Raffaela Rein is the CEO and Co-Founder of CareerFoundry, one of the leading online schools for User Experience (UX), User interface (UI) and Voice User Interface (VUI) Design. Before CF, she worked at BlackRock and Rocket Internet.
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
I had launched three businesses for Rocket internet, which is where I fell in love with entrepreneurship. It is just amazing solving a problem and earning a living with that.
When I worked a short stint for a big media company that was trying hard to hire 150 developers and designers and really struggled to do this, the idea for CareerFoundry was born.
Tell us about your business.
CareerFoundry is a leading school for UX & UI Programming and VUI (voice user interface design).
We help people build a career they love AND DESIGN THEIR LIVES – through helping them make a successful career change or grow their career and take it to the next level.
Are you currently running any promos/contests/giveaways that you would like our readers to know about?
Yes! If you like this post, comment with which course you’d like to take, follow the CF account, they DM us for a 10% discount.
- In our career change programs, we have a 98.2% placement rate
- Train people in over 80 countries globally
- Over 100k students per year across all courses
- We place students at leading companies all around the world, including Google, Amazon, Starbucks, Visa and more
Where is your business based?
Our headquarters is in Berlin with a remote team of six people in the USA.
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
I launched a Meetup group that taught programming in early 2013. I knew I had hit a nerve because the group grew very fast.
We did our first paid course in my living room a month later, which is where I met my co-founder, who I hired as the workshop trainer.
In 2013, we experimented with different forms of online and offline learning, worked on business models and vision, and started the first version of the platform.
In October 2013, I left my job to work on CF full-time, and in Dec 2013 we raised our first round of financing.
Looking back, it all went really fast, but while we were setting things up it felt like the most stressful time ever.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
Early on we invested in a blog, where we talk about all things UX, UI, programming, and career-related. That was pivotal in raising awareness.
In education you never just sell a product, you are helping with a life change, so with our blog, we were able to communicate that we truly care and show how we are different to the competition.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
Focus. What to focus on is the hardest and most important job of an entrepreneur.
Currently, we have to fix a lot of technical debt because we were always more focused on the customer than on the internal user, but that puts a challenge to scaling.
You always have to pick your battles.
How did you overcome these challenges?
Focus as well.
We made a conscious effort this year to focus on fixing some of the technical debt so that we can scale again in the future.
It is not exactly sexy, but it is something that has to get done as a company matures.
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
That’s a really good question! In the depth of things, it can feel like there are more difficult than easy times, I guess that’s part of the struggle and hustle of building something new.
I stay motivated by:
- Envisioning the future and how great it could be.
- Staying positive and keep on believing.
- Going through the worst possible outcomes and realizing they are still pretty good.
- Going away for weekend trips to clear my mind and get refreshed.
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
- We have a global job guarantee, not just for major US cities.
- We have the best curriculum because we are the only school of our type that actually has an instructional design team who does amazing work to make the content as delightful and easy to learn as possible.
- We offer amazing specializations such as VUI that give participants a real edge in the job market.
- We are a movement much more than an educator, because “designing your life” is a lifelong process that changes as seasons and priorities change over time.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
People naturally gravitate towards what is easy and fast, especially in business. They try to build businesses and differentiators based on what’s easy, fast and cost-efficient.
The problem with this is normally that something that is easy, fast and cheap can be copied easily.
Instead, when building a business you should go for what’s hard, expensive, and with more of a long-term focus.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
Plan for the long-term, not the short term.
Stay positive and get out occasionally to bond with other entrepreneurs, it’s always good to realize that it’s not easy for anybody.
Lastly, don’t go to too many conferences – you’re better off building long-term sales funnels.
What are your favorite business tools/resources and why?
I listen to a lot of podcasts as I am on the road a lot, some of my favorites are;
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
- Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Scott
- Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds by Carmine Gallo
What are you currently learning about for your business or looking for help with?
We’ve just hired a management coach who is helping us become better leaders and communicators. If I was doing this all over again, I would hire a coach much earlier.
I’m also reading a lot about these two topics currently.
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
We became cash flow positive last year, and in the next six months, we also want to become accounting profitable and are working towards that.
We aim to achieve this by setting six month goals and budgets, and then we break down the goals for the different teams from there.
What social media outlets do you use? List them below.
Instagram @career_foundry, @raffaelarein
Facebook Group www.facebook.com/groups/TheUXSchool
Hashtags #careerfoundry #entrepreneurblogger #buildacareeryoulove #designyourlife #uxdesigner