Platzi: How a Colombian edtech startup changed my life
Lessons learned from my startup crush
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A special piece
In this week’s article, I wanted to get personal and share the story of how one Colombian ed-tech startup changed my life. Even though I never took one of their courses. Let me explain: in 2020, bored and quarantined, I decided that my goal would be to speak Spanish when we could go outside again. I figured I had to consume a ton of content, but I couldn’t stand two minutes of “me llamo Tim y tú, cómo te llamas” videos. I needed to find interesting, Spanish content I would actually enjoy watching. That’s when I found Platzi’s Youtube channel.
Platzi, the brainchild of Freddy Vega and Christian Van Der Henst, is a Colombian ed-tech startup offering a plethora of online courses, in Spanish, related to the digital economy (coding, digital marketing, etc…). It was born out of the two founders’ passion for technology (they both ran some successful Hispanic tech online forums in the early 2010s) combined with their shared frustration with online courses’ low completion rates. Both teachers at heart, they wanted to scale their knowledge-sharing by using the internet while simultaneously maintaining a strong community aspect.
In 2012, they created mejorando.la, which eventually morphed into Platzi following the startup’s acceptance into the famed Y-Combinator accelerator, becoming the first Latin American startup to do so. Following YC, the startup has continuously posted impressive growth numbers, raising a $62 million Series B in December 2021 while serving approximately 3 million users. Platzi is renowned for the quality and utility of its courses, especially their “English” and “Intro to programming” courses which have become staples in the company’s marketing strategy.
However, this article isn’t a deep dive into Platzi itself. Rather, it is about the lessons and the changes of mindsets that Platzi has operated on me. These reflections were elicited by the (free) Platzi content, but are fundamentally detached from the company itself. Therefore, prior knowledge of Platzi isn’t required to understand what I’m going to talk about.
I’m not an optimist per se. Rather, I am a hyper-realist, that is well aware that everything is technically possible. This goes for both good and bad scenarios. Following that reasoning, there are potential solutions to every problem on earth. There is also an unlimited number of possibilities for things to go wrong. In my mind, however, I’ve chosen to focus and spend energy on the limitless amounts of solutions we can find to today’s problems, using pragmatism, data, realism, and the still undefined limits of human creativity. This stance stands in sharp contrast to ideology, akin to intellectual laziness, which often refuses to consider contrarian valid data points for fear of challenging a carefully crafted utopia (or dystopia).