STARTUP

Want to Up Your Startup Game? 5 Master Classes to Take Now

A growing online class platform handpicked the greats in various crafts. You can learn their trades for $180 a year.

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BY Julie Walmsley - 21 Nov 2017

Want to Up Your Startup Game? 5 Master Classes to Take Now

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Open education is no longer just democratized access to top-tier university courses, such as MIT OpenCourseWare and HarvardX. There is a low- or no-cost course for every skill in every realm, from languages to time management to coding to gardening, offered by instructors ranging from big name academics to unknowns who've leveraged technology to disseminate their intellectual property and teach strangers across the world on a raft of available platforms. Udemy, Canvas Network, Coursera, and edX are just a few of the growing networks enabling ongoing personal and professional development.

The ambitious among us wonder how the very top of the tops--the Scorceses of film, the Hancocks of jazz, the Williamses of tennis--got there. Enter MasterClass, an online course platform that curates superstar teaching talent.

Some of the courses are just what the founder ordered: Lessons in creativity to design your product, marketing strategies to grow your brand, production skills to make your own music, and good old-fashioned home cooking to take care of yourself in between the daily hustle and pivot.

Individual classes are $90. An annual subscription costs $180 for unlimited learning. That is 12 months from subscription date, not calendar year. Like most MOOCs, you take the classes at your own pace. You can also go back into the courses for future reference, within the year. You might try:

1. Design and Architecture, Frank Gehry

Gehry is known for his shiny metal installations that bend and wend, strikingly incongruous structures in otherwise symmetrical cityscapes. Los Angeles' Walt Disney Concert Hall, Chicago's Pritzker Pavilion, and Las Vegas' Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health typify his whimsical sore thumbs. In this course you'll get 17 classes including the design process, takeaways from case studies of major works, expressing movement, creating with your client, materials and prototyping, and teamwork. Expect a peek into his model archives to watch him explain his creative process when the course opens next month.

Gehry's model of the Walt Disney Concert Hall, a case study in the course.

2. Build Your Brand, Diane von Furstenberg

Diane von Furstenberg can teach you longevity in this 16-class course, launching by the end of the year. She created the iconic wrap dress in the 1970s, with her global brand DVF again an influencer today. You'll use a digital workbook to ideate your strategies for differentiating your brand, with takeaways that apply outside the fashion sector. Among them: "You have to listen. You have to see how people live." Topics include developing product, performing market research, leveraging social media, and mental toughness.

3. Electronic Music Production, Deadmau5

You pronounce his name as "Dead Mouse." His real name is Joel Zimmerman, and he's a Canadian producer who's earned six Grammy Award nominations and a dedicated following. He will take you through 23 classes in music production in this course, showing you how much can be done without much hardware or software.

As with courses on other platforms that teach hands-on skills, discounts and tips are available for the software you do need, but, Co-Founder and CEO David Rogier notes, "We don't have a big emphasis on particular tools or software. By choosing the best in the world to teach, the goal is to learn things from them that will last for the next century, versus learning the newest [technological tools]."

4. Home Cooking, Alice Waters

"I want you to know what kind of food is really alive and seasonal," Alice Waters says in the trailer previewing her forthcoming class. To the average American worker bee, especially entrepreneurs, "alive" means what's not yet expired in the work fridge. The organics pioneer will take you through at least 10 classes when the full course launches in the spring, giving you the skills to cook farm-to-table and quit living out of a takeout box.

 

5. Writing, Judy Blume

Her words helped define your youth, giving voice to the silent observations you thought only you had. And her characters--Deenie, Superfudge, Margaret, Linda (unfortunately better known as Blubber)--are indelible. This is the first online class Blume has taught, though many are interested in her process. She joined the MasterClass faculty by student demand. "Judy was one of the instructors we got the most asks for," Rogier said.

The 24-class course opens early next year. Even if you're not a creative, Blume can teach you how to build something every company needs: An engaging, unforgettable story.