You don’t just wake up an expert on how to write a crappy headline; someone has to coach you. Thanks to Panz, you are now reading this gem.
Coaching is a big business, though, and there’s a platform for it called Coach.me that’s been seeing some pickup as of late. It was founded by former Odeo engineer Tony Stubblebine and incubated by Obvious, Inc’s investment arm.
The premise is simple: you have questions for, say, a Microsoft blogger like Alex or how to be a ridiculously cool intern like Lucas, and you get to ask them a bunch of questions, because they’re designated as a “coach” in their areas of expertise. Are you an expert in something? Today might just be your day.
Coach.me has launched a new “Digital Coaching Certification” program to bring more experts onto the platform. This thing has massive earning potential (it’s a $9 billion industry) and Stubblebine has been working on it for years. I chatted with him about today’s launch.
TC: What have you learned since launching the platform a few years back?
TS: The most surprising thing is how many potential coaches are out there.
When I started working in this space in 2010, I was obsessed with gamification. Basically, I thought the computer could be your coach.
But then we saw how experts in our community were unofficially coaching other people. That people-powered support always trumped the gamified elements of our old app, Lift. (We switched from Lift to Coach.me at the beginning of 2015.)
Today’s launch is about giving more experts the opportunity to be coaches. Our ideal coach is a subject matter expert who gets basic coach training through our digital certification process.
In our original group of coaches, the subject matter experts almost always outperformed the more experienced traditional coaches.
I’m also tired of working on things that don’t have a business model. A lot of our investors made their money on eyeball businesses (Blogger, Twitter), but I’m much more comfortable working with a clear business model. Coach.me is very straightforward platform— clients pay for great coaching.
“A top coach can use our platform to scale, which means they can lower their prices. They can coach people all over the world, rather than being stuck doing face-to-face. “ Tony Stubblebine
That lets us work harder to help and to work on bigger wins. Lift was very habit focused and people tell me all the time that we helped them start flossing. But Coach.me excels at much bigger goals. We help people start new businesses, get promotions, drop pounds and run marathons. I think our business coaches can help people earn a billion dollars in extra salary.
TC: Can you talk about the coaching industry and its potential thanks to digital platforms?
TS: Coaching is the secret weapon of elite performers. Top CEOs and athletes all have top coaches. But you and I don’t have access to that level of expertise. The existing coaching industry is $9B large (much larger than I’d expect), and the top coaches are all hidden and reserved by people that are already in the elite.
Moving to digital lets us reinvent coaching with the goal that every person should have instant access to a top coach.
Online solves geography, affordability and reputation. A top coach can use our platform to scale, which means they can lower their prices. They can coach people all over the world, rather than being stuck doing face-to-face.
From the client’s perspective, online brings real trust into the purchasing decision. We rank coaches by performance which means clients always know who the top coaches are and coaches always know if they need to improve.
Put that altogether, our position is that the $9B coaching market is artificially small. People who want a coach can’t find or afford one right now, or don’t trust the ones they’re meeting.
I always take this back to our mission though, to redefine human potential. What if we all had a team of expert coaches working for us? Mozart was a prodigy in large part because his dad was a music teacher. We’re all just scratching the surface of our own potential.
TC: What are some interesting things people are getting coached on?
TS: I come from an athletic background so I was expecting most of our coaching to be in health and fitness. But business has been the big winner.
I think the ROI on business coaching is so clear.
We had a big win a month ago where a company came to us and said that they wanted to offer coaching to their entire staff. I can’t name the company, but it’s a startup we’ve all heard of.
They felt like exec coaching was backwards — you don’t get your first exec coach until it’s too late. Instead, you should start grooming people to be leaders from their first day in the office.
So we put together a training program for how to coach leadership at the staff level and rolled it out to this company. It’s kind of amazing to hear from these young leaders who are realizing for the first time that work is more than doing what you’re told. They’re taking on new responsibilities and I’m sure are on track for big promotions.
If there’s a hidden backstory to our launch of open coaching today, it’s the need for more people to coach productivity and leadership to businesses. We wondered if any other companies in our community wanted the same service and now have waiting list of 95 companies. We do not have enough coaches for all of those companies.
TC: What are some gaps in coaching (topics, skills etc) you hope to fill with your new platform?
TS: Business, sales and marketing coaches have a lot of demand right now. We always advise coaches to pick a specialty based on what they are most passionate about.
We’re also very interested to round out our athletics with coaches who have coached at the high-school level or above.
Beyond that, digital coaching is a wide open opportunity. There’s room for a lot more music coaches, diet coaches and tutors.
If your company is entering a new business vertical, hiring a few of these coaches is a great idea. Way better than spending all of your time Googling someone who’s an unknown and untested self-annointed social media douchebag, for example.
Are you a pro at something? Apply to be a certified Coach right now.