How to Start an eLearning Business and Run Your Own Startup?

12 min read

What is the e-learning industry and why is it worth starting a business in the near future? What type of software is the most profitable for an entrepreneur, and how to start implementing your business idea? Learn more and find out which business model to choose and how to identify the right e-lending development company.

E-learning platform types

E-Learning Business Market Overview

The e-learning industry has long been an integral part of social life. It affects any area of ​​human activity - from entertainment and hobbies to science, education, and healthcare. However, there are 4 spheres - healthcare, education, computer, and information technology, and retail/e-commerce - which are the most promising areas in which to launch an e-learning business today.

This industry includes both content and technologies used to create and distribute that content.

The products of the e-learning industry can be categorized according to different principles.

In terms of access, they are divided into public and internal corporate training systems. The former is mainly used to teach people different skills and specialties, while the latter is used, for example, when hiring an employee or teaching specific specialized knowledge.

The e-learning industry is rapidly adapting to modern realities. VR / AR technologies, artificial intelligence - all of this is already being actively implemented in educational software.

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How to Choose the Type of eLearning System for Your Business?

Based on information from our source, let’s figure out the types of rendering:

Learning Destination Sites

This type is a generic website containing offers from different course providers. It’s like a showcase or interface for a large number of retailers (like Amazon).

Such sites usually allow you to create courses yourself - for this, they have a development tool or a learning management system.

You can download the created courses or link to the site. At the same time, student registration and e-commerce are not on your shoulders - all these processes are carried out by the same site.

Traditional Learning Management System

A traditional commercial learning management system is an e-learning platform equipped with basic functionality for creating an online course.

On such a platform, you can create a course, store it, and also manage students’ profiles, monitoring their progress and grades. There are more than 700 suppliers of such systems on the market today (such as Coursera, Adobe Captivate, Blackboard), most of which are focused on corporate teaching. However, some of them have “advanced corporate” functionality that allows content to be repurposed for a wider external audience.

Open Source Learning Management System

Examples of such systems are Moodle, Sakai, and Open edX.

This type of e-learning platform is in many ways built in a similar way to the commercial LMS solution.

The main difference between these two is that in the case of the Open Source Learning Management System, the basic functionality is usually free and can be tweaked.

Each platform typically comes with vendor communities that have the authority to host and configure open source LMSs (for a fee).

Modern Learning Management Solutions

This type was created in contrast to LMS systems in order to become more progressive and free from the traditional problems inherent in them.

Modern Learning Management Solutions is developed based on learners’ experiences and sometimes specific educational practices not supported in traditional LMS solutions.

This category is well represented by Docebo, Totara, Litmos, Motivis and NovoEd, and many others, the number of which is increasing day by day.

Learning Management Ecosystems

This model represents an integrated system that includes the best “point” solutions for the creation of educational programs.

Software for creating a course with tools for assessment and content management, e-commerce sites, mechanisms for adaptive education - all this is integrated and formed into a single whole.

Often such solutions are built with an individual interface to create the feeling of a single e-learning system for the clients, where they can choose the instructor, manage their learning program, etc. 

One of the most prominent examples of such an ecosystem is the NeXus platform of the University of Notre Dame, which is based on Open edX (open source LMS). The platform is equipped with over 10 software tools and a customizable interface.

Custom Built Platforms

The essence of this solution is to create an educational product practically from scratch.

In many aspects, it’s a complicated decision, because it entails a larger investment of money and man-hours. However, resorting to it, you will get exactly the desired result, completely controlling the direction of web or mobile app development and all processes.

One of the most successful and popular examples of such systems is HBX - an educational platform created for the Harvard Business School.

5 Reasons Why Should You Decide to Launch an eLearning Startup

Launch it | Codempire

Why is the idea to start your own elearning or training business in 2021 so attractive? What makes this business niche so promising and profitable? Let’s take a closer look at the 5 main reasons:

  1. Demand creates supply. As discussed above, the pandemic has forever brought e-learning to some of the most relevant ways to learn.
  2. Globalization and the rapid development of technologies push people to constantly improve their professional qualities and skills, and no higher educational institution can provide people with the opportunity to obtain the necessary knowledge continuously, without bureaucracy, and from anywhere in the world. That is why e-learning is the perfect solution to this problem.
  3. Low risks and high marginality. You don’t need huge funding to start an e-learning business. A modest investment is enough to create, for example, an app with courses; and the profit from this is several times higher than the investment.
  4. No restrictions! Drawing, mathematics, playing the guitar, floristry - all these and many other industries and hobbies can become the basis for courses, online classes, tutorials, video lessons! If you are experienced in something, this is a great opportunity to pass on your experience and start your own e-learning business based on this knowledge!
  5. You don’t need to be 24/7 involved in this business. You will not need to deliver anything, manufacture goods and other things related to other branches of business. Once created and launched, the content for your software will “work” for you almost autonomously. You just have to deal with business expansion and issues related to support and bug fixing. But even here it is easily solved with the help of an outsourcing company.

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Is eLearning Business Profitable?

If we talk about the industry as a whole, then this is one of the most profitable areas of business today. It was gaining popularity on its own, and the covid pandemic, which made its own adjustments to social life, further stimulated its development. And this trend continues to gain momentum.

Thus, according to estimates from various sources, the global LMS market in 2023 will exceed $ 20 billion, and the projected annual growth rate of the industry will be 19.6%.

By 2022, the e-learning market is expected to grow to and exceed the $ 243 billion mark.

By 2025, according to HolonIQ, the field of electronic education could reach $ 7.3 trillion.

The demand for this industry’s products will only grow in the next few years, so if you are already thinking about how to start an e-learning business online, now is the time to think more specifically about it!

Choose the Best Business Model Before Creating Your eLearning Startup

eLearning Startup Business Model

The business model is a fundamental aspect from which to proceed when starting an elearning business.

Because the budget, terms of the project and its prospects in the future directly depend on which one you choose. There are three main models that we will look at in more detail.

Night School

At its core, it is a standard adult education program. This is the best option if you decide to start your own e-learning or training business in the form of a course app. It should be a complete product with a clear structure, divided into subtopics, with a final quiz to check the material learned.

Monetization of such a course occurs as a one-time payment for a ready-made training program.

This model has undeniable advantages:

  • You get money right away - before the start of the learning process.
  • With successful marketing, you can create high excitement around your product and thus make a lot of money in a relatively short time.

However, there are some snags here:

  •  From one user you receive only a one-time payment - he does not need to reinvest in your software, because it already has a fixed structure that does not imply any improvements or paid add-ons.
  • In addition, such a product has limitations in terms of reaching customers - in order to attract a larger audience, you will have to create several courses on different topics at once. And this is more time-consuming and laborious.

Academy

This model assumes to launch an elearning startup with expanded functionality, advanced structure, and an impressive amount of content.

So, you offer users not just mastering one specific aspect or skill, but more extensive knowledge that makes it possible to study the subject more fully.

In this case, monetization usually occurs on a monthly basis in the form of a subscription fee.

The obvious advantages of such a business model are:

  • Fixed income. You regularly receive payments from both old and new customers over a long period of time;
  • You get endless income selling the same content over and over. Both new and older materials continue to “work”, generating a steady income;
  • Your users remain more engaged due to the wider range of skills and information provided.

Perhaps the main disadvantages of such a model are the complexity, duration and considerable cost of development. A fundamental complex product requires an equally responsible approach, funding, and, of course, a support system.

Combined model

It is not hard to guess what the essence of this model is - it takes the most advantageous aspects from the two previous ones.

How does it work?

The main method of monetization is borrowed from the academic model - this is a subscription fee. But at the same time, the user can purchase additional materials, courses and tutorials, paid separately.

Of course, the development of such a product is not an easy and wasteful business, but on the other hand, starting an online elearning business with this model, you get a stable subscription income + dividends from one-time paid additional materials.

7 Steps How to Start an eLearning Business

Answering the question of how to start an elearning business, it is important to say that you should carefully draw up an algorithm of actions, and take up the organizational side of the work. This will help you complete development faster and more efficiently. Here’s a sample action plan:

  1. Determine who your user is. To understand who your target audience is and how to please them, consider factors such as age, location, main request, problems, and pains they face in learning.
  2. Formation of Ideas and creation of drafts with features - writing a simple document with a detailed description of the future platform, its main tasks, and specifications;
  3. Determine the roles of the participants in your platform (often a student, teacher, admin);
  4. Make a market analysis and see competitors - what features they have, what approaches they use, and what result it brings. Which of these you should use for yourself, and what to avoid;
  5. Design phase and prototyping - a more detailed analysis of the project, the creation of MVP;
  6. Development itself. If you want to start a successful e-learning business, be careful and choose the right development company for a startup. It’s good when you have established communication, favorable terms of cooperation, and you can track and control the creation of your software.
  7. Marketing and pricing. Using the results of market research, work out a good marketing scheme and pricing policy. Do not neglect this stage, and use every possible path of advancement. Pay attention especially to social media and networks - YouTube, Instagram, thematic sites and forums, etc.

How Can We Help When You are Starting an eLearning Business?

Codempire has already helped technical partners to successfully create an e-learning startup on several occasions, so we have good expertise in this area.

To confirm these words, here are some examples of successfully implemented educational products:

Potatomath

Potatomath project | Codempire

Our client was a Malaysian educational hub specializing in teaching children mathematics and some programming languages (such as Python and JS).

The main challenge was to create educational software for children, which would not only effectively improve their knowledge and skills, but also keep little users engaged in the learning process.

We formed a team of 4 software engineers and developed the game using our proven technologies - ReactNative, TypeScript, Firebase for mobile development, and Node.js, Nest.js, MongoDB, AWS for backend.

The finished product is available on IOS and Android platforms.

The gameplay takes place on topics (Algebra, Geometry, Probability Theory, etc.), at the end of each module the student has to pass a quiz. Based on it’s results, game points - potatoes are awarded, the number of which determines the rating of the participant among others. In addition to the successful completion of the quiz, potatoes are also awarded for special achievements (for example, for the correct answer to 20 questions, successful completion of 2 modules).

In addition, we have developed a real-time battle mode - for even more engagement through competition.

So, in total, it took our company 4 months to create the MVP of this product. Now the game covers more than 50 topics and is successfully used to teach children.

Avid Adventures

Avid Adventures project | Codempire

The product owner is Avid Adventures from Singapore. They specialize in career consulting workshops for schools and corporate organizations.

They already had a ready-made design and requirements. Our task was to develop a web app based on this documentation.

The goal was to bring their Career Life game from a raw idea to a finished product, with the possibility of real-time play during events with large audiences.

Initially, the game was supposed to be a mobile simulation application based on research and career theories, which had no analogs in the world.

But we only had 3 months to develop, and publishing on the AppStore and Google Play presupposes a longer and more difficult launching period (only for the publish application to take about a month). We found a way out of the situation - we decided to develop a Progressive Web Application, which is essentially a website, but looks and works like a mobile application.

As a result, our team was able to meet the deadline and the MVP was successfully launched in 3 months!

Now we continue to cooperate with our partners, helping them scale and improve their products. Now it is no longer a promising startup, but an international educational project of interest to government and commercial organizations around the world.

As you can see, the experience of our development company is not just words, but specific projects with success stories.

Our experts can get acquainted with your business idea, discuss its basic characteristics, provide an expert preliminary estimate, determine the approximate timing of the project.

If our cooperation develops further, we will determine a mutually beneficial model of cooperation, we will select an ideal team for you; we will help you turn your raw idea into a ready-made e-learning solution that will boost your business.

After implementation, we also remain open to any changes, support, and your project scaling.

Conclusion

E-learning today is one of the most demanded and rapidly developing areas of business. And this trend will continue over the next few years.

This is driven by globalization, the accelerated technological progress, the need for endless skill improvement, and the coronavirus pandemic, which has highlighted the relevance and even the need for online learning resources.

Сreate an elearning business in 2021 is a great idea!

  • After all, the benefits far exceed the risks;
  • You will not lack customers;
  • Relatively easy management: you will not need to deal with complex logistics, constant delivery and production of goods;
  • An unlimited number of options - educational content can be created on any topic from art to medicine and highly specialized knowledge.

To open an e-learning business, you first need to decide on the main idea: choose the type of training application/website, think over its approximate concept.

Then comes the search for a technical partner - it is better to give preference to an experienced company, the quality of whose web development services you have no doubt about.

So, the formed startup idea begins to be embodied in a finished project, going through all stages - from estimate, design creation, to final launch.

After that, you have almost unlimited expansion options. And with our technology stack, your project will be as flexible as possible to any changes, expansion, and scaling.

Let's consider your idea in detail

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FAQ

How much does it cost to launch my own e-learning product?

If we talk about the average statistical data, the cost of developing an e-lending product varies from $ 20,000 USD to $ 100,000, depending on the complexity and scale of the project. But this is a very average cost, which in fact can differ significantly and is individual for each project. To understand how much it will cost to create an elearning business specifically for your idea, determine the degree of complexity of the functionality of your software; what technologies are you going to use, and also take into account the cost of creating content, including the work of instructors and teachers. On the basis of all this, we can advise you absolutely free - just contact us!

How to monetize my educational product?

Here are some basic ways to make money off educational software: 1. Subscription Model: users pay for access to the application. Here you can provide them a certain number of courses for free, plus offer access to a premium account for an additional price; and also make a special offer for corporate training, attracting more customers. 2. Additional Content: additional features, tools, media materials, and tutorials can be provided for an additional fee. 3. Affiliate Marketing Programs. Earn money through links that redirect users to partnered websites. 4. A donation, when payment is made on a voluntary basis. A striking example of such a system is Wikipedia.

How long will it take to create e-learning software from scratch?

It depends on the scale of your idea and the scope of your budget. If we are talking about an extremely simple product with a minimum set of features, then the implementation of the project may take less than a year. But if it is a complex product with an advanced admin panel, a multifunctional user interface, and the addition of complex technologies, its implementation may take several years. But regardless of this, our specialists will equally qualitatively develop both simple and larger-scale software, while you can always track all processes and control the creation of a product for each stage.

On which platform is it better to launch an e-learning product?

You don't need to make this choice! With our proven technology, we provide hybrid development so your application works across multiple platforms at once, saving you unnecessary budget spending, overpayments, and time.

Can I count on post-launch product support?

Sure! Our services include not only consulting and development but also support, bug fixing, as well as expanding the functionality of your project, and scaling it up. We already had experience in project development from a promising startup to a large international project, and we still help our technical partners to build an elearning business, getting more and more clients from different corners of the globe. We will be glad to do the same for you!