Posted: 1 year ago
Author: Nina Gomarteli

UpWay- Organized Marketplace for Finding and Purchasing Courses in Georgia

Course creators in Georgia will have it easier than ever to reach their potential customers by posting their programmes on UpWay platform. While it allows users to navigate and find whatever their searching for, whether it's training, sports lessons, or educational courses. The user will be able to filter and compare courses by category, price, location, and rating, sign up and enroll in the desired course. Co-founder of UpWay, Mariam Tsanava tells CBW about their concept and goals. 

How did you get your ideas and concept to found Upway?

The idea of creating “Upway” was born a year ago when one of our teammates required a GMAT exam course and could not find one.It took her around a month to find the course that fit all of her needs because the web search was ineffective. The only way one can find courses is through friend referrals, which in most cases cannot meet the needs of a course seeker because of the price, location or other details.

Whilst discussing the matter we realized that, at some point, we had all encountered the same problem, because there is no organized method of finding courses in Georgia. This insight has created a unique opportunity for us.

Our team then decided to examine this matter thoroughly. After researching the course seekers and course providers, we became aware that on the one hand, the customers do not have sufficient information on their options and on the courses in general, so they make their decisions based on recommendations from other people. On the other hand, the ones who are selling the courses usually are not able to use all of their potential because of the lack of effective advertising and a chaotic registration system. Qualitative research once again gave us clearance, that there was a huge gap between the supply and the demand for the courses and that the market is ready for the marketplace like UpWay.

In order to prove the financial profitability of the idea, we carefully researched the market, its worthiness and were convinced in the willingness of the businesses to pay a fee for our services. 

For the sake of our project’s progress and its improvement, we decided to take part in TBC bank’s contest -“Startup Sabbatical”- for their employees. The winning team of this contest is granted a 6-month paid leave, keeps their jobs for them and additionally, offers them training and special terms on the loans. Granting #1 place through up to 100 contestants and winning the contest finally reassured us to implement the idea, seek for the partners and our potential customers.

What are some of the challenges of starting your company?

We are well aware that there are many challenges ahead of our journey. For now, the main one  is to create a customer friendly web page and successfully launch the project with the targeted marketing campaign. At the moment, our team is researching all the possible funding opportunities in Georgia to be able to find resources for the launch phase. 

Another challenge that all 3 of us are facing is a hectic workflow that consists of having a full time job at one of the most successful companies in Georgia (TBC) and working all night on our startup project. Dividing our time and tasks wisely and finding time for all different issues is one of our major challenges at the moment. Having so much going on helps us to stay even more focused and organized.

All the different stages in the startup development process have its challenges that we fully recognize and try to be grateful for all the opportunities we have and enjoy the process.

What's your main goal you try to achieve with your customers

The platform is a marketplace in the field of complementary education, the analogue of which does not exist on the market yet. 

Our goal is to cover this field and eventually add a wide range of categories including professional advancement, exam preparation, languages, certificate courses and training, various classes for kids or self-improvement seekers.

For the first time in Georgia, course seekers will be able to:

  • Search, compare and buy the courses from a trusted source in one space and get the seamless brand experience
  • Purchase courses/masterclasses as a gift
  • Later on, Receive offerings based on their profile and behavior 

UpWay provides businesses with: 

  • Digitalization and simplification of course registration system
  • Digital payment process 
  • Direct access to the target audience 
  • Customer satisfaction management
  • Sales stimulation through communication mix and offerings
  • Production of analytics necessary for business development and consultancy based on it

Our main job is to create an excellent service for our people and accompany them on their journey by being present when they want to learn something new or just have fun by starting a new hobby etc.

Tell us about your team and get us through your working day

Our team consists of 3 lead members and each of us take on the company’s strategic directions:

  • Product development and operations- Marika Abuladze
  • Marketing communications and sales- Mariam Canava
  • Finances and partner relations- Marisha Gogolauri 

Marika Abuladze got her bachelor’s degree in Boston, at Brandeis University and spent a year at UCL campus (London) as an exchange student. After finishing her studies, she returned to Georgia and shortly started working at TBC bank. Soon, it will be three years since she’s a part of the TBC team now as a Marketer of TBC’s digital transformation team.  Marika will take care of business development and expansion, and at the same time, she will work on the refinement and the improvement of daily operations.

Marisha Gogolauri will cover finding strategic allies and ensure their constant satisfaction. Marisha studied at the Free University’s business school “ESM”. From very early on, since her second year, she started her internship at TBC bank and it is 3 years now since Marisha has been working in a marketing team focusing on business support.  Marisha will also lead the financial part of the project. 

Mariam Canava will be responsible for Upway’s brand’s development, visual identity and marketing communications. Moreover, she will lead sales promotion and offering strategy. Mariam, during the early years of her studies at Caucasus University, went as an exchange student to New York University in Prague. She received her master’s degree in Barcelona (EAE Business School). Mariam used to work at the Mobile World Congress 2018 (the largest tech congress). Now it has been more than two years since she has been a part of TBC’s marketing team and is working on brand development and substantial collaborations. Mariam also teaches marketing and communications at 3 leading universities in Georgia.

Our team combines the distinctive experience of working with small and medium businesses, leading complex projects and shares knowledge in development of multifaceted websites.   

We usually get together at evenings and weekends  and work until very late to catch up on updates and upcoming tasks. For now, we concentrate on developing a web and initial marketing strategy and finding reliable partners throughout our journey who will help us.

Moreover, we share some hobbies and interests and try to organize different activities like hiking, gym group exercises or just having some drinks at a bar.

What is the current stage of development for the platform and what's ahead of you?

At the moment we are working hard with web developers and UX/UI teams to find the best solutions for our web project. Moreover, at this moment we are taking part in a startup accelerator program by - IMPACT HUB TBILISI  and with the help of our amazing mentors try to find investors and excel our business and market entry plan. This program helped us a lot to once again evaluate the work we have done and meet up and get feedback from leading professionals in Georgia.

Ahead of us there are many projects and competitions in order to find resources and let everyone know about UPWAY. We are very excited and motivated to face the challenges and see how our startup will grow and reach its full potential.