With in-person gatherings temporarily on hold, entrepreneurs like SkillPop founder Haley Bohon have to get creative to stay in business.
Bohon created SkillPop in Charlotte in 2015 to revolutionize in-person learning with one-off classes in a variety of subjects, like public speaking or breadmaking. Before the COVID-19 outbreak, the brand had 150 teachers offering in-person workshops in six different cities.
The company is now taking that concept entirely online, introducing SkillPop Anywhere.
The shift isn’t something Bohon ever could have imagined when she started the business, which focused on building community in addition to educating Charlotteans. However, she says the pivot has been effective thus far.
How it works: New classes are unveiled on Tuesdays. Sign up for their newsletter to get updates. Right now, you can take classes in topics like meditation, home decorating basics, and makeup techniques, with more options coming.
Classes use a “one-to-many” video platform, so students can see the teacher (and vice versa), submit questions, and chat with the group, but other students can’t see each other. Class numbers are capped between 40-50 students. They take place at 7 p.m. during the week and at 10 a.m. on weekends. As an added bonus, you’ll be able to take classes from teachers in any of SkillPop’s markets.
The setup: When Bohon was first creating SkillPop, she says there was a three-month period between idea and execution. SkillPop Anywhere, on the other hand, went from idea to execution in just three days. Though they needed to move quickly to keep the business alive, Bohon says, “I wanted to do it in a way that felt like us” and honored the brand’s core values.
The cost: The price point is slightly lower than what you’d pay for an in-person class. Right now “early access” pricing sets every class at $20, but Bohon says that may increase slightly on April 1.
The reception: Bohon says the first week they rolled out Skillpop Anywhere with three classes. They were hesitant about the reception, but the classes sold out within four hours. She says they’ve also found a new audience among people who previously couldn’t have attended classes, such as those with young kids, those who work too late to drive to an in-person class location, and people who have moved to a city without SkillPop offerings.
Bohon calls the pivot a silver lining. “We’re taking lemons and making lemonade, and trying to make the absolute best we can out of a hard situation. We’re using it to push ourselves and to do something new. I think best-case scenario for us is that this becomes something that helps us grow the business and do more and be more than we were before.”