How LiveHive is helping coaches create the online courses of the future
Not everyone has spent the pandemic gorging on box sets; millions of people with a bit of spare time have used it to learn new skills, whether it’s learning a language or taking a business course. And for coaches and teachers passing on their knowledge, the ability of online courses to reach students everywhere has been a real eye-opener. However, there was a problem. While many coaches have loved teaching online, the day-to-day running of these classes has often been exhausting and frustrating.
Enter LiveHive, a new platform that aims to solve exactly this problem. Founder Dave Nicholson thinks online courses are here to stay even after the pandemic passes. “But coaches won’t want to have to build a stack of different technologies to run their business,” he explains.
Nicholson started the company with co-founder Winnie Man, inspired by a lockdown conversation between the two of them. “Winnie had recently completed her training as a yoga and meditation coach and started her own business; when Covid-19 arrived, she started giving classes on Zoom,” he recalled. “The lessons themselves were good, but the rest was really hard work.”
Running this type of business is harder than people think, Nicholson points out. Coaches have to manage their schedules, answer questions from students and prospective students, make sure people pay, send links to classes, and manage an ever-changing membership. The list of jobs is endless, even before coaches start thinking about sales and marketing to attract new business. Worse, each element of the process requires the use of a different platform or technology.
“Winnie effectively had to create his own tech stack,” says Nicholson. “It’s not ideal for the coach and it doesn’t work very well for the students either, so we decided to create an end-to-end solution that could do it all.”
LiveHive is the fruit of their labor. Launched in the second half of last year, Nicholson describes the platform as “Shopify for coaches”. The idea is that coaches should be able to use LiveHive as a one-stop-shop, providing all the tools they need to run their business through a white-label solution tailored to what they do. For their own customers, it will look like an in-house solution.
“We believe we can reduce the time our users spend administering their business by 80-90%,” says Nicholson. “It’s important because it gives them more time to teach.”
In other words, coaches will have more opportunities to meet the undeniable demand for online learning across a range of disciplines. A growing body of evidence suggests that millions of people around the world believe online courses are better than the traditional approach. Last but not least, these courses are open to everyone, wherever they live. Investments in the broader “educational technology” space more than doubled to $16 billion last year, according to a survey.
“We believe it’s possible to teach people using live online video as well, and perhaps even better, than face-to-face,” Nicholson says. “The last 18 months have changed the world in so many ways, and when it comes to teaching, we believe what was once niche has become mainstream – coaches, trainers, teachers, professionals and creators around the world have sustainable businesses to build as a result.”
LiveHive’s ambition is to build its own business on the back of this phenomenon. It earns money through fees based on either a percentage of the fees coaches charge when using the site or a regular monthly fee. The first model gives coaches the chance to try out the platform before committing to a subscription.
For now, LiveHive is focused on informal education — everything from art classes to yoga sessions, or business classes to cooking demonstrations. He thinks the market is worth up to £1.5bn a year in the UK alone and it’s reasonable to expect annual growth rates of 30%. Over time, Nicholson points out, the model is transferable to more traditional education, with schools, colleges and universities now making greater use of online learning.
The key, he says, is to focus on what coaches need to run their business effectively and efficiently – and that’s largely transferable. “We don’t think it’s necessary for us to specialize in any particular kind of class — we’re building solutions to a common set of problems,” says Nicholson.