Not long after launching his digital marketing business in 2004, recent University of Maryland, College Park graduate Anik Singal noticed something: there weren’t enough resources for young entrepreneurs like himself.
The problem was also an opportunity, and led Singal to broaden his focus. He began transforming his marketing company into an online community, including a platform offering courses in various aspects of digital marketing, finance, copywriting, e-commerce, and other skills.
“It became about giving back to young entrepreneurs,” said Joe Campanella, executive vice president of sales and marketing at the Rockville-based Lurn. The Lurn Nation community now has more than 250,000 members, all of them “like-minded individuals looking to be entrepreneurs or learn digital marketing,” he said.
The Lurn platform now offers about 100 online, video-based courses. Some are free, others range from a few dollars to several hundred dollars.
Lurn’s clients include a mix of new and experienced entrepreneurs. Some might just be getting started in digital marketing, or may be professionals with an e-commerce business on the side they’re looking to expand; others might be companies with five or 10 employees looking to get an edge, Campanella said.
“We’ve helped people from all over the world, in over 55 countries,” Campanella said. “About 45 percent of our business comes from outside of the United States.”
Krystal Romero, an entrepreneur from Colombia, credits a Lurn “Masters” course—for which she traveled to Maryland—with helping her launch a successful personal coaching and consulting business. She now serves as a coach and mentor to other entrepreneurs in the Lurn community.
“I thought I was going to build an online business … and that’s it.” Romero said in a video testimonial about the Lurn program. But with success in her business came a newfound stability for herself and her family. “It’s been life-changing for me,” she said.
A year ago, Lurn broadened its reach by opening the LurnCenter, a 26,000 square-foot facility that offers classroom and shared working space as well as a production facility so the Lurn crew can shoot and edit new videos.
The shared working space includes conference rooms and “hot” desks for the center’s growing community of members to use when they need to. The center also hosts monthly keynote speakers and weekly “mastermind” Q&A sessions with Singal.
“We wanted a physical footprint,” Campanella said. “We want people to come here for the experience of working with other entrepreneurs.”
What sets Lurn and the LurnCenter apart from other organizations that incubate or support startups is that usually when companies grow, they leave those resources behind, Campanella said. “Lurn is here for the whole process,” he said. “It’s really an ongoing community that supports all phases of the company’s life cycle.”