I’m Wes Kao, the co-founder of Maven, a platform for live online courses. Our instructors include Pomp, Sahil Lavingia, Li Jin, and more. We’re funded by First Round and a16z.
Before Maven, I co-founded and built the altMBA with bestselling author Seth Godin. I grew the altMBA to thousands of students in 500 cities and 45 countries. If you had asked me back then, I would be shocked that the learning format we designed would kick-off this growing category of cohort-based courses.
After the altMBA, I wanted to know whether we could replicate the cohort-based course format with other verticals and creators. So I worked directly with Professor Scott Galloway at Section4, Outlier (by the co-founder of Masterclass), co-founders of Morning Brew, etc to design, build, and launch their course products.
In the early days of my career, I was in brand management marketing at L’Oréal. At Gap, I did a rotational training program, which taught me business fundamentals I still use today. Then I led digital marketing at Flite, an adtech platform later acquired by Snap. I went from big to increasingly smaller orgs over the past 14 years until starting my own company!
Since 2010, I’ve written on my blog and newsletter. I share my spiky POVs about marketing, education, leadership, positioning/framing, startup life, and rigorous thinking. I care a lot about sharpening my craft as a founder, operator, marketer, etc. I see every situation as an opportunity to get buy-in and I believe all great founders/operators are constantly “selling” ideas, even to their direct reports. Also, I love competence and think the world would be a better place if people were more competent. :]
I was very shy as a kid. A lot of what people assume I was naturally good at didn’t come naturally to me. Sharing ideas in public. Writing. Being detail-oriented. Giving direct feedback and embracing conflict. I believe what doesn’t come naturally to us isn’t a bug, it’s a feature. I learned a lot the hard way. If I can do it, you can too. And I’d love to share anything that can help pass it forward.
Ask me anything about
- cohort-based courses
- community building
- turning bugs into features
- reducing decision fatigue
- being a non-CEO/non-technical cofounder
- teaching your team how to think rigorously
- being a “get it right” leader in a “get it done” startup culture
- getting your ideas heard
- having boring routines and work uniforms
- how I’m attempting to pace myself and avoid burnout
- how I learned to worry less despite being a naturally obsessive person
…or anything else!