It’s pretty difficult to talk about what you’ve got wrong. When you’ve been working on something like School of Everything very intensely for two years you can’t really blame the mistakes on anybody else. But the truth is that we need to rethink because we haven’t managed to make the idea financially sustainable yet.
Steve Blank talks about the myth of ‘first mover advantage’ and how actually many of the start-up successes of the internet age haven’t actually been first movers at all. Google didn’t invent search, Amazon didn’t invent online retail, eBay wasn’t even the first company to try to create a marketplace. They were all ‘fast followers’ who saw what other people had tried and improved on it dramatically by executing really well and finding business models that worked.
The challenge for us is that we were ‘first movers’. Nobody had tried to do what we were doing (actually much to our surprise in the early days). But we now need to be our own ‘fast followers’ as well. We need to turn on a sixpence and be able to learn from our own mistakes rather than those of other people and that’s going to be a bit painful because as we do so there are going to be quite a few “D’oh!” moments.
So I think the best policy is just honesty. We’ll be posting data about predictions that didn’t come true, metrics that never quite went in the right direction and evidence about the problems we’ve faced as well as the many successes we’ve had along the way. We have a hell of a lot of information though so if there’s something that would help you help us, just drop me an email (paul[at]schoolofeverything.com) and if I can, I’ll put it up.