2018 Year in Review: Terawatt Founder’s Top 5 Takeaways
My name is Francie Jain, and I am the Founder of Terawatt (formerly Nxt-chptr.com). I created a platform that makes it easier and more affordable to access the wisdom of talented coaches via live group classes. My mission is to support adults facing all kinds of career and personal change by democratizing the transformative results of coaching.
Like any expert, the most talented coaches have high rates to rationalize their time and adjust for the supply/demand of their wisdom. This means that traditionally coaching was accessed by the most affluent people. But, what about the rest of us? Shouldn’t we all have the ability to find the support we need at critical junctures? Terawatt coaching courses range in price from under $20 to several hundreds of dollars, depending on the depth of instruction, size of class, and length of time.
To further support each person’s individual needs, we use a marketplace business model, similar to Etsy or Airbnb. The marketplace is important because it allows the coaches to teach how they want. Terawatt doesn’t opine on cost, size, or any other aspect of the class. This gives the coaches, once vetted, the freedom they need to be the best coach they can be. And it allows students to pick the best coach for them. Our goal is to be a matchmaker to coaches and students and then get out of the way.
NXT-CHPTR – The Evolution
I am often asked how I came up with the idea of live group coaching, and it stems from my focus on making change affordable and easy. I wanted to share with you the process. My belief is that the more we are open about the struggles we face, the more we can act as a community to help each other achieve our goals. Maybe this article helps you with a problem you are working on? Maybe it reminds you that you aren’t alone?
When I first launched Terawatt, the website’s offering was a membership helping women return to the workforce. (By focusing on this one segment, I was aiming to start with a Minimum Viable Product, although in retrospect it may have actually been a Minimum Viable Audience.) As I was speaking to coaches about adding group courses to keep costs low, I realized that this new feature–live group coaching–could actually be the entire website. I realized I could help a LOT more people by evolving Terawatt into a matchmaker of sorts by providing a platform to match coaching classes with adult students.
I spent the last year making tons of big and small changes to the company and, along with a bunch of experts and advisors, I have been focused on making Terawatt’s live group classes WORK in every sense of the word.
- Are you in need of confidently expressing your work history?
- Are you struggling to let go of past events?
- Do you want to make a career change?
- Maybe you’re in the midst of a life transition and want help being seen and heard?
- Are you a manager who wants to learn the best practices for conscious leadership?
No matter what your goals are, we hope that you will use Nxt-Chptr.com to make the changes you are dreaming of. Every week we are adding new coaches and classes, helping you move forward in your career, life, and relationships. If you would like to receive our weekly newsletter, please sign up here.
When we launched Founder Profiles, the plan was to create an interesting and easy way to create “content” which is so important to driving traffic to the website. In the first season (Sept-June), we published 30 profiles of accomplished, thoughtful, and creative female for-profit and non-profit founders. In the second season, we are on target to publish 35 profiles. We interview these founders, not because we expect everyone to start a business, but because we hope that the founders’ successes and challenges inspire solutions to problems in your life.
I was interviewing and editing these interviews for you, but they ended up being a huge inspiration to me. (Funny how that works, right?) As I was working through the business model evolution this past year, five interviews stood out to me as particularly influential this past year. I wanted to share my thinking with you.
1. Katherine Chambers
Katherine Chambers, CEO & Co-Founder of The Right Place, spoke about her pitch in answering the question, “What obstacles did you face in getting started and thinking of yourself as an expert in a new setting?”
“For the first two years, I felt like such an outsider and expected to be questioned more, but it was not at all the case. It was almost as if not being an expert was actually quite valuable. Our pitch was, “Hey listen, we’ve seen how it works over here in these other industries, we want to take that same model, apply it to you but with all the sensitivities and parameters that are important to handling health care information.'”
I’m always interested in hearing entrepreneurs’ growth and how they have overcome Imposter Syndrome. The blessing and the curse as an entrepreneur are that you are the first to create this thing–whatever it is. There are no answers or “have to’s” nor does any one skill set cover everything you need to know and do. In owning that role, Katherine was able to create immediate trust.
2. Nicole Martinez
Nicole Martinez’s entrepreneurship prowess blew me away. She created her own website for her microblading business and then realized there was a huge market for businesses looking to buy an affordable web template. So, she started selling her web designs for beauty-based businesses, and it took off. This was her answer to the start-off question of “What is your business?”
“After I launched [my microblading website], a lot of people started asking me for website design work who were also in the beauty business. So building on that interest, I decided to create another business offering my template to similar businesses. I figured it would be a way to help people get the same look and layout but at a more affordable price. And then I started to get a lot of requests for more website help. Now, You’re Almost There helps clients with templates, branding, and website design both through working with me directly and live webinars.”
This was the first time I started to think about how a pivot may actually be the better business. It led me to think about how committing to a sector brings you far more knowledge than you ever would have acquired just by researching and interviewing. And the magical part is that you are able to find solutions to problems others resignedly accept as “part of the process” or “the cost of doing business.”
3. Pavana Jain
I hadn’t thought too much about the universality of a really good pivot until I spoke to Pavana Jain, Chairman, CEO & Co-Founder of SHIFTMobility. In response to, “What made you decide to start your business and/or switch careers?” Pavana said:
“In 2014 we decided to invest in several repair shops with the aim of advancing vehicle repair technology. We quickly realized that two of the major hurdles facing repair shops, including ours, was locating the correct parts information and streamlining the time it took to quote a job. We started to brainstorm about how we could shorten both the quoted time and the time it took to deliver a repaired car.”
By being an owner of an auto repair shop and also with a background in technology, Pavana envisioned efficiency gains using technological innovations. With SHIFTMobility, she was able to effectively use Blockchain to keep an indelible record of the life of a car (repairs, ownership, parts used, etc). This reminded me a lot of my previous work in alternative investing where it is universally acknowledged that in order to start tracking a new investment, you have to buy a little.
4. Fran Maier
When I interviewed Fran Maier, CEO & Founder of BabyQuip, her perspective on marketplaces resonated so much with me. This was her answer to, “What made you decide to start your business?”
“I started to become intrigued by businesses in collaborative and sharing economies and also this whole new way that people were traveling. With my Airbnb rentals, I knew that my listings could have much more demand if I had a crib or a high chair at the house, but I didn’t want to invest in them or have to store them. So when I happened to meet this gal in Santa Fe who had recently started a baby gear rental business, I immediately saw the potential combining all of these areas that had been percolating in my head.”
I too want to help people do more with their businesses. For me, and I think Fran Maier too, the marketplace is one of these wonderful triple win situations where we can all be better off. It is incredibly cool to provide another revenue stream for coaches and to help people more affordably connect to coaches. In Fran’s case, she felt that the key to her business was extending insurance coverage to her partners who supply the baby gear. Similarly, one of the things we are working on is providing teaching best practices and support for Terawatt coaches.
5. Erin Levine
I once heard someone say that all businesses, in the end, are marketing businesses. As consumers, we freely acknowledge that changing our behaviors is hard –just look at the whole troupe of failed new year’s resolutions. But, as a business owner, helping people change their habits is the holy grail and, really, a necessity when you have a new product. I paid very close attention when Erin Levine, CEO & Founder of Hello Divorce answered the question, “Have there ever been moments when you regretted what you started or had to abandon part of the plan?”
“I think what I’ve learned is that expertise is very important, but on a website, it’s really about how people feel when they come to your site. If they don’t feel good, if they’re not inspired, if they can’t access what it is they’re looking for, then they’re going to leave faster than they got on. So we had to shift our entire mindset to communicate that we understand the person coming to our website rather than promoting our expertise. Even if they don’t need it just knowing we’re there and we can follow along with this journey. And so that’s where we shift things pretty dramatically. And our beginning traffic is up 66% in the last six months. It’s certainly made a difference that’s for sure.”
Of all the things I learned this year, this may have been the biggest lesson: Understanding how to connect to people’s feelings rather than sell your product. In my previous role in alternative investments, I knew this well—sales were about relationships and understanding needs. But when building a website, I had to hear it again from someone more skilled.
Thank you for being a part of Terawatt’s journey and growth–and for making it to the end of this note! We’re looking forward to another year of change and growth, and we hope you will join us.
Upward and onward,