The Online Course Hustle

This crime is unique as it can be done in plain sight. And all you need is one gullible journalist, some web space, and a way with words

First up, you write a press release and build a cheap drupal website. Both these will use largely the same copy, and use some free stock images of happy smiling blondes with laptops. You should be able to churn this out easily, if not there are thousands of things online you can copy.

The thrust is that education as it currently stands is bad, but technology (specifically your technology) will make it better. Ring up the google switchboard – you won’t get through to anyone – and then add you are in discussion with Google about the project.

If you get this right, your journalist will write an exciting front page story about this, and venture capital investors… smelling the Google $$ … will line up to hand you money. Do not keep this money – use it to hire a really good PR agency to keep the hype rolling, and hire a couple of developers to knock up some kind of cut-down Blackboard clone.

At this point issue another press release, suggesting you are about to launch, and point users to a form to sign up. You should then announce the number of students (in 100,000s) you have “enrolled). With this statistic in hand, approach investors for another round of funding and then repeat using a higher enrollment number and the amount of money you already have borrowed (“an $x million pound disruptive edtech giant”).

As launch draws near convince a couple of gullible institutions to provide free content, lecturing staff and the use of their brand. You’ll be so massive by this point they will be falling over themselves to join so be selective.

Start the courses, and keep feeding the hype. Anounce that learners can pay money for a certificate of some sort, and watch the money roll in. If you are canny, add different levels of this for various fees.

At this point, your venture investors will be smelling the low profit possibility and screaming for repayment. Borrow another round of capital to repay them.

You will be so huge by now that either Facebook, Google, Yahoo or Microsoft will want to buy you. Play them off against each other, then accept the one that offers you (personally) the best deal. Then take this money and retire to a beach somewhere, leaving only to do TED talks and advise governments.