The Big Know Raises $3 Million In Funding To Mix Brands, Education


The Big Know, the ‘Brand as Teacher’ company, has successfully raised $3 million during a Series A funding round. The Big Know startup, which launched last October, aims to use the funding to accelerate its growth through the acquisition of new technologies and new staff.

The funding round was led by LFE Capital. Other supporters include Steve Shank, the founder of the Capella Education Company, GoKart Labs said in a news release.

The Big Know helps brands and companies offer online courses to consumers through select, well-designed online courses. The idea is that top brands and firms have instrumental expertise and know-how they can share with people to help them transform their lives for the better. The Big Know believes brands can create an interaction channel with consumers in which meaningful insights can be shared.

The company has already offered digital courses commissioned by Life Reimagined, an AARP initiative that helps people achieve their goals, and UnitedHealthcare, a Minnesota-based healthcare group. Don Smithmier, the founder and CEO of The Big Know said that the success of the first few courses has shown:

“[H]ow much consumers love great online courses made possible by trusted brands. We are excited to partner with LFE Capital for this initial round of funding. This has tremendous implications for not only the growth of our company, but for the wellbeing of people who want to move their lives forward and for the brands who want to make it possible.”

A new set of courses will launch in 2016, Twin Cities Magazines says, with the most prominent so far being a happiness course by Dr. Sonja Lyubomirsky titled “Be Happy: How To Bring More Joy To Your Life” and “Discover What’s Next: Living Your Life on Purpose” by Richard Leider.

The courses are multimedia-rich and include text, video, animation, quizzes, and discussion groups. There’s no enrollment fee and no credit upon completion of the short courses. A primary supporter of The Big Know, LFE Capital, said through its Managing Partner Leslie Frecon:

“The Big Know is a terrific fit with our investment focus – products and services that help people lead healthier lives. She added: “Don Smithmier and his team bring tremendous expertise and a powerful vision to this innovative new platform.”

The Minneapolis-based education startup aims to ‘change lives through the power of education’. The expert-created courses focus on improving learners’ physical well-being and mental health by offering them the tools to cope with stress and anxiety and illnesses such as diabetes.

Upcoming courses include: “Good at Stress: How to Transform the Stress in Our Lives,” a three-week course taught by Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D, and a four-week course on longevity by the New York Times best-selling author of Blue Zones, Dan Buettner, called, “Live Longer, Better: Lessons from the World’s Healthiest People.”

The Big Know is an innovation-centered company and one of the fastest growing private businesses in the country according to Inc.. GoKart collaborates with brands that can have a positive impact on people’s education, culture, health, wellness, and wealth.

So far, there’s insufficient statistical data to explain whether the project has been beneficial for brands and companies. However, Don Smithmier, CEO of The Big Know, told Marketing Land that these branded courses are ‘superior forms of marketing’ because they engage users at an unprecedented level and improve the attitude of the user/learner toward a brand.

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