Why Brit + Co wants to help women create companies to grow its own consumer revenue

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Publisher-offered online classes are becoming popular methods for media brands to capitalize on their expertise while driving consumer revenue, but during the pandemic, Brit + Co took that business a step further by creating an educational course for female entrepreneurs that promises to help them build a business.

The new course, called Selfmade, is a 10-week-long program that includes weekly hour-long online classes with famous female entrepreneurs like Gwyneth Paltrow, founder of Goop, and Melissa Bernstein, the CEO of toy company Melissa & Doug. The price tag to participate is a hefty one at $2,000, which participants can pay at once, or in three- to six-month installments.

Students also receive individual coaching sessions and access to small groups where attendees can brainstorm ideas. Throughout the 10 weeks, the entrepreneurs are taught skills that range from how to construct a business plan to how to pitch investors. In the end, they are given a Shark Tank-like platform to compete for one of three grants between $500 and $5,000 that are funded by Brit + Co itself.

Brit + Co’s ethos to support women with education centers around its 130 on-demand courses, said founder and CEO Brit Morin.

In 2019, those classes made up about 10% of the company’s overall revenue, she said. With the addition of Selfmade, which launched last summer amid the pandemic, Morin said the education business is now projected to contribute around 33% of the company’s overall revenue.

Compared to the on-demand classes that Brit + Co offers on its site — ranging from Investing 101 to Cake Decorating — this program is about 10 times more costly than the most expensive course, The Money School, which is priced at $199. The average cost for the company’s classes is $30, or are included in an all-access pass (not including Selfmade) for $10 per month.

Selfmade, however, promises attendees that the skills it teaches will turn to profit by the course’s end.

“We’ve done breadth and shallow, but this is narrow and deep. It still hinges on the same mission, which is to push women out of their comfort zone and teach them to how to do things on their own,” said Morin.

While Selfmade is designed for consumers, brands approached Morin to advertise around the program — which wasn’t something Morin said she had initially considered.

Morin said she intends to keep any partnerships agnostic to the course content itself. Office Depot and H&R Block’s tax advisory division Block Advisors, as examples, help sponsor participants who can not afford the registration fee with scholarships as well as offering discounts to participants for their goods and services.

Ava Seave, a principal at media consulting agency Quantum Media, said that by not depending on advertisers for monetization, Brit + Co doesn’t worry about scale. Instead, it can control costs and revenues without increasing the course’s cost, thereby making it less accessible.

It wasn’t clear how much Office Depot and Block Advisors paid to advertise, but the messaging by associating with such material could be a win. Or, as Seave explained, to “get some positive vibes and good will from people in the course,” and to keep them out of the creative strategy, she said.

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The first iteration of Selfmade was capped at 150 people, as an experiment. The second course this winter grew to over 300 people. The third is expected to attract 500 to 1,000 participants.

The idea for Selfmade was born out of the demand Morin said she was seeing in the online education space as well as the economy at large.

For two weeks after the start of the pandemic, all of the on-demand classes were free to readers. That free trial period attracted 500,000 participants, which indicated a strong interest in learning last year, Morin said. But there was also a segment of women in the U.S. that Morin said she felt she needed to help support during the pandemic.

“We started to see how women were being disproportionately affected by layoffs, furloughed and being forced out of work to take care of their kids,” she said. In December, U.S. women lost 156,000 jobs, accounting for all the job losses that month, while men gained 16,000 jobs, according to CNN.

“I knew I could help these women make money if they wanted to learn how to start their own business,” Morin added.

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