Taras Hakavchyn has been involved in educational activities and project management for about 10 years. Last year while talking with colleagues he noticed that in the IT market in Ukraine there is a problem of finding qualified personnel. Candidates do not fit the job description or are very difficult to find. Later, these problems became the main idea behind the creation of a LearningPath startup. Read more about why pre-accelerator programs are important, how to turn an idea into a business, and how to motivate users.
In the spring of 2018, I met with two friends who have been involved in software development for over 10 years. While discussing the work, we came to the conclusion that there is a huge IT labor market in Ukraine that is growing at a rapid pace every year. However, the workforce is constantly lost somewhere. My colleagues suggested creating a training system that would help users keep track of their learning progress. I had a different case – I have been involved in project management in the city council for a long time and many of my friends tried to move into IT. They completed various courses, tried to find a job somewhere, but they did not succeed at the first time. So we decided to combine our ideas and create a LearningPath project.
LearningPath.io is a platform that helps people get the skills they need to successfully pass interview with the company. The site already has a variety of vacancies, a library of resources, mentoring support and a clever algorithm for personalized learning.
In the summer of 2018, with a ready concept, we decided to apply for the UCU’s Center for Entrepreneurship pre-accelerator program to “grind” the idea to a specific product. More so, business is the kind of thing that comes with experience. So we decided to use someone else’s experience instead of making mistakes ourselves.
In August and September last year, our team was selected for pre-accelerator training and received mentoring support. Subsequently, the most interesting thing began – the training. We studied who our clients were, analyzed what their needs and concerns were, recorded the Service Design interview.
In total, I have conducted over 20 interviews with people from various fields who plan to change their jobs: students, developers, bank employees, system administrators. I also daily wrote tons of emails to companies requesting job descriptions so we could search for the specialists needed. It was these conversations and letters that allowed us to “grind” the idea and determine the target audience of Learning Path.
How to prepare for the pre-accelerator program
First of all, you should think very carefully about your own idea. Why is it so important? During one of the trips to Israel, organized by UCU Center for Entrepreneurship, we were told that the idea itself was worthless without implementation. Before the pre-accelerator program, we checked whether the job search and employees were someone’s pain and whether it was converted into money. In fact, often startups come up with a problem and think that someone will need it to be solved. Therefore, validating an idea is one of the most important components of launching a successful startup.
We are not another place for finding a job. Our message is: go to the site, show the skills (mostly hard skills) and view the vacancies that suit you. Our main difference from the others is that we help pull up the skills for a particular job. Because when a developer only submits a CV, it’s often not clear what he or she can do or what languages speak. For example, he has been working in Back-end development for 5 years, although a minimum of Front-end knowledge is also required for the job. Therefore, there will be a short skills test on our platform that will be accessible to users and employers.
We try to do magic so that everything is automated. We will not manually search for people like other agencies and will not conduct interviews. Everything is designed to help you to find a job as fast as possible and to improve your technical skills online.
Motivation for users
Our platform is exclusively in English because we want to be global. In addition, almost all training will also be conducted in English, without which the door to the IT sphere is closed. It is also the first threshold of entry into our site for those people who are bad at it.
Jobseekers and employers can register on the site. For the latter our services will be chargeable.
We have a skill goals button that shows the user what skills he or she lacks and where to learn them. This is good motivation for those who are just starting out in the IT industry. The user will choose himself whether to watch YouTube lessons for two hours a day or Cloud Academy. There are also mentors on our platform to help users reach their goals and get the job they want. So far, their services are free.
Our platform is absolutely free for users. We will make money from companies which we will help to find the employees they need. Now, for example, there are a lot of chats in Telegram and Facebook, where people offer candidates for a position for some money. Companies also have a culture where the employee is paid extra for helping them find a person for a job. This is where Learning Path will come to replace these phenomena.
Involving a team in the startup
We have a certain resource of strength, because my partners, the co-founders of Learning Path, pay market salaries and have no problems finding people. So far, we have only spending, but we actively involve companies and job seeker in cooperation. We have already registered more than 100 users and several IT companies.
It is not that difficult to find an investor for startup with a business idea ready to launch. However, to do this, you need to have the finished product and the first money earned from it. It is worth mentioning here about networking, which helps not only find investors but also showcase your project in markets in other countries.
During the same trip to Israel we met with investors who said, – Go Global or Die. In fact, there is a market in Ukraine and it is quite large. According to recent statistics, more than 160,000 people are currently employed in the IT industry. Experts also predict that the market will increase by 100,000 people by 2023. Here is where to grow and develop. In parallel, we follow the US market and find there projects similar to ours that are quite successful. We are now actively disseminating information about ourselves on various platforms, universities, companies and among our acquaintances. Because, apart from advertising on Facebook, till your friends don’t advise you on a particular company, you won’t feel 100% trust in it. And today, trust is a separate, most expensive product.
Now LearningPath is focused solely on the IT industry, but if we manage to gain a foothold in Ukraine, then we plan to reach out to related industries.