Benji’s founder on the online learning revolution

Benji’s founder on the online learning revolution

Making education accessible to all gets Benji’s founder, Matthew Parson, out of bed in the morning. That’s why he’s joining forces with MaRS Entrepreneurship 101 – an online program designed to help ventures build a set of strategic frameworks and insights they can apply to their business. Matthew will enhance the current E101 format with offline support.

Revolutionizing education

Did you know that the average student in Canada racks up $25,000 in debt over the course of their studies? During his time at RED Academy, where he was COO, Matthew saw firsthand that this was an issue and there was a need for a new education model.

“Right now, if you want to learn something you either have to spend thousands of dollars at a traditional bricks-and-mortar school or try and teach yourself through online classes,” he says.

Benji provides the in-person classroom experience you’d expect from a school, which includes a peer group, access to mentors, an expert-vetted curriculum and a physical learning space, all built on-top of digital content. The result? Tuition that is 10 times more affordable. 

How does Benji fit with E101?

E101 attracts some of the greatest entrepreneurial minds that Toronto has to offer. But, Matthew became aware that:

“The one piece of feedback [the E101 team] kept receiving was that participants wanted an even more engaging educational experience (read: in-person) and the opportunity to meet other local entrepreneurs going through the course.”

As a result, he sees the new partnership as a “no-brainer,” since Benji can bring expertise in providing an offline experience that complements E101’s online learning format.

Advice for entrepreneurs taking online courses

Matthew shared two pieces of wisdom for anyone considering signing up for an online course.

  1. If you’re going to start a learning journey, first find your support community. The average drop-off rate for online courses is 94.5%! If you’re an entrepreneur, then you’ll have a million and one things thrown at you as you study the materials and if you don’t have the social support (peer pressure) to complete a course you just won’t. 
  2. Follow your curiosity. In Steve Jobs’ famous 2005 Stanford commencement speech, he told a story about how he took a calligraphy course, while studying at Reed College, even though there was no direct application for the skills he learned in his life at the time. It was only 10 years later, when he was designing the typography for the first Macintosh computer, that he saw his developed love for font design prove beneficial. His team incorporated multiple typefaces and proportionally spaced fonts into the Mac, making it the first computer with beautiful fonts.

As Steve Jobs put it, it’s very difficult to connect the dots looking forward. But, it was very clear when he looked back. Explore topics that you find interesting and feed your curiosity, because you never know how your new skills and knowledge might benefit you in the future. 

Take advantage of the new partnership between Benji and E101! You still have time to register for the fall cohort of E101 online.