(By Erica Swallow)
“For my first Popexpert video chat, I spoke with wine connoisseur Debbie Gioquindo about my longtime goal to become a winemaker. Gioquindo, who owns a wine brand and is known as the “Hudson Valley Wine Goddess,” set me on the right path, pointing out a few options that could get me closer to learning how to make wine, even while I’m pursuing my MBA. The video chat was a departure from most digital experiences with new acquaintances as we had both carved out time to speak face-to-face about a very specific topic of which I was interested. The platform, too, enabled me to write and save notes during the video chat, as Gioquindo was spouting out wisdom left and right.“
The Internet has democratized business education—it’s now easier than ever to learn almost anything from nearly anyone you’d like to reach.
In the past, you might have had to send snail-mail correspondences, call repeatedly, or get a personal introduction to get advice from those high-profile individuals you so admire. In our connected world, though, the world’s top experts are just a click away.
Online education platform Skillshare led the pack for innovation in the learning space, enabling users to learn anything from anyone. It began as a platform for connecting with experts in the real-world and has since turned its focus back to online coursework.
Others, too, have followed suit, and three platforms in particular have caught my attention—Popexpert, Udemy, and Clarity. These three sites alone could keep me busy learning new skills and picking up side hobbies for months. Here’s why you should get started on each.
To my knowledge, Popexpert is the only site where you can easily search for and book experts to speak with in one-on-one, real-time video chats. No matter where you are, you can connect digitally with some of the world’s most interesting people to teach you about the ways of life and business.
Need a career coach? Book Kate Katsudaira, founder of employee-development startup popforms, to discuss your work woes. Want to learn how to run a crowdfunding campaign? Chat with Jesse Genet, who, as founder and CEO of innovative fabric-printing company Lumi, raised $280,000 in one of Kickstarter’s first breakout campaigns. Or trying to bring your screenplay to life? Why not enlist the executive producer of “The Blair Witch Project,” Kevin Foxe to discuss go-to-market strategies?
For my first Popexpert video chat, I spoke with wine connoisseur Debbie Gioquindo about my longtime goal to become a winemaker. Gioquindo, who owns a wine brand and is known as the “Hudson Valley Wine Goddess,” set me on the right path, pointing out a few options that could get me closer to learning how to make wine, even while I’m pursuing my MBA. The video chat was a departure from most digital experiences with new acquaintances as we had both carved out time to speak face-to-face about a very specific topic of which I was interested. The platform, too, enabled me to write and save notes during the video chat, as Gioquindo was spouting out wisdom left and right.
As CTO and Popexpert co-founder Jeremy Thomas told me, the company is starting with experts in what it deems the Life, Work, and Play categories—those who have a tendency to be more EQ (rather than IQ) focused. Users, then, will find experts on meditation, nutrition, relationships, and parenting, alongside productivity and marketing coaches, as well as language, music, and fashion professionals.
The company is just nine months old and raised $2.2 million in seed round capital in May—look for this one to make waves in the coming year.
If you’re a fan of video learning, but aren’t so into the face-to-face conversations offered by Popexpert, Udemy may be more up your alley.
Udemy is an online education platform, which offers self-directed, video-based courses for the most part, but also allows users to ask questions of their instructors when they just need a human voice to make sense of things.
Udemy courses, while rooted in video lessons, also feature documents, article references, and quizzes to keep users engaged. On the platform, users can search for courses in topics ranging from technology, business, photography, and design to languages, fitness, music, and sports.
Business owners will find Udemy’s wide range of marketing, entrepreneurship, content strategy, and analytics courses to be quite useful—especially since some of them come at the low cost of free.
I, for example, teach a Udemy course on public relations for startups, which features 13 video lectures and two hours of content, all on the topic of gaining press on a tight budget. The course has been taken by nearly 200 students and has a five-star rating. While most students are independent in going through the course, I receive the occasional message asking for clarifications, which I’m happy to engage.
As a student, I’ve experienced the same responsiveness on part of instructors, though I tend to mosey along on my own most of the time. Jim Hopkinson, author of Salary Tutor: Learn the Salary Negotiation Secrets No One Ever Taught You, for example, teaches a free course on salary negotiation, of which I’m a student. His course not only features high-quality and engaging videos, but also offers a spot for one-on-one messaging with Hopkinson for more case-specific recommendations.
Founded in early 2010, the site boasts 8,000 courses and 800,000 students as of June, has raised $16 million in funding, and partnered this summer with TechCrunch to power its online startup school, CrunchU.
For those who would rather throw video to the curb and get down to business on a simple voice chat, look no further than Clarity, a mobile app for connecting with more than 14,000 experts on a plethora of topics, all by phone.
Among many other types of professionals, the site features a wide selection of startup founders, venture capitalists, and marketing experts, all available to chat for prices that are all over the map—some experts offer their advice for free while others charge upwards of $25 per minute. The average, it seems, though, is around $3 or $4 dollars per minute to chat these folks up.
For $8.33 per minute, you can talk with TechStars co-founder Brad Feld about venture capital. Ask Couchsurfing social media manager Marian Schembari about best practices for Facebook marketing, at a rate of $4.17 per minute. Or speak with Clarity founder himself, Dan Martell, about the ins and outs of starting a technology company for an even 10 bucks per minute.
I was introduced to Clarity by colleague and seasoned startup marketer Fred Perrotta, who offers his marketing advice at $1.67 per minute on the platform. Perrotta, once an AdWords account strategist at Google, has worked with startups, including Airbnb, Lyft, and Udemy, to grow their businesses through paid advertising.
If ever I need someone’s opinion on digital advertising or marketing, Perrotta is my man. As a colleague, I can simply shoot him an email or set up a time to chat. But,those who don’t know him might have a tough time tracking him down without a tool like Clarity. That’s the beauty of this app—you can search and filter through thousands of experts, “favorite” the ones who interest you, quickly request calls, and get to chatting in no time.
The app is currently available via iPhone and iPad, and with $1.6 million in seed funding, we can only hope an Android app is on the way.
What sites do you use to get advice from micro-experts?
“Opinion pieces of this sort published on RISE Networks are those of the original authors and do not in anyway represent the thoughts, beliefs and ideas of RISE Networks.”