Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Start-Up Article: Learnemy

This week has been a busy week but after reading about this lady, I can't help but feel I should write an article about Learnemy and its founder Elisha Tan.
Totally courageous and her bravery is commendable.
Why so?
She started a tech start-up without having any code background ! And started from scratch!
As many have said " The greatest invention arises from a need"

However there are also things I don't really agree with how it is being done.
Rather than having a charge to it, I prefer through skill sharing. Meaning you share your skills because you want to do with the community and with this sharing, it will entitle you to attend a class that someone is sharing. Feels like a better way at least to me.

Learnemy is a peer-to-peer and formally informal learning platform. In one phrase - Sharing of skills.
It is a platform for knowledge-thirsty individuals looking to connect with others to learn skills and/or sell/utilize their skills - connecting people to learning opportunities that you otherwise couldn’t find. For example if you want to learn the violin but the no local music schools offer violin lessons, or they do but its $100 a lesson — instead you can connect with someone in your community on Learnemy who could teach you the violin, at the agreed upon amount of $25 per lesson.

All said, I still like the social purpose in why she started Learnemy.
I want to help people make a living doing what they like to do.
The heart of the idea revolves around bringing economic empowerment to skills that otherwise are not perceived as a financially viable option to be pursued as a career. These skills may include dancing, drawing, cooking, singing etc.
What irritates me in my society is that the society, or rather economy, does not reward these different talents equally and hence there is a perverse equation of banking (or any high prestigious jobs) job = success or success = the amount of money rolling in. So if a particular job doesn’t bring in money, don’t bother about it.
In preparation for the attainment of this ‘success’, majority of parents in Singapore will strongly advise their kids to follow the JC-Uni route first before nurturing their passions of drawing, singing, music. The only exception comes when the kid has shown extreme talent in where his passion lies.
But what if a business can bring in economic value to such skills, that one can spend time honing these skills and still bring in big bucks?
Maybe it will then create a change in the perception of such skills on the society. When it happens, the ‘unsafe’ route will be more acceptable and we can all shave off the years of doing what we don’t like while taking the ‘safe’ route. All the time saved could be spent on developing our skills, what we really like to do, what we’re really born to do.
To bring in income, they can teach their skills and to teach it, they need to be able to find students. Learnemy is an online platform that makes it easy for teachers and learners of recreational classes find one another.
Learnemy allows interested learners to post up what they would like to learn, coupled with information such as price and location without disclosing their contact details. Teachers can find these intentions and make an offer to the student to match his/her request. All offers collected will be reflected in a comparison table.

Here's a worthy sharing from Elisha that I took from E27 Web Innovation in Singapore

5 things I learned as a young, female, solo founder who can’t code

#1 – Keep the child in you
A lot of my swimming instructors told me that they will much prefer to teach children because they have no fear in jumping into the pool while adults whine too much before making the leap. Children are pretty bad in determining how dangerous something is. To look on the bright side, a child’s naivety is also his bravery. So keep the child in you and stay naïve. That keeps you brave.

#2 – “I need a co-founder to start the business” is bullshit.
You and I have read more important having a team is. Yes, it’s true that you can’t do everything yourself. But no, being solo is not an excuse for you to not start on your startup.  Just to make myself clear, I value the importance of a team. But it’s an excuse not to start on anything just because you don’t have one.
After spending 4 months on searching for a tech co-founder and speaking to other founders who are at idea stage and needed a co-founder, I’ve came up with a list of excuses that other founders and I were using. Read that article and ask yourself, why really do you need a tech co-founder? Understanding this question helped me move out off my pit of excuses.

#3 – Your brain is your best asset
Whatever you don’t know, learn. For me, there are two kinds of stuffs I don’t know – the things I know that I don’t know yet and the things I don’t know that I well, don’t know. For the former, a quick Google/Quora search will show the materials you need to digest (or see this article for free programming resources). For the latter, I talked to as many people as I can, sounded absolutely stupid (I don’t have to try very hard for this), and uncovered what I need to know.

#4 – Being female is awesome
I don’t know if there’re any ladies out there who thinks that they can’t make it because they’re female. If there are, I think the only crippling factor for such ladies is their mindset. Being a female founder today is awesome! The community is actively pushing for more females in tech entrepreneurship so there many females-only  opportunities everywhere. Ride this wave.

#5 – Make use your disadvantages
I believe that good and bad experiences are both good teachers. For all rejections I’ve faced, I wear these battle scars like a proud mother.
With that mentality, I’m a fan of using my weaknesses. I’ve realized that my disadvantages are really good stories for the media. If I were a stereotypical tech startup founder, I probably need a lot more to share my story.
Starting up is hard. Nobody owes you anything to see you succeed, but you’ll be surprised that there are many people willing to help you unconditionally. Being a solo, young tech startup founder who can’t code, I’ve received much love and support from the community on my journey and I’ll love to help you out in whatever limited ways I have.

Keep it going!

If you wish to reach her, you may drop her an email at Elisha.tan@gmail.com/ Elisha@learnemy.com, follow her on Twitter at @elishatan or link up with her professionally on LinkedIn.

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