How a simple blog highlighted a giant market opportunity for Successful Graduate

How a simple blog highlighted a giant market opportunity for Successful Graduate

Gordon Scott considers employment outcomes to be the true signifier of a successful education. He is an education consultant with a long history in international relations, government and education. He is a past board member of the International Education Association of Australia (IEAA) and past Director of Export for Brisbane Marketing. He was instrumental in establishing Study Brisbane, an initiative of Brisbane Marketing that has grown into one of the largest international student clusters in the country. Gordon also co-authored the Study Queensland strategy for the previous Queensland Government, as a member of the State’s International Education and Training Advisory Committee.

Gordon recognised that international students educated in Australia were often unsure what to do next. They received a terrific education, however were completing their studies without the required soft skills to obtain employment or write a compelling job application. He also identified a growing disillusionment in students when it came to securing graduate or part-time employment whilst studying.  

“I realised someone needed to help students bridge the gap between being on campus and being in the workplace.”

As a result, Gordon started a blog. He blogged tips for students to help them gain meaningful employment. Before long, he had thousands of followers and a clear market for Successful Graduate had emerged. 

Successful Graduate provides online training programs that improve the job readiness of students regardless if they are international or domestic students. The programs provide career entry advice, improve employability skills and teach students how to develop the soft skills that employers are looking for. Students are taught how to combine this knowledge with the hard skills they have learned on campus, and they can choose from training programs that will teach them how to apply for internships / work experience (the Successful Intern Course), paid positions (the Successful Graduate Course) or how to make career related decisions while at high school (the Successful High School Graduate Course).

The road to establishing the MVP for Successful Graduate included working with consultant members of the Career Development Association of Australia (CDAA) to develop training materials and resources. Another significant component was user trials. Gordon highlights the contribution made by TAFE Queensland and their generous staff and students who reviewed training material content and trialled the product. A group of 350 international and domestic student ambassadors at Griffith University known as the “Griffith Mates” also trialled the product for a set period of time. The feedback and learnings from this group directly informed the Successful Graduate MVP.

Gordon says the biggest challenges he faced initially related to developing the best format for the product and finding the right business model.

He leveraged his established relationships in government, business and education, to understand how to best structure engagement with government and institutional clients. As a result of feedback, Successful Graduate is now available in three different business models; Enterprise Licence Agreement, Reseller Agreement and SAAS.  

Enterprise License Agreement (ELA) (B2B) – offering organisations the opportunity to licence the product for use by students in their community. Eg www.studynsw.successfulgraduate.com

Reseller Agreement (B2B2C) – offering a co-branded training site for organisations to market to their community. TAFE QLD is an example that promotes the Successful Graduate program to its current students, future students and alumni via www.tafeqld.successfulgraduate.com

SAAS (B2C) – this model is how Successful Graduate started and continues today where students purchase a 12 month subscription direct from the website www.successfulgraduate.com

The establishment of the ELA and reseller agreement business models have provided the opportunity for Successful Graduate to impact student outcomes at a large scale. Gordon highlights that many students don’t utilise the services of careers teams at their institution, and in most cases these teams have low budgets and low staff-to-student ratios. For these teams, Successful Graduate, provides a scalable support resource that frees them to provide more personal or valuable services such as supporting job placements and internships. In this capacity, Successful Graduate enables education providers to support a much larger number of students and improve their employability outcomes at the same time. This in turn helps the education provider to add to its own value proposition.

TAFE QLD was Successful Graduate’s first major reseller customer; a process that took 18 months of discussions with executives, faculty staff and the TAFE QLD Academic Board. User trials during this period resulted in a 98.15% improvement in student job readiness. Students who completed the program responded that they felt they were receiving quality training that improved their ability to apply for a job, and their confidence to apply for a job. From the strength of the trails, combined with advocacy from involved staff, Successful Graduate was deployed to both domestic and international students across all Brisbane campuses and is now being rolled out to the remainder of Queensland. Gordon said, “it’s an amazing opportunity for us to support TAFE QLD with their value proposition”.

Successful Graduate has also secured major contracts with SEEK Asia and Study NSW, with another major Australian government client soon to be announced. Successful Graduate has been contracted to provide job readiness training at scale to more than 24,000 students in that State.

Successful Graduate is not only improving outcomes for domestic and international students studying in Australia, the program is gaining demand in various international markets as a B2C SAAS model via successfulgraduate.com. The website is accessed by students from over 200 countries; with the largest cohort of registrations coming from India, USA, UK, France, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Nigeria and Indonesia. 

Gordon says the company’s focus in the immediate future is on consolidating and meeting the contractual obligations with clients in Australia. He is also spending time accessing the ASEAN market via Malaysia and Indonesia. Successful Graduate has just entered into a contract with an Indonesian company to supply services across ASEAN markets to support students entering the region’s tourism and hospitality sector. Gordon plans to attend the 2019 ASEAN Australia Education Dialogue in Penang Malaysia in November to expand best practice digital education partnerships and connect with other potential international clients. 

Gordon Scott is the Founder and Managing Director of Successful Graduate. A 100% self-funded Australian education technology startup that launched in 2016.