LU 360: A Crash Course on Scaling an Online Course Platform with Greg Smith, CEO of Thinkific (podcast) With Greg Smith

Thinkific has risen to become the top searched course platform since their CEO Greg Smith last appeared on the show and today he joins us again to share some amazing updates. Our conversation with Greg covers the story of Thinkific’s evolution, and the company’s best practices for marketing, hiring, subscriptions, and corporate culture. We dive right in hearing Greg’s story about his college how-to blog for passing the LSAT that he morphed into an online course with the help of his software developer brother. Next up, Greg gives us a bunch of metrics about the company’s gross revenue currently, how much the average course creator would pay and earn using Thinkific, and which types of courses tend to scale. He also touches on some of the company’s strategies around getting course creators prepared to put their best foot forward and create packageable content that adds meaning to consumers for growing their own businesses. Our interview then moves onto the topic of hiring and staff, and we hear Greg’s thoughts on delegation, headhunting, keeping vision aligned, and how to involve late cofounders from an ownership perspective. Thinkific stands as a great example of a company that scaled fast through a great team and business model so make sure you don’t miss this one.

TIME-STAMPED SHOW NOTES:

  • [00:21] Before we jump into today’s interview, please rate, review, and subscribe to the Leveling Up Podcast!
  • [00:26] Opening comments on Greg’s company Thinkific, the top searched course platform.
  • [01:16] How Greg’s LSAT college blog morphed into his first online course.
  • [02:56] Metrics on Greg’s course: its price, continuing amazing monthly sales, etc.
  • [03:36] How people are finding Greg’s course: YouTube and Google SEO converts.
  • [04:39] The way that Thinkific makes money from a freemium option upwards.
  • [05:27] Further metrics on Thinkific: 110 plus staff and 14 million ROI plus.
  • [06:42] What course creators make on Thinkific: from 5000 to tens of millions of dollars.
  • [08:00] Percentages of people who run courses on Thinkific that continue to scale.
  • [08:42] Three milestones for a course creator that bode well for future success.
  • [09:26] How the infrastructure trains course creators to make and market courses.
  • [11:40] What qualifies as a valid reason to run a course.
  • [12:50] Contributors to Greg’s success: a good team, paid ads, and refining focus.
  • [14:14] What Thinkific is doing to manifest its corporate culture: investing in people.
  • [17:43] How online course searches and Thinkific’s business focus bodes for their future.
  • [21:40] What people who run cheap courses on Thinkific do to market on low budgets.
  • [23:00] Greg’s biggest challenges in the last three years: knowing what to delegate.
  • [23:50] Why Greg only focuses on team building and strategy now.
  • [24:15] How well people that Greg hires do in tasks he thought he was good at.
  • [25:10] Going beyond workplace gimmicks to build a corporate culture.
  • [25:48] Whether a total hands-off leadership approach is really the best one.
  • [26:50] Greg’s approach to keeping staff on track by helping them articulate the mission.
  • [27:37] Employees who ended up merging into cofounder positions at Thinkific.
  • [28:35] Strategies for adding cofounders and equity along the way.
  • [29:30] Specifics of arrangements for how much equity to give cofounders.
  • [31:27] Greg’s must read books, favorite business tool, and companies he follows.

Resources From The Interview:

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