The key is finding product-market fit

Panda Training provide a remote micro-coaching service

Please introduce yourself and your startup Panda Training to our readers!

Hi! My name is Dima Syrotkin, I’m the CEO & co-founder of Panda Training. I love epic, grandiose, ambition. My goal is to work on projects big both in impact and scale. Among things that might be interesting for you: every Wednesday I am publishing a review of the book I’ve read that week. Check out those articles on my LinkedIn. As for Panda Training, in short, we provide a remote micro-coaching service with certified coaches that allows companies to drive strategic & learning initiatives and gather data from “the shop floor”. Feel free to check out our website for more information. 

How did you get the idea of Panda Training?

We went through a cycle of pivots. Initial idea was AirBnB for training. Within a period of two weeks I’ve heard this idea from two different groups of friends, got inspired and decided to make it happen. After a while we realised that the problem is not in finding training (which a marketplace would have solved) but finding good training. Or so we thought. That’s we why we developed a training analytics service, looking into the long-term impact of corporate training. Soon thereafter we realised that while we got a bunch of great clients, continuing growth in this direction was difficult. Analytics didn’t seem to provide enough actionable value.

Especially because often the quality of training was quite good. The problem was not in the training itself but in what researchers call “learning transfer” or, simply put, application of training. That’s why we developed our remote micro-coaching service. We realised that having a coach who helps individuals in their ‘change’ while collecting critical data for the senior management is a super powerful combo that truly brings remarkable results and unlocks huge possibilities for more effective change management.

Why did you decide to start with Panda Training?

Because the initial idea for the corporate training marketplace seemed like both (1) something I can do and succeed with and (2) something that has huge potential. 

What is the vision behind Panda Training?

We believe that corporate learning is an unexplored well of innovation, growth, progress, and humanity. Our vision is to maximise the ROI of learning and enable employee development in organisations. We want to increase learning application from 12% to 100% and decrease the loss of $13.5m per year per 1000 employees from training to $0. Our aim is to support employees in their development as professionals and individuals.

How difficult was the start and which challenges you had to overcome?

The most difficult part is learning how to build products that people love and test them, rigorously test them without falling for polite “interest”. Raising funding was hell, too. Remote (in-house) development and having a remote team was another challenge. The key is not giving up as long as there is a vision and at times it was tough, depression being a good friend of startup entrepreneurs. Growing as individuals was a big part of the journey, being both painful and inspiring.

Who is your target audience?

HR, HRD, L&D, change management, strategy professionals in organisations with 200+ employees. 

What is the USP of your startup?

Drastically increase the ROI of learning through remote coaching support at scale and collection of critical data.

Can you describe your typical workday?

My typical day consists of a combination of reaching out to potential clients, client meetings, syncing in with our team via meeting or Slack, thinking about the strategy & checking in with our KPIs, working on project delivery, doing research & reading, working on marketing messaging, material & strategy.

Where do you see yourself and your startup Panda Training in five years?

I see us as a company that does meaningful work at the edge of learning innovation helping individuals and organisations grow, at scale, working globally. I see us as a company that puts integrity first and changes the world around it for the better, treats its people with dignity and respect allowing them to grow as individuals and recognise their humanity.

What 3 tips would you give other Start-up founders on the way?

The key is finding product-market fit. Do what a few users would love, even if it’s not scalable at the moment. Realise that most ideas won’t ‘click’.

Don’t hire as long as you can, especially while looking for product-market fit keep the team as small as possible. As soon as you grow over 3-5 people team a lot of your time will go into managing the team.

The contract that isn’t signed – is NOT signed. Don’t mistake interest for sale. Don’t act upon the belief that you’ve already signed the deal when you haven’t.

4th as a bonus: don’t raise funding for as long as you can. If you think it’s impossible to bootstrap, think twice.

More information you will find here

Thank you Dima Syrotkin for the Interview

Statements of the author and the interviewee do not necessarily represent the editors and the publisher opinion again.

Sabine Elsässer

Sabine Elsässer is founder and chief editor of the StartupValleyNews Magazine. She started her career at several international direct sale companys. Since 2007 she works main time as a journalist. While that time she learned more about the Startup Scene, what made her start her own Startup Magazine the StartupValleyNews.

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