Ex-Simplilearn’s senior executive launches Coatom, a marketplace for professional coaching
Coatom is the world’s first marketplace for professional coaching like leadership, executive, business, career and life coaching among others. It primarily helps people to discover their best-ﬁt coach in their lives and get coached online, irrespective of any geographical barriers of reach.
Like most other startups, Coatom’s genesis was also linked to an event in the founder’s life. “After 13 years, I met one of my ex-colleagues in July last year during an alumni night-out party. Back in 2000, we were working as IT service engineers in a small company in Bangalore. Today, he is one of the Senior VPs in a large investment bank in the US. I was amazed to see his growth and was inquisitive about it. He unfolded his story and introduced me to the professional coaching which lead to his success,” says Vasudevan Thrikkazhipuram, Co-founder & CEO of Coatom.
Vasudevan’s ex-colleague attributed his success and growth to a leadership & life coach he hired two years back. Although Vasudevan’s request to him for the contact details of that coach was turned down as per the contract between them, “he encouraged me to look at a coach for myself. I found a lot of coaches listed (only contact details) on ICF -- International Coach Federation, the NGO which largely governs the coaching industry worldwide -- website and reached out to a few of them,” adds Vasudevan.
Unfortunately, Vasudevan could not find personal synergy with any of them and the whole experience was not very good. This urged him to ponder and consequently, he started interacting with a lot more coaches and some of their clients. The insights were interesting and he discovered a few teething problems that needed to be resolved in this space.
Vaudevan is alumnus of Symbiosis Institute of Management Studies and prior to launching Coatom, he led Simplilearn’s marketing and had a stint with Myntra as a senior marketing manager.
The biggest pain areas he identified were two-folds for both sides of the marketplace. For a person looking for a coach, there isn’t a single credible place where he/she can look at for coaches and also find the right coach who will match with their goals and personality. This seems to be a constant challenge for most of them.
The second problem is the expectation vis-a-vis delivery mismatch during the actual coaching. Thus hiring a coach is a difficult proposition for an individual.
From the perspective of the coach, over 60% of their time is spent on marketing and business development for generating new leads. They are not happy with this as they would like to do what they are best at, which is coaching people.
The other major problem faced by these coaches is managing the entire logistics of coaching engagement with their clients.
When Vasudevan started working on the building blocks for Coatom, he realized the need of a tech co-founder and also a design resource. Later one of his friends, Shihab (shihabs.com), who runs a boutique design firm offered help in designing the platform UI & visual design and joined Coatom’s board.
“During my initial discussion with coaches, I happened to meet two ICF certified PCC level coaches in Bangalore -- Bhaskar Natarajan & Jaykumar Hariharan,” says Vasudevan. The duo found Coatom to be an interesting idea and joined the Bangalore-based startup. At present, Coatom has a team of five people, including Vasudevan .
Why we need the help of coaches?
World champions from various spheres around the world use a coach, somebody who can give them perspective, challenge and motivate them and help them unleash untapped potential in a creative and thought provoking manner.
Size of opportunity
As per a survey conducted by ICF in 2012, the overall size of the organised market for professional coaching is $2B (does not include training market). Out of this, 35% of coaching is delivered online in 2013 (via Skype, FaceTime, Google Hangouts, etc) -- as per Sherpa coaching. Online delivery grew 200% last year from 2012.
Coatom is looking at this $700M online coaching market in the next 12 months and is primarily focused on the high awareness regions – the US, the UK, South Africa, Australia, and India.
Coatom is not a marketplace for hiring experts (marketing, product, etc). It’s also not a marketplace for hiring skill-based coaches (music / yoga coaching, competitive exam coaching, etc). It’s uniquely positioned to hire professional coaches to guide people through the right path during challenging times at both personal & professional life.
Challenges and traction
“Initially we struggled a lot, starting from raising money to building the product. I failed to raise money even from my best friends, so I bootstrapped it completely,” says Vasudevan. Currently, the platform lists 250 coaches from over 30 countries. “The traction is building slowly. We’ve had 30 plus consultations on the site already and the feedback so far has been very positive,” he adds.