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Couldn’t Launch Database Bootcamp, why?

Occasionally demand doesn’t match desire, or something like that.

As of the writing of this blog post, we have formally canceled our Database Bootcamp event. Typically, you would just cancel the event and move on, but we thought we would share our process with you and see if we can learn anything else from the experience -- full transparency-style.
About a month ago we started promoting Database Bootcamp, a nine-week, two nights a week bootcamp covering MySQL. Our database curriculum included everything from installation, setup, creating databases and tables, inserting data, selecting data, data integration and even database administration and security. We thought it sounded like a great bootcamp and we honestly thought we would sell out the 15 slots. In fact, we even pre-created a blog post announcing the sell-out and how happy we were, I guess we can unscheduled that post.
When we canceled the event we had five students signed up. The student breakdown was: one student we did not know, one past Code Bootcamp student and three students from one of our sponsors. Four out of the five were paying a discounted price so our gross costs at the time were about $2,000 far from the $9,000 we budgeted.
So what happened?
Internally we have asked ourselves why a number of times. The email threads are long and frequent as we all attempted to make sense of the process, bouncing ideas back and forth over the past two weeks.
Was the topic on-point with what people around Sioux Falls wanted to learn?
That’s a tough question, maybe the answer is a strong no. We still have not fully built the curriculum, this pre-sale of Database Bootcamp was intended to determine if people were willing to pay for the bootcamp before we spend the time to develop the program. We would never build a program and then sell it — and this blog post proves why that’s a bad idea.
Was the price of $600 too high or too low?
We do not think so, we think it was right. Other similar courses offered by local business with database courses can cost over $2,000. This is not an exact comparable because we weren’t offering any certification, but we are at least in the ballpark. During our campaign, we never had a single person contact us and say the price was too high. We don’t think the price tag turned away many, if any, serious candidates.
Was our website poorly done or uninformative?
We don’t think that was the case, our site used a SplashThat template that was similar to other event sites. The content was tight and on topic. Judge for yourself.
Database Bootcamp Website
Was our message or marketing bad?
This could be why -- marketing is hard -- but we’d love your feedback. The website had decent traffic with over 225 unique visits, more than we usually get. Even if 6% were interested, we would have hit our 15 student limit and those are not unreasonable expectations.
Website statistics
Was our social media campaign bad?
In addition to your standard social media posts of about 10 Facebook posts and 50 Tweets, we also wrote a nice blog post and sent two emails to our mailing lists. Three of the Facebook posts were boosted with a total Facebook reach of about 2,500 at a cost of just over $25. And those boosted posts had good interaction as well.
Facebook boost status
What do you think?
As standard practice, we did not completely build out any curriculum or bootcamp before knowing that it would be profitable, so little was actually lost by this cancellation. That being said, there were probably 40-plus hours worth of pre-planning and marketing effort.
If you have any insight into our process, we would love to hear from you. Heck, we’ll buy you coffee if you want to share, send us message.
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