The “mini MBA for startups” that takes less than 24 hours and costs you nothing

Vicki Shiel, March 14, 2019 3 min read

If someone offered you the chance to get a mini MBA for startups in less than 24 hours completely free of charge, would you take it?

Well that’s *precisely what we’re offering.

The Digital Business Academy is an online learning platform that offers users 85 courses covering the key topics all entrepreneurs and startups need to pick up and master, ranging from marketing, brand, communications and sales, to product, operations, people and finance. And it’s been described as being a “mini MBA for startups” by one of the UK’s most successful tech entrepreneurs, Sarah Wood, co-founder and chair of adtech company Unruly.

A “mini MBA for startups”

“If I was starting Unruly now I’d be all over the Digital Business Academy. I’d be doing those courses back to back. It’s fantastic because it offers doable, actionable, bitesize bits of learning. So you can spend 15 minutes learning about financing for startups and then you can try putting it into action.”

Wood, who is also a board member at Tech Nation, added: “It’s learning for doers. And if you’re going to learn digital, you’re going to learn it by doing. That’s what I really like about it. It’s like a mini MBA for startups.”

What’s all this about MBAs?

MBAs are a popular choice for business people looking to make it to the top of their field. In the UK the cost of an MBA course varies dramatically, from £6,200 at the University of Wales Trinity St David, to an eye-watering £78,500 at the London Business School. And that’s without living costs.

The Digital Business Academy is not an MBA degree, nor is it an academic qualification. But it does offer founders and their startup teams an opportunity to learn how to tackle the most common startup challenges. And unlike most degrees and traditional courses, there are no fees, no deadlines, and no rules for completion on the Digital Business Academy – users can complete the courses in their own time, and their own running order, depending on which topics they choose to cover first.

Digital Business Academy in Numbers

What do the 85 courses cover?

Tech Nation runs a range of programmes tailored to startups, scaleups, and the growing UK tech ecosystem. So we know first hand what founders and their teams struggle with when starting and scaling their businesses. The Digital Business Academy features courses aimed at helping startups tackle those exact challenges. And the courses draw on expert insight shared on the organisation’s growth programmes including Future Fifty, Upscale, Rising Stars and Founders’ Network.

Specific courses include ‘Choosing the right marketing tools’, ‘Calculating your marketing costs’, ‘How to get your first 100 customers’, ‘Raising your first investment funds’, ‘What to include in your pitch deck’, ‘How to manage relationships with investors’, ‘How to prepare for Series A’, ‘How to set up your board’, and ‘How to create a company culture and use it to retain talent’.

How does it work?

It’s quick and easy to start, and courses are designed to take as little as 15 minutes to complete, meaning it will take less than 24 hours in total to complete all 85 courses. It’s up to users how many courses they choose to do each day, week or month (and both unlikely and unadvisable that they would complete them all in a single 24-hour period).

The courses are completely free of charge, so there’s no cost to you or your business for registering or completing courses. In fact, you can earn rewards for completing courses and redeem them on things like co-working spaces and mentoring.

What do current users think about it?

“Our learners often tell us that the DBA gave them the confidence to take the next step with their business. That’s so inspiring,” says Edward Willis, learning lead at Tech Nation. “We know there’s a million things to think about when you’re starting or growing a business. Our courses are short, practical and focused on the challenges every founder faces.”

To date 28,310 learners have registered to use the Digital Business Academy and users rate the courses as 4.4 out of 5.

Chris Gyamfi is the founder and CEO of Osess – an online event marketplace. He says the platform has been crucial to the growth of his business. “The Digital Business Academy helped me understand what was needed when raising my first investment, I recommend this to first-time founders as this has been essential to the growth of my startup.”

*When we say ‘precisely’… It’s likely to take a total of around 24 hours to complete all 85 courses over a period of time, depending on the user’s schedule and learning style. Courses are designed to take just 15 minutes to complete, meaning it will take less than 24 hours in total to complete all 85 courses. Users can decide how many courses they choose to do each day, week or month.


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Digital Business Academy, Digital Business Academy, Aspiring, Early Stage