The generation of people born in the late 1990s and early 2000s, known simply as Gen Z, is a group that has a bad reputation. They are sometimes described as entitled, difficult to manage, lazy and unable to take criticism.
According to a recent study, an average Gen Zer loses attention span after only 1.3 seconds. This means old methods of interaction, be it a targeted ad or a study session, may not work on them.
And with marketing executives scrambling to find approaches to effectively target the young demographic, there are some who say that no one can approach Gen Zers better than, well, fellow Gen Zers.
Matan Yariv, the cofounder and CTO of Minded, is one of them.
Minded is an app that allows users to find enrichment courses through a social media-like algorithm. It highlights courses through brief and entertaining videos, similar to reels on TikTok or Instagram.
“We take the technological accessibility of social media and reroute it onto the world of education,” the 22-year-old entrepreneur tells ISRAEL21c. “We want to be Gen Z’s e-learning gateway.”
After viewing the video, the user can learn more by clicking on additional videos from the same creator before committing to the entire course.
“According to a Massachusetts Institute of Technology study, 93 percent of people who start an online course never finish it,” says Yariv.
“We don’t want that to happen. We want the learning process to be fun and not coerced because Gen Z distrust institutional educational organizations.”
If someone does sign up for a course, Minded takes a percentage of the creator’s earnings as an affiliate party.
Yariv began learning code when he was a teenager, and, as he puts it, “never looked back.”
At 15 he was accepted into an education program organized by Unistream, which teaches youth from Israel’s periphery business and social leadership skills.
“Unistream took all the knowledge and passion that I had and rerouted it into entrepreneurship,” says Yariv, who was part of the program between ages 15 and 17. He adds that Unistream instills values of “impact-driven” entrepreneurship.
“Every business initiative has to generate revenue, otherwise it has no right to exist. But it needs to have a positive influence on the world. I owe this mindset to Unistream,” he says.
When Yariv was 17, he won a national cyber competition that earned him mentions across local news outlets and even an offer from a high-tech company for a full-time job.
He turned the offer down to start his own fintech enterprise. “I didn’t have much social life as a kid,” he laughs.
The fintech startup failed just as Yariv was drafted for mandatory military service. During his service he met Hadar Ashuach — a digital marketing influencer who claims to have earned $5 million in business income before the age of 20.
“Every Israeli aged 13 to 28 knows him,” Yariv explains.
“We met on a train as two soldiers on the way to our bases and exchanged phone numbers. One day he called me and said, ‘I want to found a business venture. Want to join me?’ I said, ‘Yes.’”
The two have been business partners ever since. Ashuach, 22, is the CEO of Minded. However, the road to Minded in its current form was thorny, admits Yariv.
The initial stages
The two began working on the startup in March 2021 while still in the IDF.
“The original idea was to establish some type of fintech social media platform — web3, blockchain [which powers cryptocurrencies] and all that stuff,” explains Yariv.
The pair worked for months on the idea and even attracted interest from some investors, including Unistream founder and tech entrepreneur Rony Zarom.
“He became our first investor. This is a person who builds AI algorithms in his free time for fun,” Yariv laughs.
But, in 2022 the cryptocurrency market crashed and the world was engulfed by an inflation wave driven by the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. “We had a product that was ready for production but our market was wiped out.”
Yariv and Ashuach had to pivot.
“Minded was created after we analyzed market areas that we believed would have an advantage, and how we could migrate the technology from the current platform to the new one as seamlessly as possible,” he says.
At the current stage the creators who offer courses on the platform are influencers in the spheres of education. Some of these influencers already have large followings on social media, says Yariv.
Why not just go to social media for these courses, then?
“Because social media quality content is surrounded by trash and misinformation, and trash will always be more appealing. That’s how Gen Zers learn about things that aren’t even true.”
The Minded Express app is currently in the pilot stage and is not open to the general public. It offers courses in 32 fields of interest and is set to be available on app marketplaces soon, says Yariv.
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