Elevator Pitch is a regular feature on Lifehacker where we profile startups and new companies and pick their brains for entrepreneurial advice. This week, we're talking with Jonathan Plowright, CEO of hospitality training platform Typsy.
In 128 words or less, explain your business idea
Typsy is a hospitality training platform that allows users to access world-class courses or create their own educational content for staff.
Imagine you started working at a cafe today and had little experience making coffee: your manager gives you quick run down on the machine and how to make a few coffees, but you go home worried sick that the next day you'll be thrown in the deep end.
With Typsy, in seconds your new manager could have scheduled a bunch of engaging world-class barista video lessons for you to watch on the bus ride home to help build and support your knowledge and confidence.
Typsy is about helping hospitality staff access the best training in the world to help build their skills and provide employers with a smarter way to train and upskill staff.
We search for the world's best hospitality experts, film them on location sharing their skills as part of an online course and make that course available in a user-friendly app. Hospitality staff and students across the world can earn skills credits, do fun quizzes and earn certificates watching these courses. Venue managers and owners can also upload custom content specific to their venue and easily schedule and track training.
Better training doesn't just prevent a burnt coffee, it helps hospitality businesses flourish.
What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?
Whilst our ideal scenario would have been to fund our growth through sales revenue...we wanted to build some game changing technology and a huge video library...which of course costs money! Fortunately we were able to gain the support of some great private investors who saw the potential in typsy well before the product was ready for paying customers. Whilst it sounds crazy we raised our first million dollars with a business plan on the back of a napkin and where able to run pretty fast. Now that we have a great product our growth is sales driven. We've recently had the worlds top hotel school join Typsy and every day new brands join and make the typsy community stronger. We started the business with a'global from day one' mindset so our stategies are now around growing out a global sales footprint.
What’s the biggest challenge facing your business?
Remaining bold (yet clever) and making sure our whole team continues to grow and evolve as we tackle challenges that this business brings to the table every day.
How do you differentiate your business from your competitors?
Lots of training is plain boring. In a digital age, we know old school training just isn't good enough to compete for the attention span of oldies like me, let alone millennials who are used to consuming far more interesting content. This is particularly important, considering two thirds of hospitality workers are under the age of 25.
Typsy differentiates from other training methods in lots of ways but the two key factors are our content and our technology and product features. We exist solely for the hospitality industry, meaning our product is tailored for the unique needs of hospitality employees and operators. The focus we have on our key market means we can build the best features and content specific to the hospitality industry.
What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?
Slack...although I have become a little addicted to checking my phone so my wife would make a compelling case that it's a piece of tech I'd be better off without!
What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received?
Keep going and stay focused.