This week, we sat down with David Oldenburger, to learn more about his startup, Laer.co, a school & marketplace for students, teachers and educators to work together creating the education that you deserve.
What was the inspiration that made you start Laer?
The original idea began taking form during my graduation. While I was working on my thesis I came upon wall after wall of bureaucratic-based restrictions on what I was, and was not, allowed to do. The reasons behind why I couldn’t do certain things weren’t so much that the ideas were bad or that the university didn’t trust a successful end result. The problem was that the idea was so different from what they expected that the bureaucratically standardised way of grading and judging these projects could not be applied to mine.
This was not the first, and probably not the last time that my way of thinking and doing was clashing with the limited mindset of schools, colleges and universities and so the idea was born: why is there no good form of education that doesn’t try to conform students to standardised testing and actually encourages difference and creativity?
Where were you when inspiration hit you (be honest)?
I think my breakthrough moment came some day leaving my university coming from a disappointing meeting. Being Dutch, it probably happened while I was riding my bike back home; inspiration born out of the frustration I felt of being forced into some standardised way of doing things.
How did you come up with the name?
Laer as a word is actually a combination of the dutch word ‘leer’ (to learn) and the Old English word for ‘learning’ and ‘teaching’ (lore/leornian). I wanted something simple, short and can easily be adopted as a verb, but most of all I wanted something that felt familiar somehow. Contemporary but venerable as well, something that can be trusted. A lot of words and variations came and went and availability of domain names definitely played a part in the final decision.
Is it a solo project — or do you have a co-founder, partner, or other team members?
Laer definitely started as a solo project but I’ve been lucky enough to have found a great partner with a lot of experience in running a business. With the guidance and access to resources (designers & developers) that this has given me we are slowly growing the team where necessary.
What’s next for Laer?
Well, you might imagine that building a platform that has three very separate user types – students, educators and businesses – brings a few caveats with it. At one end we need to bring in enough launch partners to allow for a viable marketplace but on the other end we need keep it small enough to make sure that we can actually build a minimal viable product to support it. Right now we are looking for businesses and educators interested in joining the community and providing services through the platform and we are using their feedback to shape our minimal viable product.
So if you run a business and you have difficulty finding appropriate applicants or if you are an educator and you want to help us change education; send David an email. We are also looking for new investors and/or partners to join us on this exciting quest.
What advice do you have for others that have an idea that they want to get started?
Find someone that can mentor you! Through your peers or perhaps by signing up for startup bootcamps, weekends and the like. Try and get acquainted with other talented people and get someone with a lot of experience interested in your idea. You will appreciate the guidance this someone can offer you!
Where to find out more about Laer:
POP features used:
Do you have a great idea like David did and want to get it off the ground? It’s crazy simple with POP. Just find the name you want and we’ll set you up with professional email and a starter webpage to get it off the ground in under a minute. What are you waiting for? Get started today!