In the latest installment of Savvy Startups, a series highlighting the personal and professional journeys of some of the most dynamic entrepreneurs, YFS Magazine speaks with Melanie Duncan, founder of e-learning and business coaching startup The Online Edge Academy.
Melanie Duncan is no stranger to entrepreneurship. In 2006 as a college student, she founded Garden Grove, CA-based Custom Greek Threads, an online sorority and fraternity apparel company, with an embroidery machine, from her garage.
Following the success of her online venture Duncan, along with her husband and business partner Devin Duncan, created Luxury Monograms, an e-commerce website dedicated to customized home accessories and personalized gifts.
In 2010, through the experience Duncan gained from building two successful e-commerce companies, she soon realized that other women could benefit from the lessons she had learned along the way. “After I moved to New York City, I began to meet all of these amazing women who were so passionate and talented but lacked a necessary foundation in business and marketing,” Duncan explained in a May 2013 Rue Magazine interview. “Because of my background, I knew that I could save them a lot of time, money and tears by sharing some helpful insights.”
After working with other female entrepreneurs, Duncan was inspired by the questions and hurdles they faced. This experience inspired Duncan to create online courses to help women advance their businesses. In 2011, Duncan launched The Entrepreneuress Academy, a members-only website offering business advice and tips to encourage female entrepreneurs.
Within a year, Duncan realized that her target audience and client base would become more diverse than she first suspected. “I realized I needed to rebrand in order to grow,” Duncan admits. “I didn’t want the academy to be specifically for women, since I had a lot of men joining and wondering if that was okay. The Online Edge Academy is my new vision.” Slated to launch in August of this year, Duncan plans to help women and men alike, work smarter.
Learn how three-time entrepreneur Melanie Duncan transitioned from selling online products to services and why she believes delegation is essential for success.
|Company:||The Online Edge Academy, MelanieDuncan.com|
|Founders:||Melanie Duncan, Devin Duncan|
|Location:||New York, NY|
|Industry:||E-Commerce, Business Coaching Servicees|
How I Got Started
I’ve been running e-commerce businesses for the past six years. I realized there was an opening within the market for a young female to come in and really speak to the strategies, not just mindset, etc. of entrepreneurship. I really wanted to come in and start teaching the nitty gritty of scaling online businesses.
In 2011, Duncan created the Entrepreneuress Academy, an online membership website developed to share instructional videos and host a forum to exchange business advice and tips with female entrepreneurs. In 2013, the company plans to rebrand as The Online Edge Academy to serve a larger and more diverse client base.
This August, The Entrepreneuress Academy, which is still a membership site will transition into The Online Edge Academy. We started to close membership availability over the past year so we could fully go in and do a lot of things differently.
The new site is going to have a lot of really cool features, including the launch of a credit system so when people join they receive a certain number of credits and every month they get access to more credits to put towards specific courses. We will also offer workshops, live training, etc. We wanted to introduce gamification so people would receive rewards and enjoy a more fun, interactive and engaging learning environment.
Duncan, now a three-time entrepreneur, admits that with success also comes challenges.
An entrepreneur’s main struggle is focus and trying to do everything themselves. You see more and more people coming onto the scene as solopreneurs. Research is showing us that entrepreneurs aren’t launching businesses to bring in a 300 person staff. More and more people, women in particular, are launching businesses that they want to run from home and manage independently.
So my goal is to really give them resources and shortcuts and ways to handle running a business — not just marketing, but also fulfillment, customer service and online web presence. I am trying to help people through this struggle, who are mostly solopreneurs, or who run a very small team.
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