For my first blog post here, I thought I’d give a little background about myself and why I wanted to jump into this new adventure.
In addition to what we do at Odeon, I’d like to talk about our values, who we are as a team and what success means to us in the context of our goals.
Who I am and what brought me here
I’m Ory, the founder of Odeon Ventures. Don’t confuse me with my colleague Ori — same name, different spelling. You can imagine this causes some confusion around the office.
Having been in performance marketing for almost 20 years, I’ve seen the influence that high-quality information can have on people’s lives. Being more practical, I believe it simplifies complex decisions.
Welcome to Odeon Ventures, a new initiative focused on lead generation for the higher education market.
Why higher education, you ask? I mentioned complex decisions above, and it really doesn’t get much more complex or pivotal than choosing a degree or career path. Personally, I had so many questions before choosing a degree. The number of directions I considered was vast, from medicine and film, to thoughts of engineering. Looking back, I could have used any kind of tool or information hub to help me through this process. However, given is was 2002 the available online resources were extremely limited and inaccessible.
Luckily for me, I ended up choosing well — and was content — but I met many others who were not so fortunate. A lot of students and graduates I met over the years shared the same confusion and frustration. That stayed in the back of my mind for years and I am happy that together with my new team we are trying to do something about it.
What we are trying to do
Our goal is to develop a set of accessible, engaging and user-centred websites in the higher education and career choice fields. To be more specific, the sites will feature expert information to assist anyone looking for a degree — whether online or brick and mortar — or a career change.
What kind of information are we going to provide? A variety of guides written by experts about different professions including background, employment options, qualifications and more. We’ll also feature reviews of colleges, universities, and programs. We seek qualified contributors that can share their experiences.
As I mention above, I have over the years seen the positive impact of well-designed guidance and support in decision making, and feel that a complex choice such as what and where to study deserves high-quality resources.
How we define success
We are a B2B2C company, which stands for business to business to consumer. In our case this means that while our clients are the education providers, the users of our products are in fact the potential students. This has a significant effect on how we run our business. In theory, we should focus more on our clients. However, this means that we’d then pay less attention to our end users (by using more aggressive monetization techniques, or spending more on marketing and less on the product, for example).
We choose a different path. It is our firm belief that focusing almost exclusively on the end user will yield better results and create a more effective partnership with our clients in the long run. The goal is not to just send the students to the education websites, but to send there students who are well-informed, trust the information they get, and as a result of it are ready to commit to whichever of our clients they select.
By engaging users on our websites, the B2B part of our business becomes much more straightforward. For our clients, increasing user satisfaction with offered information means prospective students who are ready to decide. We will therefore work hard to keep our relationship with the clients as transparent and mutually beneficial as possible, but will not lose the user-centric approach.
How we succeed
Long term gains are achieved by building high-quality, thought-out products focused on what we call internally as “search experience”.
In many industries, we see performance marketers taking shortcuts by investing less in content, quality of product and user experience, and more in aggressive search tactics. Those practices do not create engaged users, sustainable revenues, or customer satisfaction, only short-term gains.
So, what’s the plan?
- Source a network of associated editors, industry experts and academic advisors in the fields we will cover.
- Invest heavily in developing a technical platform, combining an easy-to-use interface while curating a large amount of highly relevant, accessible content.
- Develop back-office processes and tools to improve our understanding of users’ intentions, allowing us to produce the best possible content. Our team member’s experience will be pivotal to achieve this goal.
- Pace ourselves. We will start with selected topics, and slowly grow the number of professions, degrees, and schools we work with, as well as our target audience.
We spent some time thinking about what we stand for and about the things that we’re not willing to compromise on as a company. The answers to these questions will also impact who we will work with, from clients to suppliers.
Our top values are:
- User focus – we strive for any product we build to focus first and foremost on its users, which in our case are the potential students.
- Community impact – education is a pillar of the community, and we hope improving how people find and understand their options will have a very positive impact. As a company we are looking for ways beyond just our day-to-day challenges to have a positive community impact. More to come about this as we go along.
- Peer review – we borrowed this term from the academic world we are working to become a part of. Internally, we seek to have our work reviewed by our colleagues, and are always ready to accept advice.
Although the team is small at this point, we bring together many different skill sets. From product development to content creation, search engine optimization and user experience to interface design. We are selective, but not in the standard sense of the word. We welcome open-minded individuals who are eager to learn, expand their expertise, and grow with us.
Even if we don’t have a specific position to fill, we will find one for the right candidate. Anyone should feel free to reach out, as there will always be a place for likeminded individuals who are passionate about our mission.
We plan to grow the team and build our own unique culture. This is obviously a challenge in these strange, COVID19 times, and the different work conditions that come with it. In my mind, a flexible work environment should have always been a part of our lives. It seems that the current situation has emphasized that for many.
How we behave
In my opinion, humbleness is pivotal in teamwork. When I say humbleness, I mean going into any discussion with the notion that I might be wrong or someone else might have a better idea. By no means do I mean that we should not act with conviction or be sure of ourselves, but we should at least consider other options.
Another key quality I expect from myself, as well as anyone I work with, is transparency. Seems easy right? Just say what you think, don’t misrepresent your intentions, and always try to avoid intrigue. So no, it’s not so easy. I have seen so many quality organizations become dysfunctional due to the lack of transparency and humbleness.
The leaders that inspire me always seem to focus on getting their team to work well together and avoid politics even at the expense of “creating that amazing new feature”. We should reach a point where we feel comfortable to let our guard down and ask for help or admit we do not know how to do something. That’s fine, as long we are all aligned for the good of the group. Patric Lencioni calls it “vulnerability-based trust”. I try to remember that the goal is first and foremost a “healthy organization”, minimal politics and clarity on our goals.
It’s an exciting time, launching a new business with a new team of people. Feeling that drive to create something that really adds value. No doubt there will be ups and downs, but the goal is clear, and we will consistently re-enforce the clarity around it.
We will keep updating you on our progress and share our learnings during this journey.
Furthermore, I encourage anyone to contact us to about becoming a partner, contributor or just to get on our holiday card list!