Skillshare Tops 3mil Users, 5k Courses, Attracts Investment

(Photo: Luis Llerena, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Luis Llerena, Creative Commons)

EdTech startup Skillshare Inc. has raised a total of $12 million in a round of venture funding to be put toward increasing its marketplace of "bite-sized, self-paced courses for creators," in the words of founder and CEO Michael Karnjanaprakorn.

The series B investment was co-led by Amasia and Omidyar Network, and was joined by Union Square Ventures and Spark Capital. The funding brings the total amount raised by the company up to $22 million. The company raised $3.1 million in its last round of Series A funding in August 2011.

Skillshare, which has 40 full-time employees at its New York building, plans to use the funding to increase its employee base to be double what it is now, expand their international efforts, and add new courses and features that instructors and subscribers have asked for, writes Lora Kolodny for TechCrunch.

Karnjanaprakorn noted a number of ways in which his company is different from the other online education platforms available today:

"As a low-cost subscription business in a largely high-cost and a-la-carte driven industry, we see ourselves as the Spotify to the industry's iTunes," he said.

He went on to say that 650 classes were added to the platform last month alone, with enrollment reaching beyond 3 million subscribers, up from 2 million at the beginning of 2016. He added that this can be seen on a global scale as well, with 20% of the top teachers and 40% of subscribers being located outside of the United States. Subscribers to the service can be found in over 180 countries, and 85% of that growth has been the result of word-of-mouth.

Skillshare is currently available at a cost of $10 per month for subscribers. For the cost, users gain unlimited access to the courses and video tutorials available.

The company, launched in 2010, shows a total of 3 million enrollments as well as offering an increasing number of courses, which has already reached 5,000. Other user metrics, such as daily active user count, subscriber churn, and the typical amount of time a user spends on the site were not made available by Skillshare.

A variety of instructors can be found on the site, such as locally acclaimed chefs and executives in the fields of technology, venture capital, and advertising. The most popular courses are taught by graphic designer Paula Scher, designer and technologist John Maeda, and Plated head chef Elana Karp.

Skillshare board member Albert Wenger of Union Square Venture said he appreciated the "open platform" method used by the company, which offers anyone with or without a subscription to teach using the company's site. He added that doing this allows for an increase in business.

"As available content on the Skillshare platform expands there is more for students to learn which means more subscribers which is better for teachers. It is a virtuous circle."

Wenger went on to discuss the features offered by the company, which include "projects," noting that they encourage the formation of a community by teachers and students rather than simply to transact one time.

However, the company faces increasing competition from other online education platforms including CreativeLive, Masterclass, Udemy, LinkedIn-owned, as well as online courses offered from Stanford and MIT Open Courseware, among others.

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