Argentina-based Acamica uses aggressive pricing to get a million users

Four young Argentines are running a school that in two-and-a-half years has managed to attract more than 100,000 Spanish-speaking users worldwide and which seeks to be different as it was designed both to be very flexible as well as to offer either a free or a very low cost education.

“We want to offer a very low price and a very high quality of content,” Juan Badino, 27 years old and one of the founders of Acamica, told Latin Business Daily on Friday by telephone from Buenos Aires.

Availability of all teaching material is $9 per month but some courses can be taken for free by just registering, Badino said.

The purpose of the school is to take any person, even those starting without any technical knowledge, to “go from zero to employable” in the fastest possible time. Multiple jobs are waiting to be filled because the technology industries, like mobile applications, are growing at a speed much faster than that at which traditional four-year schools produce engineers, Badino said.

“The mobile (application development) industry did not exist five years ago and now it employs five million workers,” Badino said.

The speed of technological change is projected to expand even faster in coming years, leading to millions of jobs becoming available because most of the workforce will lack the skills, Badino said.

For example, positions like community managers did not exist five years ago and now companies need someone to manage their social media, Badino said.

Dynamic academies, which inspired the name Acamica, can provide resources to people so that they can become employable in a short time without the need to be information system management graduates, Badino said.

Tools that were mainstream a few years ago like Flash for animation or Dreamweaver for web design have become obsolete. Education needs to adapt to these fast changes, Badino said.

Besides flexibility, the teaching has to adapt to a busier schedule with many more distractions.

Acamica students “can be in a bus, waiting for the train, and use that time to take a class,” Badino said. Classes can be five minutes long maximum and that includes practice.

“The theory is complemented with video exercises. They are almost like a game,” Badino said, adding that Acamica's team now includes eight people.

Some 150,000 people have already registered either as premium users or to learn for free and the expectation is that one million will register with Acamica. The aim is to capture up to 5 percent of those as subscribers, Badino said.

About 40 percent of the users are in Argentina while most others are in Colombia, Mexico and Spain, but they are all spread, Badino added.

Badino, formerly an art director in an advertising agency, said that the main goal is to become ready to adjust to whatever change come along.

“To do that one has to be on top of the technologies and connected to the market,” Badino said.