Founder Stories: Lavinia & Lia On Building Remote Skills Academy
In today’s Founder Story, we feature Lavinia, Founder of Remote Skills Academy & Lia, partner & CMO of Remote Skills Academy!
Read on for lessons they have learned from growing their business.
1. Please introduce your business and share your role.
Lavinia: I am the CEO of a business called Livit International and the founder of the Remote Skills Academy. Livit is an ecosystem of companies, services, and people helping entrepreneurs, startup teams and remote workers build amazing businesses, projects, and carers with a positive impact on the world.
We went through a few iterations over the last decade, but our mission has always stayed the same. We founded, co-founded, and invested in a dozen businesses, and helped build 20+ other startups and teams.
In this interview, Lia (my partner and CMO at RSA) and I will focus on and refer to building the Remote Skills Academy, which is an education platform for Indonesians (and not only) who want to learn to work online and live life on their own terms.
I initially started the academy out of frustration from seeing the huge disparity between:
- those “location-independent”, privileged people who can work from anywhere, access opportunities from all across the world, make-dollars-and-spend-rupiah, enjoy their coconut lattes, morning surf, and tropical smoothie bowls in Bali or Thailand;
- and the “others”, who have to depend on low-paid, highly-seasonal jobs within 5 sq. kilometers around where they happened to be born.
I wanted to address that gap and contribute to closing it. It’s a big mission that can’t be achieved by any one organization alone, but a mission definitely worth taking on.
2. How did you prepare for, and go about your launch?
Lavinia: We initially launched the academy as an experiment and in a very organic way. It was the second half of February 2020, and we were aiming for a 20 people cohort as a pilot. At the same time, the pandemic was quickly unraveling, and jobs in tourism were fast disappearing in a cloud of uncertainty.
I remember we launched the landing page and spent 20$ on Facebook ads at the time and, after a week, we were oversubscribed so we closed the applications and took down the ads. Frankly speaking, we didn’t know what we were doing.
Myself and my team had been working remotely for almost a decade at the time, but we didn’t really know how to teach it. So our marketing and designs were probably not the sharpest at the time, but we iterated with the next cohorts and improved a lot – which matters more than launching with perfect designs – if you’re launching when everything is already perfect, you’re launching too late! We then had the privilege to be joined by Lia, who is a marketing maverick. The rest is history – we’ve since upskilled and reskilled almost 5000 young people in Indonesia and a couple of other regions!
3. Since launching, what types of marketing campaigns and designs have worked best to attract and retain customers?
Lia: We’ve been actively using social media marketing with our campaigns and it has worked well to increase our sales to 10x in the past year.
We’re showcasing the real stories and case studies of our alumni who have been successfully working remotely, we show our audiences what’s possible and help them to imagine their dream of working remotely.
Then we show them how, by sharing tips tricks, and tools and also share what we have on our online courses. We take a human-centric approach in storytelling on social media and it has successfully engaged our customers. The channels we’re focusing on are Instagram, TikTok, YouTube and X (formerly Twitter).
4. What have been the most influential brands for your business? Whose branding and marketing do you aspire to and why?
Lia: I always like Masterclass. Their focus on high-quality content and user experience is something we aspire to. It’s just inspiring when you put so much thought into how the students are going to experience the course. The course should not only be useful but also beautiful and pleasant to the eyes.
Lavinia: I find the Write of Passage (which is a course and community for those who want to learn to write online and start businesses online) inspiring. The way they build the experience of being part of their courses is 1. immersive (you get to put the newly acquired skills to practice right away) and 2. community-based (peer learning, accountability and support, which lasts for much longer than interactions with teachers and mentors, and helps you build amazing habits).
5. What are your favorite marketing platforms/tools?
Lia: We’ve been using several tools in our marketing efforts. We definitely love our generative AI tools, especially ChatGPT and Claude. We’re a big user of Canva and Capcut for our images and videos editing. We’ve been using Notion as our planning and brainstorming tool. We’re using Later to schedule our posts. And we still use Meta Business Suite to post ads.
6. Looking ahead, what are you most excited about?
Lavinia: One of my beliefs is that the future is already here, it’s just not very evenly distributed. So I’m excited about contributing to bridging that gap and making it more equitable for thousands of young people across the world. Because being able to work online, being savvy about your digitally-enabled career, and thriving in uncertain environments like the one we live in, all open up a whole world of opportunities all across the world for those in the know.
Lia: We’re excited about expanding our course offerings and entering new markets in the future as we have initiated with Thailand and Hungary. The future of work is global, and we aim to be at the forefront of that change.
7. Who or what inspires and motivates you?
Lia: I get inspiration from books I read (I read 2-3 books a week) and makers on Twitter and LinkedIn. I even make a list of ‘Build in Public’ people on X. My students motivate me. Seeing their progress and be successful in their life is one of the most rewarding things for me.
Lavinia: I’m inspired by people aiming for excellence across any and all fields. I constantly try to get to know and experience some of the best things humans have created in business, sports, arts, culture, cuisine, as much as I can and hopefully bring tiny bits of those things into what I do.
Working with our teams across various companies and projects under the Livit umbrella motivates me: seeing us all learn and evolve and put a positive dent in the world is extremely fulfilling. And, lucky, me, I get to do it every day!
8. What are some lessons you’ve learned along the way that you would share with entrepreneurs hoping to launch or who have just launched?
Lia: Always aim for the stars but you can still walk to where the rocket is parked. Action is the key and inspired action is the most powerful.
Lavinia: Three things that come to mind are:
- Be ready to pivot and adapt – some (most?) of the best businesses out there didn’t set out to be what they are today, but changed and adapted, sometimes drastically
- Chase real metrics rather than vanity metrics (likes, followers, growth-only with no clear path to profitability, etc).
- Take advice but think critically and do it your own way: 99% of what you read/hear in interviews, on stages, and at events will not apply to your particular business case, and that’s ok.
9. What do you believe are the qualities of a good entrepreneur? And what makes a team successful?
Lia: A good entrepreneur is agile, they’re able to notice a trend early and make a necessary maneuver to reinvent the company and also willing to keep learning to understand the fast changes of the world.
A team is successful when they’re working with aligned culture and goals, understand their numbers and the expected end results, resourceful and creative with the assets they have, communicate well with their peers and their leaders. Strictly no drama!
Lavinia: A good entrepreneur sees challenges as opportunities and acts on them. Good entrepreneurs imagine and “author” a next, better version of reality (in a smaller or a bigger way), and gather a great team around them to forge forward on that path.
A team is successful when it is highly aligned in terms of goals and vision, but loosely coupled (as in not micromanaged), and operates in an environment of psychological safety, as we know from all the Google studies. A team is also successful when it offers its members autonomy, mastery and purpose. I highly recommend Dan Pink’s book “Drive” on this topic.