All through the years of working as a banker, blogger, and co-founder of a startup, what stuck most with Vincent Edigin was his photography and video recording business. So it was not surprising he had an epiphany during one of his photography jobs.
While recording a video that a producer of shoes with Ankara prints planned to send to a student living far away, he had an idea, which he went all out to turn into a business. And that marked the birth of Traindemy, an edtech platform for learning vocational skills.
Sometime in 2014, the Nigerian government ordered that entrepreneurship studies should be made compulsory in all tertiary institutions. This was mainly aimed at reducing unemployment among youths and encouraging self-reliance after undergraduate studies.
Being in a clime where employment is not guaranteed, a viable alternative should be put in place. Considering this, the directive was quite understandable. Although there already exists specialised schools -- technical schools and polytechnics -- where similar skills are learned, Traindemy brings training for technical and vocational skills online.
"Traindemy helps people acquire in-demand vocational and technical skills online and offline so they become employable or self-employed. We curate the best from vocational and technical schools as well as master craftsmen," Edigin, CEO Traindemy states.
An inclusive training platform
With a team that includes a web developer, photographer, and brand marketing expert as co-founders, Traindemy provides access to training through its mobile app, website, as well as offline to achieve inclusiveness.
"We like to start with secondary school students, university students, and then fresh graduates because the key to mastery is starting early. But the working population isn't left out; they need a side hustle,” explains Edigin.
Also part of this plan is a provision for the less privileged and the disadvantaged in the society.
“We call it Gift-a-Course. Here, donors can pay for courses for personal beneficiaries or less privileged groups,” he says.
Essentially, Traindemy's content covers categories such as art and craft, agriculture, engineering, and technology.
When a potential user logs in via the website or mobile application, there is an array of vocational courses to pick from. To ease their choices, each one has a demo video attached to it. Apart from this, users are allowed to view a free introductory lesson after which they are expected to do a premium subscription for the selected course if they are to get the full curriculum. Some of the courses cost as little as ₦2,000 ($5.51) or as much as ₦10,000 ($27.55) and above, depending on the duration and complexity of the skill.
Product offering and other prospects
Along with master craftsmen, Traindemy partners with technical schools that have a structured curriculum. These trainers are screened after registering and physical inspection is done on their training sites before onboarding them on the platform. As against what is obtainable on free platforms, the trainers would have to agree to permit on-site practicals and also issue certificates at the end of the training period.
Edigin says there are currently 28 technical schools and 7 craftsmen giving out content to users of Traindemy.
Depending on the agreement and uniqueness of the contract, he mentions that the startup takes between 30 and 40% on all the platform's paid subscriptions. According to the founder, this is quite sustainable given that the business has already made $6,000 in revenue, half of which was made during their pilot project in August 2018.
Before it started making revenue, funding was through bootstrapping. Afterward, Traindemy made it into the third cohort of Injini EdTech Accelerator programme in 2018 which gave it access to some grants. As of January 2020, Traindemy has a user strength of 1,150, 450 of which are presently undergoing at least one training on the platform.
Edigin and his team plan to convert existing and new users to active subscribers by including new features on the platform.
For instance, the Traindemy Workshops feature which is still running in the beta phase. This feature allows users, who have already acquired a skill through a different channel, to access tools and equipment for practise. The user finds a nearby workshop through the website and pays a daily charge to use their tools.
In addition, the startup also intends to organise paid boot camps or summer camps, which will only run for a few weeks, where people can quickly come and get trained offline.
Subsequently, Traindemy team plans to include an option for getting access to internships and short-term funds to set up a business after users have gotten certification in their training.
Because Traindemy is particular about giving the best content, it is sometimes faced with the challenge of getting the right trainers. To overcome this, the business is looking to forge more productive partnerships with renowned and reputable vocational institutions and craftsmen.
Furthermore, in order to get the best quality of training videos outside what trainers bring, the startup needs a recording studio.
"We need a dedicated studio for rapid content creation independent of school calendars," Edigin notes.
A supportive terrain
Edigin is certain that with the growing level of Internet and mobile phone penetration in Nigeria, coupled with the government's keenness on skills acquisition from years back, the startup has a relatively good environment in which it can thrive.
Ultimately, he believes in ten years, Traindemy’s goal to be one of the top three edtech solutions in Africa is achievable considering its current progress.