Insights | Podcasts

BC Startup Sales Podcast – Selling Software In Education with Zach Sims (Codecademy)

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Michael Brown | April 27, 2020

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This week, the Bowery Capital team hosted Zach Sims, Bowery Capital Venture Partner and CEO of Codecademy, to discuss “Selling Software In Education.” Codecademy is a New York, NY based education software company focused on teaching the world how to code. The company is committed to building the best learning experience inside and out to ultimately create the online learning experience of the future.

Zach Sims is the CEO and Co-Founder of Codecademy, helping people advance their careers by teaching highly sought after technical skills. On top of that, Zach is also a Bowery Capital Venture Partner. Prior to Codecademy, Sims worked at .406 Ventures, GroupMe, AOL Ventures, and in various roles, including consulting and business development. Zach graduated from Columbia University with a degree in Political Science.

When you think about sales in specific industries, selling software in education is probably one of the more challenging industries. Buyer inertia is real, pricing is always very unique to the ICP, competition is fierce, and the fragmentation especially in the K-12 market is enormous. Zach knows a thing or two about the topic having grown a freemium product to 40MM users with hundreds of thousands of people using the product daily. He’s sold into K-12, Corporations, Governments, and other areas of education. We kicked off the podcast talking about Zach’s background and how he was able to get the idea for Codecademy. We also spent a bit of time talking through the launch of the product. From there, we dug in around how Codecademy sells their product today and how specifically they feel about software sales in education overall. Zach had a good comparison around this ICP (hint: it’s like a gym membership) and why it really is so challenging to build a big business in the space specifically because of the ICP. We then moved on to some of the assumptions the Codecademy team made that turned out to be right or wrong relative to their start. Third, we covered some of the models in market today such as free, freemium, inside or outside sales driven and what tends to work and what does not. We then played a bit of round robin and talked through the many sub categories of the industry and what Zach thinks about success or failure when thinking through selling software in education. We close with some philosophy about why the space has not seen a ton of success beyond the legacy LMS players (i.e. Skillsoft, Cornerstone OnDemand) and then some new entrants in the content space (2U, Lynda). Zach closes with some final tips and tricks around software sales in education. Overall it was an informative and educational podcast!

If you liked “Selling Software In Education” and want to read more content from the Bowery Capital Team, check out other relevant posts from the Bowery Capital Blog. If you haven’t already, subscribe to the podcast to get all our new content each week!

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