Monkfeet is a website service that offers classes in London to those looking to learn about how to grow and develop a business. Finding highly qualified instructors and offering lessons on a class by class basis, Monkfeet accommodates even the busiest of schedules.
Here’s our interview with Yasmin Desai, head of operations:
Whom is Monkfeet aimed towards?
We all have busy lives and not everyone has the ability to take off 3-6 months to take a course so our proposition is to take a class from people who have been in the same position
We cater to the people that are people who need a skill there and then. Classes are almost always in a day and so you can get quick tangible outcomes, when you need it.
How does your startup stand out against it’s competitors?
We basically compete against outdated, inflexible and expensive courses. If you go to University, a lot of classes are theory frameworks rather than practical and tangible concepts. It’s also very expensive to take these types of classes and in that respect we basically provide a platform where you can navigate through skills and purchase them when you need it.
Where did the idea for the startup come from?
Monkfeet was born in a cowering space, where we were involved with an accelerator who hosted some classes. We saw how these types of classes really enhanced the startups who attended them and enhanced their businesses no matter what stage they were in. IT was a really beneficial thing for them to have access to, and we thought that we should expand our classes and not just offer them in an accelerator but for the wider public. 100s of classes later and thousands of students were here putting together about 20 classes a month. It’s open for everyone whether you’re an employee, founder, CEO, if there’s a skill that you need as and when you need it, we’ll have it.
How do you vet your instructors?
We find out their background, experience, how long they’ve been doing work in their particular expertise. We also use recommendations by other instructors so we can narrow down quickly to people that would work well with Monkfeet.
We don’t accept just anyone and we pride ourselves on vetting instructors that are qualified, credible, and can deliver a great class.
What are your thoughts on free university lectures and other online resources? Are they competition or do they aid your cause?
There is the other side that is more flexible and sometimes free compared to our product. However, you as an individual don’t necessarily have the time to sift through the classes to figure out if the class is exactly what you need or want. If you need a platform where you want to go and you know you will get high quality then that is where Monkfeet steps in.
How did you initially raise funding for your company?
Initially the capital was raised by the founders themselves. Then we realized we could be doing something really big and we are now being funded by Angel Investors. We are looking to grow the team further and develop a better product by working incredibly closely with our instructors to enhance our platform. We want the most flexible and useful platform that is possible at an individual level.
What has been your biggest challenge so far as a startup owner?
Monkfeet’s biggest challenge is perhaps seeing so many avenues of where we think Monkfeet could get involved, but realizing we don’t have the resources to pursue all of these things at the same time. In reality, we need to reign in and make sure that what we are doing is 100% focused on our core activities. That means finding innovative ways and using different thinking to reach our goals without a full group of employees necessarily.
My biggest challenge personally has had to do with operations and recruiting specifically. I’ve met a lot of great people that could enhance our startup incredibly but its difficult to snap them up at the right time because a lot of them are already working for other startups. When you are looking to hire no one’s around, and its really difficult to find people who understand the reality of working in a startup. Small things like understanding that you need to take the reign in your own role in the company and that you’re not reporting to anyone. Its everyones job in a startup to sell your product so its difficult to get people who really understand that concept.
In the coming year, what would you like to achieve with your business?
We’re looking to work incredibly closely with our instructors to develop a product suitable for them. We want them to continue to use our platform and suggest it to their colleagues as well. This extends to students and potential customers as well.
What has been your most valuable lesson so far since starting your business?
Sometimes instructors have different outcomes of what they want in classes, and so developing a product that suits both the students and the instructor’s requirements can be tricky and sometimes you have to make a tradeoff. A particular function is not in the best interest of the students perhaps and so we have to make a decision on where we should focus our efforts in designing a class or experience. The class is completely up to the instructor as long as they fulfill requirements so the relationships they foster with students are theirs to shape.
Finally, If you could give one piece of advice to someone thinking about starting a business, what would it be?
Get the experience as early as you can. Its okay to not know what you want to do, but no matter what age you are people are looking for help so you should go out and try to offer your help. You should try and understand what works best in a startup environment. My biggest takeaway is that in smaller teams, the best thing to have is someone who can take part of the business and say “I’ve got this” and do it and own it. Taking the worry away from someone else is a really massive thing for them. To know that someone has it and no one needs to have their hand held is good because it creates their own role. There is no such thing as “that’s not in my job requirement”, you are the driving force of your startup.