Perlego is on a mission to be the World's Online Learning Library; Perlego gives its users unlimited access to over 220,000 eBooks and publications for only £12 a month.
Who are you outside of being the CEO and founder of Perlego?
Right now my life is Perlego, it’s my baby.
On the weekends, I play 5-a-side football every Sunday. I’m from Belgium originally so for me to get out of London is a really nice way to relax. I’d say that I’m an average 26 year old, I like to see my friends and relax.
For you, what is the ‘why’ behind Perlego and how did it begin?
I was at university not too long ago, buying super expensive textbooks. As a student, you don’t want to own the product, you just want to consume the content.
Why would I buy a textbook when I only need a chapter of it?
I had the idea: A subscription product for textbooks.
Why is making education affordable so important to you? Do you have a personal connection with it?
When you’re a founder, you’re mission driven. If it’s not about changing the world, there’s no point building a startup.
Textbooks are only consumed by 40% of our population. In China, Africa, India, the unit economics of getting a physical copy out there don’t make sense.
- It’s exciting for our investors and publishers, we can make this available to everyone.
- I believe the educational system is flawed. Lifelong learning is going to be the next trend in education.
We can make this available to everyone.
With Perlego, you can dip into one book here and another book there. For the many of us who struggle with the price of textbooks at university, you can go on to Perlego and find the key books you need to study your course. In the future, we’d like to give away one free subscription to someone from an underprivileged background for every 100 sign-ups.
If you weren’t working on Perlego, what would be your current project?
When I was at university, I had a company called Iconic Matter, it was a student marketing agency. I sold that one.
Another one I would like to do is: Fixie bikes -foldaway bikes. You would be able personalise your bike, choose the colour, the wheels, the design.
But, apart from that, Perlego is my current project – I’m going to be working on it for the next few years.
You seem to have an entrepreneurial spirit. What drives this desire in you to create and execute an idea?
I’m bored if I don’t create.
I tried working in a big company for 3 months and it didn’t work for me.
What I love about Perlego is that I can decide to do one thing today and another thing tomorrow. Your job has a direct impact on what you’re doing and you see the change you’re making. For everyone working at a startup, responsibility of a role is exciting.
How do you balance the big vision with day-to-day challenges? Does it ever get too overwhelming or too exciting – how do you stay on task?
It’s an emotional rollercoaster. Last month we won publishers and lost publishers.
Remember, nothing is perfect and everything takes longer than you think.
There are ups and downs, but by having our end goal in mind we can be focused. Our end goal is to become the World’s Online Learning Library, and we split up this goal into milestones. We work backwards, completing each milestone to move closer to the end goal – it is the Objective and Key Results Strategy.
With everything you have done (raising $4.8 million in funding) and what you are yet to do, how do you live in the moment?
Many people look at Perlego from an outside view and are in awe but in fact, we’re fighting battles every single day. All in all, everyone who works here is appreciative of what we’re doing.
I just love my job. Even if I didn’t take a salary, I’d still do what I’m doing.
For me, building something you love and have ownership over, is worth much more than making more money.
PRACTICAL TIP: Schedule difficult meetings from 9am-12pm and then give yourself time to think.
What’s next for Perlego? What’s the bigger vision?
Getting great people – early stage startup is about three things: people, people, people.
The people who invest in you,
the people in your organisation,
and the people in your network who you can learn from.
We plan to grow into a great team, increase the number of publishers onboard and also grow across Europe. We aim to open up in a new language (Italian or German) by September whilst continuing to build the vision; it is more than likely we will have to raise again and then we hope expand into the US market.