How we blew an interview at 500 startups

‘How will you differentiate yourself if Udemy adds Live Video Courses?’ — She asked.

To provide a little context, our startup was called for an interview at 500 startups. I represent — Qandle — an online P2P marketplace for professional education, where courses are conducted via live video calls.

Everything was going just fine, at least that’s what I think. Until they asked us the question, at the beginning. [PAUSE]

[IMPORTANT] — There are 2 important things that we do at Qandle
1. We provide courses via LIVE Video calls, meaning that learners and educators have the chance to interact with each other and conduct much higher quality sessions than just watching pre-recorded videos.
2. We have added Course Requests. You go on Qandle, request remotely any type of course and we organize it for you.

So I emphasized on course requests and how we could become Uber of education and so on and so forth. However I sensed they wanted to hear something else. Something very unique. Something that Udemy or any other giant would never want to copy. But I couldn’t name any. At that point I was worried I was failing the interview. To be fair I still kept my cool and assured them we would figure things out and that we’re not afraid of changes.

Here’s the list of additional differentiating factors that we’re currently testing by talking to bunch of people:

- Educators — Only C-level Executives at Qandle
- Educators — Only certified trainers allowed to issue a certificate
- Educators — Only active professors (Think of Child of Coursera & Udemy)
- Educators — Only vetted experts by top companies
- Educators — Focus on Local Expertise & Local Language could be differentiating point
- Learners — We could create courses only for top managers. Sort of like Executive Education.
- Course Type — We could have only project based courses that were people have a portfolio instead of a certificate at the end of the course
- Course Type — Our courses can be industry specific. (Not just marketing but Marketing for Banking or Construction business)

For some weird reason I didn’t name any of them. I don’t know why. Probably cause I do not think much about these differentiators. While I know we have to be unique in a way, I thought interactive lessons was enough.

Lesson learned: ALWAYS, ALWAYS think and stress on your uniqueness. If you cannot name why you’re unique you are not interesting. And make sure that unique value is so unique that giants of your industry know about it but are not pursuing it for some reason. But make sure that reason is not small market size and you should be good to go.

This is 2 cents from me, hope it helps. Wish y’all the founders out there the best of Luck!

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