How can a leading company that could be a vertical track recover its former glory?

Editor’s note: This article is from the micro-channel public number “hedgehog commune” (ID: ciweigongshe), Author: large plum, editor: Chan Shi principal.

The three classes may not be moving in a more active and healthy direction.

“At the end of the year, the number of working groups suddenly changed from more than 400 people to more than 140 people. All the C-side businesses on the first floor were emptied. Only one slogan was left, and it said’Three classes and you “To be together for a lifetime,” I think hehe.” Chu Fei, an employee of three classes, told the Remix plan (ID: remixjihua), looking at the first floor that has become a live broadcast room and the tablecloth printed with slogan that has not had time to be replaced. , Chu Fei’s mockery was mixed with helplessness.

This picture is a group photo for the 5th anniversary of the three classes in November 2020. Perhaps most people in the picture did not expect that 2/3 of them will leave in two months.

On March 15, 2021, the founder of Three Classes, Huang Youcan, announced that he would leave Three Classes. Huang Youcan is the signboard of the three classes and the white moonlight in the operator’s heart. In 2015, he was found by Douban investors for a red post “Douban Ten Years, the Ups and Downs of a Typical Elite Community” in 2015, and asked Douban for advice. Future possibilities.

After recognizing the power of words, Huang Youcan continued to copy the logic of the explosions to guide public opinion, and the industry recognition is increasing. His best-selling book “Operation Light” is listed as a must-read book for product managers and operators.

“A lot of people report for the operation class because they look at Lao Huang instead of three classes.” Lin Chen said. Lin Chen is both a student of three classes and a former teaching assistant.

Business transformation, large-scale layoffs, the departure of the founder… For the company, this is a posture to be overturned. There are three classes of employees who broke the news on the workplace social platform. Drive away”.

However, Huang Youchan denied it.

On March 15, 2021, Huang Youcan wrote an article titled “A 5-year entrepreneurial journey is over” in his official account, officially announcing that he will leave three classes, and by the way, he has a job offer. Message and explain the reason for leaving:

“As the co-founder of this company, I will still bless the three classes and maintain a long-term partnership with the three classes… Here, there is no tearing, no eightGua, there is nothing particularly shady. “

Is there any tricky Huang Youchan leaving? Why were all three classes of business cut? Give up the best product you can play, what do you want to do in the three classes? With these questions in mind, let’s look back at the history of the three lessons.

Family history in three lessons

In 2014, three experienced, visionary, and motivated young men hit it off at first sight.

From left: Huang Youcan, Hou Xianhui, Xu Caixing (cloth cotton)

Hou Xianhui worked as a product architect at Baidu, and Bomian worked as a product director at Ganji. They and Huang Youcan, who worked as an operation director at Class 9 I found that the product manager’s course is too popular. The two-day course, the expensive fee of 2,000 yuan is still full of courses per session, and the supply exceeds the demand.

In 2015, the slogan “Mass Entrepreneurship and Innovation” set off an entrepreneurial boom. For a while, the demand for product managers and Internet operations surged, but the university did not cultivate such talents. The three discovered opportunities and quickly entered into it. This vertical track. There are 50 registrations open for three classes every week, and the fastest one is robbed in 25 seconds. According to reports, three classes in 2017 have achieved tens of millions of revenue, and continue to maintain a growth rate of 300%.

First of all, the three people developed a systematic framework and methodology to fill the gaps in product and operation training. The methodology itself is universal. In the case of similar situations, following a certain framework, even if the problem cannot be solved, it is the entry point to the problem.

Just as the consulting industry requires analysts to be familiar with an unfamiliar industry within 3 to 5 days, the product and operation fields that are in full swing urgently need a set of templates that newcomers can follow. “He told me a methodology. I only need to follow his steps when I encounter a similar situation.” An employee of a major Internet company told the remix plan after receiving three classes of offline operation training for one day.

Secondly, use the “teaching assistant mode” to allow students to practice the theories in the course in the way of “writing homework”, and the teaching assistant to help students continue to optimize their homework until they pass the exam. The teaching assistant emphasizes service and belongs to the nature of trusteeship. It takes 4-5 hours to write homework for one hour in class. “One teaching assistant is responsible for about 20Of the students, they often batch their homework until their head is bald. “Lin Chen said.

The teaching assistant model is one of the core reasons for the success of the three classes. The selection of teaching assistants is very strict. They are basically three-course veteran students, and only those with excellent homework scores have the opportunity to be hired as teaching assistants. Lin Chen said that one month as a teaching assistant can earn 1,000 to 2,000 yuan.

The company has given teaching assistants a strong control over the courses. At the peak of 2019, there were more than 2,000 assistants in three classes (cumulative data). “I thought my homework was changed by the teacher. It turned out to be the assistant. The level is okay,” an employee of a major factory told the remix plan. The high-quality correction and delivery also supported the reputation of the three classes.

In May 2019, three classes completed the B round of 130 million yuan financing, which is the largest single financing in the new vocational education field in the past three years. The three founders are gearing up to expand the category of courses and increase the number of users. This financing was also the time when Huang Youcan was involved in a gambling in the “black material” but was denied by the master.

Word-of-mouth marketing is limited after all. In an interview with the media in March 2019, Huang Youcan said, “Even companies with a reputation and organic growth of 20% per month like Three Classes will rely on external channels to obtain traffic at a certain stage. Currently online When the average customer acquisition cost of the education industry is about 5,000 yuan, the customer acquisition cost for three classes will also need to be about 300 yuan. “Three classes with a regular price of 299 yuan, face a 300 yuan customer acquisition cost, no profit at all.

Because of the difficulty in acquiring customers, three classes began to try advertising, and the article “Subscribed to Metro Line 4” spread across the Internet.

It’s just that the quality of advertising students is significantly lower than that of word-of-mouth students. Lin Chen started working as a teaching assistant in the new media P1 for three classes in early 2019. In the previous classes, the atmosphere of the class group was very active and the relationship was very harmonious.

But by the end of the 2019 class, Lin Chen clearly felt that the enthusiasm of the students was very low, and it was difficult to interact in the community. If the students are not active, the graduation rate and excellence rate will be affected. “To put it bluntly, the high-quality leeks are cut.” The reputation of the three classes began to decline.

Things continue to get worse.

The three classes of domestic and foreign difficulties continue to incubate new courses and new service models, such as live broadcasts, and expect user growth. As a result, the maintenance and updating of the old courses lacks manpower. The core course iteration cycle of three classes is generally 6 to 8 months, and the iteration cycle of homework is even shorter, 1 to 2 months.

But beginning in 2019, teaching assistants including Lin Chen found that even if they submitted feedback, courses and assignments were not updated for a long time. The three classes put most of the manpower on the development of new courses. Lin Chen said, “I was disappointed at the beginning of 2019. I went to three classes and gave feedback all afternoon. If nothing else, a few typos can always be corrected, and I won’t change it.”

In the face of difficulties in acquiring customers, poor quality of new users, and the company’s reduced energy on the original course iterations, etc., it was decided to change the game for three classes.

Quick up, fast down

“There is an essential difference between payment for knowledge and education. Payment for knowledge is a content industry. What it delivers to users is only content, and what education delivers to users is the result, such as the improvement of ability.” Huang Youcan is often invited to participate A forum for paying for knowledge and making similar remarks.

Huang Youcan’s intentions are obvious. He wants to reverse the public perception that the three classes are not about paying for knowledge, but about education. They want to be a “new vocational university.” After the core product and operation courses were removed from the shelves, three classes began to focus on creating courses for sailing and trading.

“If you come to school for three classes, I will guarantee your employment. If you can’t enter the big factory, I will refund your tuition.” This is a fatal attraction for users. “I was in charge of starting the flight at the time. The tuition fee was 5,000 yuan. About 5,000 students participated in a year, and the turnover was 25 million.” Lin Chen, who participated in the “start flight” throughout the process, estimated the Remix plan.

Where does Huang Youcan’s confidence in “securing employment” come from?

The Remix project found that the reason why the three classes dare to “guarantee employment” is because it is not ordinary people who can participate in the “start flight”. They will screen the trainees and if they are not suitable, they will not be able to enter the flight. A college graduate in a big city isTheir precise users, and they, even if they don’t have three classes, many people can enter the big factory.

“At the end of 2019, when Huang Youcan was about to launch Sailing and Trader, we were expelled from the target user group.” Lin Chen said.

The export end “guarantees employment” and the entrance end “selects students” to improve the quality of users and ensure the delivery results. Logically, it seems that it can run smoothly. The reputation of the three classes may be saved.

I didn’t expect to end up like 2019.

From the beginning, the sailing plan “guaranteed employment”, and later became “I will give you three opportunities to push in the big factory, but it depends on yourself”. The standard is gradually lowered. “The quality of users has dropped sharply, and the next 200 In the human class, there are about 40 people who can pass all-excellent. When I was a teaching assistant to help students simulate interviews, I always asked three questions.”

Why does history repeat itself again?

Through combing the public materials, Remix plans to infer that Huang Youcan’s logic is like this: users who want to come to the class do not have experience in Dachang, and they will have three lessons. The three lessons will tell you how Dachang does things, and give You leave homework, and with the experience of studying in three classes, you can jump into the big factory when you write it in your resume.

But the question is at the very beginning, what kind of people will be attracted to the class? It is a small factory or a fresh graduate.

From the perspective of the number of people, most people are not involved in the big factory themselves; from the practical point of view, after learning this methodology, the employees of the small factory are not able to use it at all. For example, how do the three-course instructors operate a community of 1 million fans, but most students may not even have 1,000 fans on their hands.

“90% of people have no chance to enter a big factory in their lifetime. Many of the courses in the three classes are based on the case of the big factory. Where can small companies get the resources and funds of the big factory.” Another teaching assistant told the Remix plan for the three classes. .

Lin Chen discovered that in January 2021, all the regular employees in the teaching assistant group had withdrawn from the group; after a year, some students wanted to register for classes, and the homepage courses were also removed. Soon, there was a shocking thunderstorm in the teaching assistant group, “Huang Youcan failed in the gambling, and resigned.”

The users of the three classes have formed many small groups in private. Lin Chen once said that the biggest gain for him from the three classes is not the content of the courses, but the recognition of a group of like-minded people.

Faced with Huang Youcan’s denial in the article, Lin Chen believes, “It is not normal to say that shameful things are not normal. He is actually quite irrational in 2019 and burned a lot of money.”

Some practitioners told the Remix plan that in May 2019, three classes received a huge financing of 150 million, but it is estimated that roi (return on investment) has not evened, and the investment has increased significantly under the pressure of investors. The quality of service cannot keep up, leading to a decline in the C-side business.

On April 7, 2021, Huang Youcan published an article titled “An education company called “Youcan” was established in a low-key” on his official account, which was officially announced. The Tianyan Check App shows that the project was established on January 19, 2021, and Huang Youcan is the executive director and manager of the project. The project is aimed at professionals from 0-8 years, and initially provides two products.

When asked if he would like to continue working with Huang Youcan, Lin Chen held a pessimistic attitude, “referring to the situation of the next-door teacher Beichen, Chi Cheng, and Gong Yan, I know that Huang has managed a large team of hundreds of people. How can it be possible to spend time and effort to polish the course?”

Shi Beichen is the former editor-in-chief of Phoenix Technology. Chi Cheng used to be a famous lecturer for socket students. Gong Yan is famous for “Dragon and Fire”. The person in charge of the media.

The three of them all jumped out to start their own businesses and sell classes in the late stage of paying for knowledge, and they once aroused some waves. “In the first two years, as long as the courses have characteristics, they can be sold. Now they are not good. They have to be usable and effective.” Lin Chen said, Huang Youcan failed in all three classes. What success can he rely on to start his own business?

Where are you stuck?

In 2020, with the blessing of the epidemic, capital, technology, and other forces, education companies are all racing in an enclosure in an attempt to occupy this track. Many small and medium-sized institutions can’t survive the death, and the leading enterprises also need to transform. For the three classes, the two failed experiments may prove that this vertical track in the field of product operation just doesn’t work.

First of all, three lessons cannot give users what they want. The three classes are facing anxious groups. Their just need is to achieve employment, promotion, salary increase, job change and other job demands through the three classes. However, after two trials in 2019 and 2020, the three classes obviously do not have this ability.

Secondly, there is no standard for course content. The courses must be universal, which means that the industry must be standardized, but the Internet operation has not yet achieved standardization. Therefore, it is difficult for students to apply the courses with strong personal colors.

“The bank counter used to promote the card for you, now it is called the card product manager.” Chu Fei said that in the era when everything is available for products and everything is operated, the standardization of Internet jobs has not yet been established, and it is dependent on the job. The courses above have no standards at all.

Lin Chen’s current company sells programming courses. The slogan is “Ensure that you have just entered a job with a monthly salary of 8000”. The code is a hard skill, and if you can, there are too many uncontrollable factors in operation and products. The operation course is dismantled. It may not be possible to follow the activities of 1 million drainage.

Zhang Liang, a course producer in the industry, believes that operations need to be integrated into other functions, rather than independent development, because independent development requires quantifiable and evaluable indicators. “Starting in 2010, there will be discussions about the usefulness of operations. I have never stopped. As of today, which boss dare to say that he can clearly quantify the value of operations?”

The three classes established in 2015 have caught up with the Internet dividend of “mass entrepreneurship and innovation”. The complete methodology + teaching assistant service model has constructed the reputation of the three classes. Since the Internet job standards have not yet been established, the training industry has its own way. If the three classes can maintain the “teaching assistant model” and spend money on course maintenance, and evolve with the industry, it may be expected to become the industry standard setter and the benchmark for operation and product courses. .

Unable to hold people’s hearts floating, whether it is a seller or a buyer.

At the beginning of 2021, three classes were sent in groups to sell classes, and even sent private messages to teaching assistants and students at 4 in the morning, which was almost harassment, “I want to cut off the last batch of veteran students before the C terminal is all cut off,” Lin Chen said.

On December 8, 2020, an article titled “Reports and Reflections on the 5th Year of Entrepreneurship” was published on the official public account of the three classes. The three founders sincerely stated in the article:

In 2020, when the fighting was so tragic, three classes started a full sprint, “gained” some revenue growth and helped some users, but “lost” more. In a word, “stalled.” “.

For example, the rapid expansion of the sales team has led to the mentality of “sell the course first, regardless of whether the user is suitable or not” mentality in the three classes. For example, the “employment recommendation” course has caused many users to experience a poor experience, such as radical expansion. The organization of the team becomes unstable and so on.

The founder claimed to have held a “Zunyi meeting” internally, and decided not to regard “business growth” but “user value” and “long-termism” as the first logic of his own thinking and judgment.

“Zunyi Meeting”As a result, Huang Youcan left, and the C-end business he started at the beginning was basically abandoned, and no education for three classes.

What do the three classes do? “Solution” provider. In short, the problem of digitization is solved in all three lessons. The company does not know how to transform? I come; the company needs training, I come; the company needs momentum, I can still come.

The business scope of the three classes has been expanded, and “education” has become an integral part of it. Forced by the situation, it is also a rational choice.

For Hou Xianhui and Bu Mian, there may be a vast space at the B end, so that the three classes that leave Huang Youcan can regain the glory of the past.

Note: Chu Fei, Lin Chen, and Zhang Liang in the text are all pseudonyms.