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Generating revenue to sustainably grow the team

Zander Whitehurst
Founder and CEO, Memorisely
6m read

Sustainable Growth

You've got an idea, you've proved it, it's viable and now you turn to the one thing that makes the business world go round...money. Most entrepreneurs won't have enough capital to fund their idea. Or if they do, then they will run out pretty quick. They then need outside investment. However, at Memorisely, we have taken an alternative approach. We didn't necessarily want to rely on outside investment for our business we wanted sustainable growth. From day one I've avoided investment for a couple reasons...

No Exit, No Need

Angel investors and VC's want one thing, profit. This comes mainly in the form of an exit strategy (acquisition or IPO). However, when you don't plan to exit you're not the most attractive prospect. Don't confuse the words 'no exit' with 'no ambition' to grow. It's the opposite. We're super ambitious, and instead of taking a hard and fast approach, I prefer to sustainably grow the Memorisely team and community for years to come. For me, it's a multi-day ultra-marathon, not a quick 5km.

I'm familiar with running Ultra Marathons vs 5k fun runs

Community First Profit Later

The last 10 years I have tried and failed to build 5 businesses. I realised I was guessing at the market fit.  I learnt that you need to mix passion with an existing market. Memorisely is the perfect cocktail. I decided to learn from my community and then build my product.

Building Memorisely alongside Memorisers has been a truly uplifting experience. Growing your product alongside your community for your community is one of the best ways in my opinion. It takes out the guesswork and makes sure your product is a dead fit.

We've grown a community of 1,700 designers in 87 countries

Growing Within our means

There's no-one more stressed than an entrepreneur trying to raise capital just so they can make next month's salary round. Therefore, I decided to race like the Tortoise and build within my means. This has meant I can focus on quality and quantity. Quality to me means that I focus on the Memorisers and their needs vs investor demands. To date, we have 1,700 Memorisely Tribe Members, 91 Microlearning members and full Remote Bootcamps month-on-month. It's easy to get carried away, but quality is far more important than quantity and I'm focused on ensuring everyone has a quality experience vs being another number.

Independent Thinking

With a community product, you're never alone you've got your community. However, if I had some outside influence that was focused on profit rather than product, then I would lose this independent thinking. Look at Costa Coffee. They conform to a system - the same milk, the same beans, the same font, and signs. Their managers can't think independently.

An independent coffee shop up the road from me changes every day and week. New beans, new quirky signs, different milk providers. This experience is far more stimulating, local, and attractive. This is what we need with Memorisely. We need Memorisers to be constantly stimulated to learn and evolve as designers. They can't do this in a regimented system it needs to be agile and personal every day.

Being a Unicorn is a pipe dream

Unicorn's aren't real. But Labrador's Are

Becoming a Unicorn is the aim of most startups. We might get there one day, but I would rather be seen as the family dog that everyone knows, loves, and has undying, reciprocated love for its family. If we focus on anything but the community, we're lost. So to us, being a Unicorn is a pipe dream. We want to focus on People and Product.

How Do We Maintain Sustainable Growth?

Multiple Revenue Streams

By taking a step back, thinking of Memorisers needs first we've been able to strategise revenue streams. We have realised that Memorisers need more than one product. This is a win win. It also gives Memorisely multiple revenue streams.

Our Bootcamps make learning online personal with a class of 10 designers around the world

Remote Bootcamps for UX/UI Designers create a personal learning experience for designers around the world. They are more personal and alternative to the other competitors out there. Here you're part of the team, not a number, joining a class of 10 designers around the world to learn together. These Bootcamps begin at $90 a month and so far our classes are full months in advance

Our Microlearning Club form a healthy UX/UI learing habit month-on-month

The Microlearning Club allows us to cater for the designers who don't have time for our Bootcamps. But this doesn't mean they should miss out. Through Atomic learning they can use Memorisely to enhance their skill set month-on-month. We have nearly 100 new and experienced designers who master a new principle with an eBook, challenges, and templates.

Hiring the Right Team Members At the Right Time

Because we've stayed within our means to date, it has allowed me to really seek out what the community needs. I currently have the bandwidth to focus on the products and the community.

But soon we will need to split these out. By hiring a Community Manager first, I can work with them to keep everyone happy. They will be the anthropomorphism of Memorisely. Their goal is to put the community first, organize events, and make sure we're putting people first.

I've spoken loads about the Memorisers themselves. The unique thing about them is they come from all over the world. Therefore we have realised the need to have Country Ambassadors. They will champion Memorisely in each of their regions and aid the Community Manager to make Memorisely great.

Had we thought of growth first, then I am 100% sure that we wouldn't have made it to the stage of putting on our July and August Bootcamps. We would have failed. This isn't to say it's the only way or the best way for every business - it's the best way for Memorisely.  If you have any further thoughts about our growth and my ideas noted above, then please let me know - zander@memorisely.com

Zander Whitehurst
Founder and CEO, Memorisely

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