Brief interview with One Month's Mattan Griffel

Bambi Francisco Roizen · July 1, 2015 · Short URL:

One Month raises $1.9M this week, here's more about the new online school

In 1987, a frustrated customer in a computer store named Dan Gookin, whose vexation was borne out of his inability to understand computers, decided to create a book to teach people, like himself, about computers. Hence the "For Dummies" franchise was born. Move over Gookin, One Month, a new online site intended to teach courses in one month or in a very short time, appears to be gunning for that market.

One Month, an online school for "accelerated learning", raised $1.9 million in seed funding, its second seed since emerging from Y Combinator in 2013. The new funds come from Arena Ventures, Idea Bulb Ventures, Cornerstone OnDemand's Innovation Fund, and several others. The round brings One Month's total financing at $2.6 million.

Here's a brief interview with Founder and CEO Mattan Griffel, whom, like Gookin, created One Month out of frustration. "I created One Month Rails as a Skillshare course before One Month was born," said Griffel, via email. "Based on the success of the course on Skillshare (we had over 6,000 students) and wanting to build something that was better suited to the needs of the students and teachers, I ended up starting One Month with my co-founder Chris Castiglione."

Q: How is this different from Skillshare?

Griffel: Skillshare is a marketplace where teachers can create and post their own courses. One Month creates all of its own courses, and works with its own hand-selected teachers. One Month was built because Skillshare didn't have the features I needed to run a successful online course. It doesn't give teachers the tools to figure out what students are doing and where they're getting stuck. 

Q: How many students are on One Month today?

Griffel: There's no application process for One Month Rails. One Month has had over 25,000 students in total.

Q: What do the classes consist of?

Griffel: One Month Rails is an online course that teachers total beginners how to build their very first Web applications online using Ruby on Rails in just one month. It walks students through the process of building a simple, photo-sharing app like Pinterest and then gives students the tools necessary to turn that web application into whatever they want, whether it's something like Reddit, Instagram, Twitter, or anything you could put your mind to.

Q: How much do classes cost and how many classes do you have?

Griffel: One Month costs $49 per month for access to one course per month, and $99 per month for unlimited access to the entire curriculum. We have nine courses on One Month today: Rails, Python, HTML, iOS, Growth Hacking, Content Marketing, Programming for Non-programmers, Payment Processing, and Web Security.

Q: How is this different from Udemy?

Griffel: Udemy is also a marketplace, like Skillshare, where any teacher can post their own courses. At One Month, we create and produce all of our own courses, and hand-select the best teachers.

Q: How many teachers on the platform today?

Griffel: We've got eight teachers.

Q: What's the strategy to get teachers?

Griffel: We hand-pick teachers by identifying topics that we want to expand into and then looking for subject matter expects. Then we have a rigorous process of testing out new curriculum, and seeing if students resonate with the teacher. Our teachers need to be really passionate about education, and have strong personalities. 

Q: What's the economic model for teachers?

Griffel: We pay teachers a base salary, an upfront amount for the initial work of the building the course, and a variable amount based on how the course performs. Teachers are incentivized to update content and make sure it's meeting students' objectives.

Q: What's the model for consumers?

Griffel: The model is that students sign up to take a One Month course and get access to an online library of videos and personal support. The videos are step by step and about 15-30 minutes a day for 30 days. Students can take it at their own time, over the course of a month, or they can finish it in just a few days if they've got the time and are interested.

What we're really going after is life-long learning, so we want people to think about taking multiple courses with us and to constantly be leveling up their skills to improve their success at their jobs, their companies, or in school.

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Bambi Francisco Roizen

Founder and CEO of Vator, a media and research firm for entrepreneurs and investors; Managing Director of Vator Health Fund; Co-Founder of Invent Health; Author and award-winning journalist.

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