Irvine educational startup sees big growth during pandemic’s online pivot – Orange County Register

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 a service to a wide audience, Kajabi in Irvine has 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 get 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.

Each plan has varying levels of pipelines, products and contacts. Pipelines are a marketing automation tool that allows creators to build marketing funnels to streamline how they run their online business.

Products refer to the products they can create through Kajabi, including an online course, a coaching program, a membership site or an online community. And contacts are the people on an email list, many of which might not be active members.

We asked Samantha Matthews, Kajabi’s vice president of people operations, to talk about the company and the growth it has seen 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: You say your company doubled its headcount to 414 in the last year during the COVID-19 pandemic and generated annual revenue of more than $100 million, an increase of more than 250% over the last two years. How were you able to generate that kind of growth?

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 and creators cemented us entrepreneurs 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, learn 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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