This has been an absolutely extraordinary year for us here at Virtually.
When I started Virtually back in March of 2019, I had absolute conviction that remote education was the future. It just seemed obvious.
If you could remove geography as a barrier to learning, you could make education 10x more accessible and 100x more affordable.
At the time Zoom was getting its stride and fully-remote, live learning programs like Lambda School, Building a Second Brain, and Flockjay were taking off.
The time to build a new EdTech company to support these types of programs was now. Or so I thought.
The first year of running the business was a grind.
Nothing was working. We had to beg our early customers to use the product, we had barely any revenue, and growth was non-existent.
And then COVID-19 hit.
Suddenly, Zoom wasn't just the best way to teach/learn online... It was the only way.
For the first time, we felt the pull of the market. Early customers and online schools started adopting what I had built.
Demand got to a point where I couldn't handle it myself, so I hired my first engineer.
The traction we had gotten at that point was enough to land us a seat in Y Combinator's first ever remote cohort. I've already shared my experience going through YC on numerous occasions, so I won't talk about it too much here except that it was life changing in every sense of the word.
Just three days before YC's legendary demo day, we closed a $1.75 M seed round led by Tiger Global along-side some truly amazing angel investors. Thank you all for your support thus far!
Coming out of YC was a difficult time for us. We realized that we were so focused on short-term growth throughout the summer that we had accumulated a serious technical debt problem.
Our product was just too fragile to use. We felt the pain when we saw our first few customers churn.
We responded the only way we could: by putting our heads down and cleaning up.
Despite these setbacks, our traction kept building, so I got to work hiring what is now our rockstar product team.
It took us a bit of time but we got there. And those first customers that we saw churn… well, they came back to us :)
Now, as we close out the year, we see a golden opportunity for us.
We have the opportunity to become for bootcamps, accelerators, and content creators what Canvas and Blackboard became for K-12 and Universities.
An LMS (Learning Management System) for the next generation of institutions. Online, cohort-based programs.
I recently published a mission statement where I share more on where I think we’re headed, but I’ll summarize a bit here:
There’s a big shift in education happening right now. Where before, a university degree was all the training you needed… industry, today, requires you to constantly learn new skills.
One four-year degree isn’t enough education for the entirety of your career.
Grad schools, particularly, seem to be losing their monopoly when it comes to retraining. Individuals can now learn in a multitude of ways:
And we’re just at the beginning. More and more programs like these are emerging every single day. But they lack the tooling they need to scale in a fully-remote environment.
You can’t be an educational institution AND a tech company. As we’ve seen first-hand, this just doesn’t work out.
Virtually is the solution. We take care of the heavy lifting when it comes to running an online education program like payments, live classes, and content delivery so that online schools can focus on what matters most: their students and core business.
Some quick stats for this past year:
Here’s to reshaping the future of education…
Founder & CEO, Virtually
Ish is the Founder & CEO of Virtually (YC S20).