There are millions of professionals, coaches, instructors, trainers, artists and experts who want to let go of their 9 to 5 grind and start something of their own. People have an idea about what they want to do but most struggle with how to get started let alone build a business around that Idea. Praful Chatrapati is one passionate entrepreneur who is on a mission to coach the next million entrepreneurs how to start their own startups, scale them, get investments and grow their businesses further. With over 2 decades of hands-on experience & an astute business acumen, Praful Chatrapati has been a founder, business owner, and is now a coach as well.
Feted by Economic Times recently for being the recipient of the highest Series A funding from SIDBI Venture, Govt. of India for the year 2017, was also awarded as Smart CEO in 2019 and also recognized by IDBI banks as the fastest growing Start-up, Praful’s courses at Enterpreneurin90days cover key topics important for any entrepreneur to learn from such as the idea & market validation, team building, process & workflow, business & finance models, investor pitches, alliances & finding the right co-founders, etc.
Inspired by Praful’s online course success, we reached out to him to get an insider’s look at what he’s been doing that make his courses a hit.
Watch the replay of his live webinar with Kinner N Sacchdev, co-founder, Knorish: The no-fail approach to get loyal customers & not just ‘buyers’
Empowering thousands with his online courses, Praful Chatrapati is the young turk to watch out for
When Praful got the idea to build his online courses, he was already a great success in his field with 25 years of experience comprising his journey from an Executive to National Head to Founder CEO of a very successful startup. He had successfully raised over $4 Million in funding across funding stages and had successfully built and scaled 3 startups in 10 years. Like many in the Knorish community, Praful was also looking for ways to increase his outreach to share his knowledge and expertise with a growing audience. That's when he chose online courses as the medium to deliver his expertise to the thousands of aspiring entrepreneurs that wanted to learn the art of scaling a business.
“It was coming from my own experience and journey that really got me thinking how can I help other starting entrepreneurs & leverage my time–instead of doing this one-on-one, I can do it en mass and basically create a passive revenue stream in the process,” Praful weighed in on his options.
Online courses have helped him offer a cost-effective solution for those who had still not made up their mind fully or were testing waters before buying in on what he was about to share. The academy offers free weekly webinars and masterclasses that allow him to go live with his audience each week and share his knowledge. These free events enable the business to capture leads that are highly interested in the topic. These leads are then shown ads for the paid courses that talk about the topic in detail.
The recipe for success
The key to success for the online course business has been the free high value content that is shared by the academy. The key piece is the Live 90 Mins Master Class called 'Master Plan To Be An Entrepreneur'. The 90 minutes Masterclass answers all the questions the clients might have before they set out to craft their entrepreneurship journey. Praful understood the key pain point of his audience and the challenges that most aspiring entrepreneurs face when they are planning to start a business and that's exactly what is covered in this masterclass. The masterclass talks about:
- How to transform your skills into a product
- How to plan a safe exit from one's job and get started
- The transformation kit to start entrepreneurship
- Advance business tools and strategies
- Select templates that turn an idea into the business model
The key idea behind such a detailed Free Masterclass is to give a lot of high value content to the audience that really engages them and offers a lot of valuable learning in one class.
“It really is our choice to decide on what is the best way to deliver maximum value in each session”, Praful told us. He then gave us the example of an entrepreneur's growth that shows how he champions the holistic model when he runs his 90-day entrepreneurship programs. “ One of the very important aspects that I want aspiring entrepreneurs to know is that they’re to be there to take overall responsibility for their ventures and prepare accordingly.” So I have this attention to detail paid to planning their journey even before it begins.
He suggests that the best way to create the lessons was to keep them engaging & interactive. But most importantly, it was to make them really value-driven.
Why free live masterclasses?
Free Content + Live Webinar = Lead Generation + Better ROAS + Faster Sales
- A well thought strategy
With a free live course, while learners preview the courses, creators too stand to gain insights into their audiences’ mindset, validate their niche, subject, format & delivery modes. With that, creators would be able to maintain their brand image and offer something that is a natural extension of their brand i.e. sharing their knowledge and expertise.
- Lead Generation Via Sales Funnel
With free high value content on offer, those interested throng to learn more. All these learners are hot leads for your paid courses, paid webinars, and other digital products. Why? Because of the higher intent, very high interest in the topic and trust in your brand!
- Better Returns on Ad Spends
When you run ads on free high value content, larger number of users sign up. Simply, because the content is free. This allows your business to capture more and better qualified leads at cheaper costs.
How to build Sales Funnels that work for you and sell your courses
With Praful being an expert marketer, we were excited to ask him about some of the marketing and business development strategies he follows for his courses. Here are a few of the tips he shared with us for other course creators in order to help them with selling their courses successfully:
1. Find the mediums that play to your strengths and use them
“For an online course creator, marketer and an entrepreneur, there are various ways to promote your online course. But it really pays to know where your strength lies”, says Praful. “I personally preferred Facebook & Instagram & put all my time and energy into [our strengths] and utilized what it had to offer us in terms of driving traffic [of thousand of leads] to my webinars.”
2. Build relationships - Offer FREE HIGH VALUE CONTENT
When it comes to building customer relationships, depth over width is always better. Praful insists on building long-term relationships with his audience. So always stay true to your niche, and that will get you everything you need of them. In fact, your learners will become your brand ambassadors who will promote you amongst their circle.
So, how does Praful build relationships? He recommends engaging the audience and connecting with them through ‘free courses/webinars'. It’s like giving people an "Idea to Scale". To give them enough indication of what they get to learn from your years of wide experience, expertise, and knowledge.
"Once I have the audience signing in, I can depend upon their intent & interest enough to run Retargeting ads, setup automated reminder emails depending upon their intent & interest for them to enter my Sales Funnel" says Praful.
3. Get people to click on your Call-to-Actions
You must make your page content and copy enticing enough for the users to click on your ad, read and take notice of it. This opens another prospect of having analytics run as to see which copy or ad creative is working well for your site’s promo & from the content point of view. For example, my detailed landing page is driving people to sign up for my free webinar.
4. Make your Online Community
This will help like-minded people, entrepreneurs come on one platform, share and collaborate which we at Knorish, too are working towards for our paid members. You’ll soon be hearing of this feature included in our platform and a brand new course that will teach you the Basics of Building your Online Online Community.5. Challenges of running online course business
Even though Praful is a marketing expert, he still believes that learning can never stop. In the longer scheme of things, you’ve got to keep the learning going. For example, you can't just run social media ads and sit back and relax and hope they will continue to bring results. You would have to continuously monitor ad performances, and then optimize them continuously. Maybe change the design, try different audience demographics and interests, and other such aspects to figure out the best approach. “You can’t just create your course and then think you’re done. You have to evolve and keep up with the trends."
Praful’s Advice for the first time course creators
- Don’t rush in figuring out your niche
Take one step at a time…and make the very best of content you possibly can. For churning out video content too, there is no need to invest a large sum to make it sound fancy or too perfect. Instead, it pays off to pay attention to the content creation and make it multiple times better in terms of its value and practicality. It makes perfect sense that people first close in on the niche & know how to bring them to their site. Then validate the idea with proper analytics and business acumen.
- Utilize social media platforms that you’re comfortable with
Don't get stuck with FOMO. Once you’ve created your content pieces, and you’ve tested your niche, Praful recommends to test & analyze campaign outputs. Start with the platform you are most comfortable with. Facebook and Instagram are a goldmine to run ads for acquiring leads and getting sales. Once you have mastered Facebook ad campaigns for your business, then venture into other platforms. In fact, entrepreneurin90days has sold courses worth more than 7 lakhs in just 3 months by only using Facebook ads. If you don’t think the same works for you, no worries. Not every social media platform works for all. Figure out where your audience is and how you can reach out to them faster. You would have to patiently work out to figure out what works for your online course business.
- If possible, cater to multiple vernacular languages
Availability of your online learning program in multiple vernacular languages will make quality learning accessible for learners in every nook and corner. Certainly leading to a hike in sales and your outreach in addition. Create landing pages in the website, offer the same courses in multiple languages or create content with subtitles... Make it easier for your audience to find the knowledge in a language they are most comfortable in.
- This is a slow & strategic progress and that’s ok
"If at first, you don’t succeed, know that it’s okay… if you create a course and don’t put a ton of your time and energy into it, it gets tough.” You have to configure your sales funnel and work on your content to crack the code. And NO! There aren’t any shortcuts available for success. The beauty of online courses (and using Knorish) is that you can real-time monitor your audience’s interaction with your ads and courses and make required adjustments. As a digital product, it takes away the logistics of a traditional business and gives you more time to focus on what matters the most - sales & marketing. So figure out your niche, build your courses and start selling via social media.
- Most importantly, get started on making your online courses
Don't procrastinate. Praful’s final words of advice for those thinking of creating an online course are: Plan well, follow best practices, get a reliable supportive knowledge platform & just go ahead. Do it! “Just get out there and start creating and launching your online course. Even if you’re not sure of what exactly you need to make, check what the market needs, survey your audience. If you don’t have an identified niche, pick a subject you love and are good at and start talking about it and coaching people…do your webinar series to validate the market…and when you finally have discovered that audience ask them, ‘what is it you want to know?’…how can I add value to your life.” This way you’ll get hands-on training on the job for yourself.
- Don’t rush in figuring out your niche
Empowering thousands of aspiring entrepreneurs to go from an idea to an investable business is a noble mission that we at Knorish absolutely stand by. Thanks for sharing your expert insights with us Praful! Here's to entrepreneurin90days enabling the next million entrepreneurs!