Studeous: Conversation with Jefferson West

Created: Tuesday, July 29, 2008, posted by Geetesh Bajaj at 9:27 am



Jefferson WestJefferson West is a co-founder and the CEO of Studeous. Jeff is responsible for the marketing, public relations, and strategy at Studeous. Often traveling between schools and the company headquarters in Austin, Texas; Jeff is frequently in discussions with teachers, administrators, and students to get timely feedback from the people who use Studeous.

Geetesh: Tell us more about Studeous, and how this evolved.

Jefferson: Currently, teachers and administrators would agree that many Learning Management Systems are behind the technology curve. These systems, though often poorly designed, are somehow extremely over-priced. Schools all over are having to dish out large sums of money in an attempt to keep up with technology and connect their schools on the internet. Unfortunately, these solutions are not working. They are too complicated and confusing for the teachers to effectively use and thus provide little academic benefit to the students.

Enter Studeous, a simple, easy to use, and most importantly, free way for teachers to organize their courses online. We make it so simple for teachers and students to stay connected long after the bell rings. Studeous is a hosted solution, so teachers don’t have to worry about buying their own servers and there is no download. If a teacher wants great e-learning tools—he/she has them in a heartbeat. And, it requires no training.

This solves the teacher and students pain, but how does this “connect a school”? And why is this good for institutions? Administrators get free access to Studeous as well. We have three levels—Bronze, Silver, and Gold. Bronze is free and allows administrators to moderate the content in their school’s Studeous portal. They can edit bad content, suspend students from using Studeous, post announcements on the home page, etc. Administrators then have the option to upgrade to Silver or Gold for a small fraction of the cost of standard LMSes. With Silver and Gold they can do even more useful things like send out mass messages to all teachers or all students. They also have the option to brand their school’s portal to the school colors.

The ease of use ensures that the average teacher will be able to use great e-learning tools and the advanced administrator controls starting at just $649 per school per year, ensures that virtually every school will be able to afford it. With this, we hope to make e-learning a commodity.

We have essentially created a web-based LMS that requires no training, no sales force, and minimal marketing–allowing us to put up to 100% of sales revenue back into the product itself, unlike the other enterprise e-learning companies. This allows us to continue to make Studeous better and better. Which is great for the teachers, administrators, and students of Studeous.

Geetesh: What types of files can teachers and students share with each other on Studeous? Also, is there anything I can do with PowerPoint files?

Jefferson: Teachers can share any files. We give teachers the ability to upload files to their class pages that can be downloaded by students. And we let students send teachers files by putting them in the Studeous “Dropbox.” PowerPoint files can be easily shared with Studeous. A great feature for students is our “Study Groups” feature that gives students a space to collaborate and exchange files so they are not emailing them back and forth all the time. This is a great time saver. They even get their own personal “Locker” (for students) and “Desk” (for teachers) that lets them upload personal files to store on Studeous. Say good-bye to the thumb drive! These files can be made private for personal use or public for sharing. Studeous is everything you need in one place.

Geetesh: What’s your revenue model? And will Studeous always be a free product?

Jefferson: Studeous makes money by selling administrator controls to school administrators which allows them to moderate content and communicate with their teachers and students. This is our only source of revenue now, as we are more concerned with getting users on Studeous, then with making money. But, down the road, we have devised many unique and effective ways to monetize Studeous, without just advertising.

With that in mind, Studeous will always be free. Free for teachers, free for students, and free for administrators (with the option of upgrading for a cost).

Categories: education, interviews, powerpoint

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