Bloomberg Businessweek:


EDUCATION BUSINESS / JANUARY 5, 2021

One Day University Online. A Pandemic Pivot Hits a Home Run 

The pandemic has created upheaval in many industries, causing previously secure businesses to shutter. On the other hand, it has allowed some companies to pivot and adapt by introducing fresh services to existing and new clients. One Day University has taken their successful event company, and moved it online much to the delight of people spending much more time at home. In less than one year, CEO Steven Schragis and his team have ushered One Day University into a thriving online community.

“Our staff has been working around the clock to make this transition happen for our customers. They’ve been amazing “ Schragis said.

One Day University has persisted over many years to become the company it is today. It all started in 2007 when Schragis got the idea of creating One Day University when he was dropping his daughter off for her freshman year at Bard College. When they arrived, the school had set up lectures around the campus for parents to experience what a day in the life would be like for their kids. Schragis, like many others in the room, thought it would be really great to spend some more time in a setting like this.

Much to his surprise, Schragis found that getting access to highly esteemed professors was not as hard as he thought. Even better was that almost every professor he contacted was excited about the company and the opportunity to participate. With traction in the educational community and a few well-attended events under their belt, One Day University closed their first year of business in 2007, grossing over $300,000. Ten years later, that number had grown to over $6,000,000. Hoards of people started showing up to the events, sometimes as many as 4,000 people per event. People from all over the country would travel alone, with their spouses, and friends to spend a day of learning and fun.

As the company began to expand, so did the need for operations across the country. Schragis, and his new co-Director, Kevin Brennan hired local hosts in cities to help facilitate the demand. Schragis credits Brennan for organizing the national system and getting operations set up so the company could grow. With a core team of 12 employees, One Day University was soon in 61 cities in the US, and also expanded into Canada by the end of 2017. In 2020, the company was well positioned to have its highest grossing year ever. However, in March 2020, One Day University found themselves in the same position many other companies did, canceling everything.

In their biggest pivot to date, the team at One Day University decided it was time to make the move online. They had been recording their live events for nearly two years, and decided to start uploading their content for viewing purposes. These recordings would serve as an additional bonus to all the new content that would be broadcast live from their site.

The idea of membership was born and has served as a great foundation for business on the site. In less than 3 weeks, over 3,000 people signed on as members, and now there are over 40,000. The online membership program, which costs $7.95 per month, is modeled after that of Netflix or Spotify. You have access to a library of content, but will also have access to live events that are streamed five days a week. One Day University has a reputation for interesting topics, and has recently added many timely issues to the schedule including topics such as What FDR would do now?, and learning from top professors about the Spanish Flu in 1918.

One Day University is adapting to make the online community just as welcoming as their in person events. With so many people who were previously unable to come to the in-person events, the company is glad to see an uptick in interest in the online learning concept. Many members opt to watch lectures as they happen live, but there is always the option to go back and view them later. One Day University continues to deliver a top-notch service for people looking to spend their time learning about interesting topics from the best minds in the country.

Learning for learning’s sake, and honoring great scholars is at the heart of One Day University. When Schragis looked to what would be next for the company, he wanted to focus on this principle. Unlike other company’s that promote learning to gain skills and obtain a better job, One Day University exists for those who love to learn. This is what makes One Day University unique, and what their next incarnation might look like.

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