Back in April, 2015, I announced on this blog that I was working on a new startup called Podia. It was early. It was bootstrapped. It was exploratory. Since then a lot has happened, including a shift in direction, ten months of development, and identifying a much greater need that better aligned with what I wanted to do.
So, what has Podia become?
Podia is now a platform for professionals looking to independently market, manage and grow their businesses. We chose to start with tutors as an initial group of users because of how many there are worldwide and how they’ve been mistreated by tutoring marketplaces and agencies since the beginning of the Web.
But how are we different? Podia is the first product to actually work with the tutors and help them build and grow their businesses. Every other tutoring site has been focused on the student. With a giant increasing in online tutors, it seemed like an obvious place to start.
While we’re currently focused on tutors, our long-term mission is to become the go-to platform for all freelancers who want to invest in themselves and their businesses.
How does Podia make working independently easier?
Website - we created a free, customizable website template tutors can use to promote themselves and their services. The website template is customizable, so tutors can add their own information, domain name, logo and photo to make it their own.
Scheduling - in addition to a conventional calendar, we also built a public calendar, which tutors can use to set their availability and rates, allowing students to easily book time with them without the back-and-forth of emailing or texting.
Online payments - we know collecting cash and checks can be challenging (especially for online tutors), so we built an online payment tool, which allows tutors to instantly accept payments for lessons or appointments. You can even get paid before your lessons, by charging students automatically when they book time with you through your public calendar.
Content - we’ve heard time and time again that tutors want more ways to earn passive income, so to help them out, we created a course-builder, which allows tutors to upload and sell their own content, from PDFs to video courses.
The Podia Community - one of the reasons we created Podia was we saw a lack of support around the tutoring community and wanted to create a special place for tutors to connect with their peers and learn marketing tips to help them grow their businesses. By joining the Podia Community, tutors can get added to our tutor directory, join our Slack channel, get access to exclusive content, and get one-on-one help from our team of marketing experts.
Read And we’re live! Introducing Podia 1.0 on the Podia blog to learn more.
How we got here
As I wrote in my original blog post, Podia was heavily influenced from an idea I’d been designing on the side in 2014 around “building a platform for people to get online coaching for computer games, card games and board games.”
I’d shifted Podia away from games and into tutoring as my user research found that the games market was still too young and immature. The Podia I was bootstrapping and working on in April was still much of an experiment. What was the product going to be? What were the pain points it was going to solve? What was it going to do for people?
As I continued to work on Podia, I decided I didn’t want to build just another marketplace. I wanted to think bigger. I wanted to add more value. I wanted to get back to building software that helped improve people's lives, much like I had done at Carbonmade.
Fast-forward to the start of summer 2015; I started talking and meeting with as many tutors as I could. I used Craigslist to locate tutors in NYC who would meet with me. I took meetings morning, afternoon, and night. I had a list of questions I’d run through — all of which I still ask today of our current users — and by the end of June, I began re-imaging Podia.
That summer, I worked nonstop to build what you see today and after six months of being in Beta (it launched in September, 2015), Jamie, David, Gerardo, Annie, Jake and I are excited to introduce Podia to the world.
Where do we go from here
I held off on announcing Podia until now as I wanted us to finish the product foundation: website, scheduling, online payments, and content. We’ve now released the first versions of all of these products and are in the process of improving what matters most to our users.
I’m very excited about 2016 -- and Spring being right around the corner -- so please follow us on social media: Twitter, Facebook, and our Blog. If you have any ideas, suggestions, comments or feedback, please email me. I’d love to hear from you.
I want to start by thanking my team. It’s truly the best team I’ve ever worked with. Everyone is super talented, gets along fantastically well, takes care of business, and is constantly pushing us forward. We’re a small team, but the amount of work we’ve been able to do in only six months is mind-boggling. Anyone who has followed Podia since then would agree.
I’d also like to thank our investors. Yes, the bootstrapper who has written dozens of articles about bootstrapping has raised money for Podia. When you’re working on something this big, there are no good reasons not to raise money. I’m super thankful that having been in the NYC tech community for the past ten years has given me the opportunity to build relationships and earn the trust of our investors.