Transforming Education with Coding and AI | Peter Polygalov from Mastery Coding



In this episode, we’re joined by Peter Polygalov, VP of Marketing at Mastery Coding, a company that prepares students for the workforce with future-ready skills in computer science and coding.

Peter shares his insights on the importance of incorporating technology into education, and how Mastery Coding is addressing the gap between the skills taught in schools and those required by the workforce.

He also discusses his approach to marketing and lead generation, and shares his thoughts on the role of AI in education.

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Ernesto Quezada: Pathmonk is the intelligent tool for website lead generation. With increasing online competition, over 98 percent of website visitors don’t convert. The ability to successfully show your value proposition and support visitors in their buying journey separates you from the competition online. Pathmonk qualifies and converts leads on your website by figuring out where they are in the buying journey and influencing them in key decision moments with relevant micro experiences like case studies, intro videos, and much more.

Stay relevant to your visitors and increase conversions by 50%. Add Pathmonk to your website in seconds and let the AI do all the work and get access to 50 percent more qualified leads while you keep doing marketing and sales as usual. Check us on Welcome to today’s episode. Let’s talk about today’s guest Peter of Mastery Coding VP of marketing there with them.

How are you doing today, Peter? Doing well, doing well. It’s a pleasure to be here Ernesto. it’s great to have you on, excited to learn a little bit more. I was going through the website, right? I actually did something that I might want to do or my kid might want to do. So, let’s get into writing your own words.

Can you tell us what mastery coding is all about? 

Peter Polygalov: Yeah, absolutely. So at its core, mastery coding prepares today’s students to meet the challenges of tomorrow through intelligent technology education. We do that by using a research. Backed approach to instruction. We provide standards based computer science, coding, and STEM curricula that combine critical thinking, hard and soft skill development, and project based fun.

All of this is delivered through our turnkey learning platform that makes it easy for educators to succeed. 

Ernesto: Definitely. All right. Awesome. And so that everyone that is listening could get a good understanding of mastery coding. What would you say is a key problem that you solve for clients? 

Peter: Absolutely.

So at its core, I think there’s actually two big problems that we solve. the first problem is that in reality, in a lot of cases, the skills being taught to students in our schools today are not the same skills that are sought after by the workforce. The highest paying jobs, the highest satisfaction jobs today, most often are found in technology and STEM.

Yet, in most states, computer science is still not a mandatory requirement. We are trying to close that gap by preparing students to enter the workforce with future ready skills, professional portfolios of their work in hand, and industry recognized certifications that they’ve attained to demonstrate their aptitude.

This other problem we’re addressing is that of student disengagement. after the pandemic, we’ve seen attendance and student participation drop. National grade averages drop, particularly in math and ELA. and according to Ed Week research, teachers report that students are like 80, 90 percent less motivated than before the pandemic.

Yet the share of students and Gen Zers that watch or play video games is at a stunning 96%. and research shows that incorporating video games into education can enhance student engagement, improve cognitive function, even cause more students to come to school every day. I mean, if there was a video game class when we were in school, would you want to miss that?

Ernesto: I wouldn’t. I mean, I remember I grew up with them. So it was, it was kind of like a, you wanted to play right when you got home. So definitely. 

Peter: Absolutely. So in that sense, we kind of use video games as a hook. we ask students how they would like to create and develop their own games. and we use their passion for gaming, as a vehicle towards college and career success.

Ernesto: Definitely. That’s awesome to hear something like that out there. That’s really interesting. So then who would you say are your primary clients? Are, are they, are they kids themselves or are they schools? who, who would you like to, who do you guys like going after? 

Peter: K 12 schools and districts in the United States. A lot of, a lot of times the people that actually find our product are the teachers, the educators themselves. but then, you know, the decision makers are usually the principals, the district administrators, CT coordinators, et cetera. 

Ernesto: All right. Perfect. Yeah, definitely. Great. And well, so how, how, how do, how does a teacher find you guys, right?

Like what, what would you say is your top client acquisition channel for you guys? 

Peter: Absolutely. We actually have three, so. first and foremost, our website, has grown to be a lead generation machine, so over 50 percent of our traffic comes organically through our organic web search to our website. we also do a lot of proactive, email prospecting, cold emails prospecting.

We have our own, kind of intent based list that we reach out to. so a lot of those, email leads actually end up converting into paying customers. we also are very active on the conference and event circuit. We do anywhere from 10 to 20 conferences a year, to make sure we stay top of mind. And so we’re able to capture a lot of leads at those, events as well. 

Ernesto: Definitely. All right. Awesome. And I am here on the website, MasteryCoding. com. What role does the website play for your client acquisition? 

Peter: Oh, a huge role. it’s funny because, you know, when we started the company a couple of years ago, The website started out as a source of information, but now it’s really grown into a lead generation magnet.

As I mentioned, over half of our qualified web traffic arrives in our website through organic search. we do also get traffic from paid ads, from backlink building, from organic SEO, et cetera. 

Ernesto: All right. Awesome. And is there, I mean, in 2023, what was a huge trend as far as AI, but is there anything, recommendations, tools?

That you would recommend void into 2024 as, as far as to, for lead generation. 

Peter: So if we’re, if we’re speaking strictly on the website, there are a variety of tools that a company can use to gauge, various metrics on their website. One tool that I could recommend is called SEMrush, basically gives you a very.

Great look under the hood of how your website is built. If there’s any backend SEO problems that you need to fix, whether it’s, you know, duplicate titles, whether it’s a metadata not being entered, as well as making suggestions for on page SEO. So it analyzes your keywords and it tells you, Hey, here’s an article that you can write, or here is a piece of content that you create that will attract more of your target audience to your website. But. Recently, we’ve also been doing a lot of work, of, up, up, upskilling, and basically building out our email outreach pipeline. So I know there’s some cools out there as well for email prospecting. 

Ernesto: Definitely awesome. Great. Great. Thanks for the advice there for our listeners, Peter. well, let’s switch gears a little bit and talk about you as a leader, you being the VP of marketing there for Mastery Coding.

What are some key tasks you focus on your day to day work? 

Peter: Yeah, that’s a, that’s a great question. I mean, as a smaller company, we have under 20 employees, you know, everybody ends up wearing a lot of hats. I am blessed and privileged enough that I have a marketing team with four full time people on staff.

So, in that sense, a lot of the, a majority of my role has, comes out to be project management. It comes out to be, Building the evolving strategy, right? Looking at all of our channels of marketing, that we’re spending funds on that we’re spending, bandwidth on and seeing, Hey. Does that actually result in dollar amounts, which ones are performing better, which ones are performing, not as well, and how can we, you know, pivot month to month, pivot quarter to quarter to make sure that, our funds are best spent and that everything is running according, you know, as, as we planned, obviously being a good project manager, a good project leader is very, very essential, when you have a team, you know, as, you know, Even though it’s only four people, you got to make sure that everybody knows, Hey, what are they working on this week?

What are they working on next month? What is expected? What are the, some of the milestones that we are holding them accountable to at the end of the year? 

Ernesto: Definitely. It’s a, you know, like you mentioned, everybody’s got a word, different ads. So. Great to hear that. You know, every, everything is established as, as the way it’s supposed to be.

So great. Great. Kudos to you guys. 

Peter: Transparency. One of my full time responsibilities is being on a lot of sim meetings. So, 

Ernesto: yeah, I would imagine, but, let’s jump into our next section, Peter. It’s a rapid fire question round. So are you ready for them? I think I am. Hit me with a pesto. Let’s start off with, what was the last point that she read?

Peter: a book called Blitzscaling, something our investors actually recommended, basically, in a nutshell, it’s, hey, if funds are not a problem, if bandwidth is not a problem, and you can just throw money at a problem in order to get a first mover advantage, how can you take a business? And become a giant in the space, right?

it basically allows you to understand that, Hey, mistakes are natural. Mistakes can be made. And sometimes, in a, in a, in a period of enormous growth, those mistakes are actually welcome. you know, and it’s basically don’t get hung up on mistakes. Just keep growing, keep growing and keep, reaching for the top.

Ernesto: That’s certainly great. Great, great read there. and Peter, what is one single thing that your company is focused on at the moment? The most. 

Peter: So we do actually, have a new product coming out. it’s called Gamer Math. Basically we use today’s most popular video games to drive standard space MA math instruction.

We saw from the nation’s report card that math scores were in the tank. we also know that gamers are actually doing a ton of math in their day to day. They’re just not realizing it. so we kind of combined the two and we created a one of a kind unique curriculum, where students can learn geometry with Minecraft, where they learn ratios with Rocket League, and so on, and we’ve heard amazing feedback from teachers that have been using it in summer school, as a math intervention course, as an after school extracurricular, and the students obviously love it.

Ernesto: Definitely, and I mean, students, who, what student wouldn’t love it, right? 

Peter: Exactly. 

Ernesto: All right. Awesome. so then if, if there would be no boundaries in technology, Peter, what would be that one thing that you want to have fixed for your role as a marketer? 

Peter: Oh man, just one thing. I’m like less zoom meetings is not an option.

No, I’m just joking. But, you know, one thing, One thing that I’ve actually recently been, been looking for a solution for, is two things. Let me make, let me make it, a little more interesting. So two things. So one thing, is intent based marketing. So that is a gap that I know I, our company has where we get a ton of traffic to our website.

We get a ton of qualified conversions. But at the end of the day, we’re still not aware. Of, who are the people, who are the companies that are looking at our products, because let’s be real, if we only convert 3 to 5 percent of them, there is still the 80, 85 percent that we want to action somehow, that we want to share resources with, that we want, right, we want them to, you know, To take some kind of action on our website, we want to engage with them, somehow, and we don’t have a way to do that because we don’t have those, more, as I call it, mark, intent based marketing.

We don’t have those, web insights as to the people that are coming to our company. so I, I think I, I know I mentioned two things, but I think that is the one kind of thing that takes the cake, that takes priority. 

Ernesto: Okay. Awesome. Great to hear that. Now, if there’s more repetitive tasks that you could automate, what would that be?

Peter: it’s funny, it seems like a small thing, but, setting up Zoom meetings with other team members, I mean, there’s just the amount of times I’ve been on a call where, you know, I have, like, Five department leaders. And like, yeah, let’s get on the call that, about that. Peter, can you set it up? And then I have to go and look at everyone’s calendar and my, you know, my CEO can’t do 10 o’clock, but my head of sales can’t do 11.

And then my VP of, operations can’t do 12. So it’s a, it’s an immense amount of time, to actually spend just to set an appointment, just to, you know, to solve a problem or just to talk about something 

Ernesto: definitely. That I would agree with that. well, and, well, lastly, Peter, you do have a, I mean, like you mentioned a ball of experience already.

What is one piece of advice that you would give yourself if you were to restart your journey as a marketer today? 

Peter: One piece of advice that I would give if I restarted my journey as a marketer today is Don’t ask for permission, ask for forgiveness. I mean, the amount of times that I came to my higher ups with a great idea, where I needed just a little bit of budget to fuel the flames, to start the process, to try something new, and the amount of times I’ve been told, No, right now isn’t a good time.

Let me get back to you next week. Right. And the impact that has on the work that I’m doing in the process is that, you know, any sort of, slow down like that can cause, obviously innumerable, you know, it can, it can, it can be destructive. So. at a certain point, I just decided, Hey, you know, if I really, really believe in something, I’m going to put my money where my mouth is, I’m going to use my budget, without necessarily needing to have everything okayed.

And guess what? In the majority of cases, even if I spend, you know, 15, 000 on the new Google ads campaign and I come back and I can connect it to 30, 000 in results, there’s no world where my boss is going to be unhappy with that. So, as I mentioned, Don’t ask for permission, ask for forgiveness. 

Ernesto: Great advice.

Thanks a lot for that. Albert, Peter, thanks a lot for being on the show with us today. I do want to give you the last word. If someone forgets everything about the interview today, what is that one thing they should remember about mastery coding? 

Peter: Well, it’s been a pleasure and Ernesto, I appreciate, I appreciate being here and appreciate your time.

One thing to remember about mastery coding, we equip your students with future ready skills that are in demand by the workforce. 

Ernesto: There you guys heard it. You get teachers out there, districts, in school, school districts. You could always check them out at masterycoding. com. Thank you so much, Peter, for being on to our listeners.

Thank you so much for tuning in and looking forward to our next episode at Pathmonk Presents.