of combined experience building these courses and most recently we’ve been helping 6 brilliant instructors build their courses.

This is just a taste of the types of questions we’ll help you answer:
Upside & freedom:

CBCs are not set it & forget it. They require work to build the first time; if you build it right, it’s easier to run in the future.

The upside: many courses I’ve worked on had 80-90%+ profit margins & premium pricing of $500-$5,000/student.
Avoid common and preventable mistakes:

You can certainly build a course faster or lower quality, and you might still fill your first few cohorts. But it’s hard to grow and scale with a shoddy foundation.

That’s why we spend MORE time upfront bc your CBC is an investment.
Leveraging the model:

Cohort-based courses are complex. There are lots more moving parts compared to pre-recorded, on-demand courses.

There’s a mix of live vs asynchronous. Coach-facilitated vs student-led. Solo vs group work. Too much or too little of one & students disengage

We believe in building courses that are modular--each course component can be reused & rearranged. The building blocks of CBCs are live lectures, small group discussions, projects/exercises, coaches, etc.

In a well-designed course you can mix & match w/minimal effort.
Design w/marketing in mind:

You have to constantly sell a student to make it to day 2, week 1, etc. The selling never ends. We help you reinforce the value students are getting because perceived value = value.

We focus on both curriculum & marketing bc they go hand in hand.
That’s why we build with student acquisition top of mind.

It’s easy to fill the first few cohorts. It’s cohort #4 - #100 that show whether you have course-market fit.

We’ll help you think about how to create a flywheel to drive new students.

Who is it for?

(a) You have a course (in-person workshop, recorded video course) but don't know how to turn it into an interactive CBC


(b) You’re a subject matter expert on a topic your audience already wants to learn from you
This is not for you if you...

+ Expect us to do all the work for you
+ Can’t commit to a rigorous schedule of 8-10 hours/week to produce your course
+ Are hard to coach and won’t take our advice
Time commitment:

~10 hrs/wk for 6-8 weeks. The course will kick off in April/May 2021.

Courses are an upfront investment--with a strong foundation you can scale easily for future cohorts.

Even w/a process it still takes a lot of work to create a successful CBC though
"Do it with you":

On the spectrum of "do it for you" to "do it yourself," our approach is "do it w/you." This means we provide the structure, advisory, course work, and milestones to help you stay accountable.

But YOU are ultimately responsible for the success of your course.
Community of top-notch creators & instructors:

We’re thoughtfully curating a cohort of course creators who you’ll build alongside, learn from, and support. These are folks who are at the top of their craft, humble, generous, and eager to contribute.

To recap, our CBC for CBCs will cover:

+ course-market fit
+ mechanics of your course
+ ideal student profile
+ course length
+ number of students
+ price point
+ hands-on projects
+ format
+ growth / student acquisition
+ lots more


The course is free. If you go thru it you'll be a beta customer for our new product. This product will be offered as a revenue-share.

We’ll invest signif effort in your course & you'll be part of our platform’s future launch. Will share details w/selected instructors
Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. If we believe you could be a good fit, we'll reach out to share the terms, timing, and details. You can think about it & decide if this is right for you.
Building your CBC is a big deal & I'm honored that you trust us. We've worked w/incredible folks to help build their courses, and every time, it's magic. You're in good hands & we're excited to help you build a course that's uniquely yours.

Apply here: bit.ly/2XE1Gni

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More from @wes_kao

16 Dec 20
Communities are a focal point of cohort-based courses (CBCs). You can't just have a start and end date, and expect students to finish. You NEED community.

So how is community building different for CBCs vs other products? What are challenges unique to courses?

Read on
1/ Cohort-based courses have a start and end date. This sense of urgency (aka a deadline) is exactly what most of us need to get our shit together and focus.

This time bound element means you can't build community with a slow burn.
2/ Like a Michael Bay movie where cars are blowing up in the first three minutes, there needs to be action right away.

For a 2 week course, if students are feeling cold 1 week in... 50% of the course is already over.
Read 10 tweets
7 Dec 20
Today, @gaganbiyani and I are launching a crowdfunding campaign for anyone to apply to invest in our startup!


Why? Angel investing can be intimidating and elitist. I never considered angel investing until this year when I wrote my first small check
It's still new to me and I've only ever made one investment. But one thing I know is this:

We don't need more of the same investors in every room.

It's time to democratize who gets to participate in investing. This is our small way of inviting new faces into the mix.
The main thing I hope to get across is don’t assume you aren’t the *type of person* to angel invest.

Because maybe you are, and maybe this gets you thinking about being open to it. So later down the line, you can look into doing it if/when it’s right for you
Read 11 tweets
12 Nov 20
Excited to share more about our new company!

Today @gaganbiyani and I are announcing a $4.32M seed round led by @firstround

We're building a platform for Cohort-Based-Courses: bit.ly/wk-gb

But first, a few lessons from the past 5+ years building CBCs... 👇
When Seth Godin and I started the altMBA in 2015, I had no idea cohort-based courses (CBCs) would grow this fast.

At first I was skeptical: Could an online course be both intimate yet scalable?

Then our 1st cohort of ~100 students in May 2015. We knew this format was special
1. Learning by doing

In working with 10,000+ students in cohort-based courses of all sizes, I've rarely heard students say "I wish there were more lectures."
Read 13 tweets
15 Oct 20
Most people, most of the time, will agree your product is valuable.

This isn't the problem.

The problem is they don't think it's important enough to *take action right now.*

So they AGREE with you, just not enough to take action.
They think, "This is interesting. I should keep an eye on it for the future."

All good things die when people say that.

You need your customers to feel the *immediate, subconscious, visceral realization that they need to take action*.

This is the entire goal of marketing.

In the short run, it's with performance marketing.

In the long run, it's with brand marketing.

But in both cases, the goal is to build trust, stay top of mind, increase desire, and get people to realize they should take action.
Read 5 tweets
13 Oct 20
The fastest way to stand out & add value = have a spiky point of view

🌵Spiky point of view is

✓ A perspective others can disagree with
✓ A thesis about topics in your realm of expertise
✓ A belief you are willing to advocate for
Each person has a unique way of seeing the world.

It’s what separates you from everyone else.

It’s the culmination of your experience, skills, personality, instincts, and intuition.

These factors have molded you into the person you are today.
A spiky point of view is powerful because it showcases your thinking:

🧠 how you approach your craft
🧠 why you make the decisions you make
🧠 how you think rigorously & interpret the world around you
Read 8 tweets
10 Sep 20
My best advice for career switchers:

1. Act as if you’re already in the new role.

Most ppl think “I’m in academia trying to break into entertainment.”

The secret is to convince yourself you’re already in entertainment. See your transferrable skills thru the lens of the new job
2. Frame your experience only through the lens of the new position/industry.

You might be proud of your previous work but it's time to move on. Don’t get caught up in what you did before.

Focus on the 20-30% of what you did that’s most relevant to your new role.
3. Connect the dots for the hiring manager.

If your skills don’t look obviously relevant, be explicit and explain the connection.

Actively frame how you want them to view you. Otherwise they'll pick a random frame and you won't like what they pick
Read 6 tweets

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