With $7.5M From Redpoint, Bill Campbell & Others, Curious Launches A Marketplace For Life- Long Learning

Posted: May 7, 2013 in Education, Funding & Exits, Startup, Technology
Tags: , ,

20130507-230814.jpg With the growing demand for video-based online
education, Curious.com is joining the crowd today
with a marketplace that aims help students and
teachers connect around a range of subjects, from
pipe soldering and salsa dancing to jewelry making
and knife sharpening. With 10K learners logging 150K sessions during its
five-month private beta, Curious launches today with
hundreds of short, video-based lessons for people
who want to learn a new skill or rekindle a favorite
hobby. Founded by former Homestead founder and
CEO Justin Kitch, who sold his company to Intuit for $170 million, Curious is taking a page out of Udemy’s
book by not only offering learning content to students
but by allowing teachers to market, share and
monetize their lessons and engage with new
students. To support its launch, the company has raised $7.5
million in Series A financing from Redpoint Ventures,
former Apple Chairman Bill Campbell and Jesse
Rogers, including a personal investment of $500K
from Kitch. Kitch tells us that there are millions of teachers out
there who are itching to share their expertise with the
world but don’t have access to the tools or marketing
skills to bring their knowledge online. The Web today,
he says, is littered with low-quality learning content
delivered in static ways that fail to keep students engaged. With Curious, Kitch wants to make online learning
more digestible and accessible to the average web
surfer, while helping wannabe teachers make a buck
or two on the side by helping them, say, learn how to
brew a tasty Pilsner. The platform allows teachers to
sign up for free and use the site’s “lesson builder” to design, publish and market their own lessons in under
an hour. Teachers can link their related lessons and track how
many views their lessons collect, while enabling
learners to submit projects they drum up during class
and create “Curious Cards” to share their
achievements with the world. Through its comment
and messaging system, Curious allows teachers to work with students individually, while answering their
questions, reviewing projects and providing speedy
feedback. While there are a ton of online lesson platforms out
there, from Khan Academy and Skillshare to Udemy,
CreativeLive and Lynda.com, Curious is looking to set
itself apart by keeping videos short and serving
content in bite-sized, episodic chunks. Students can
engage with the content on their own time, as Curious eschews the traditional scheduling approach, opting
for convenience and immediacy. Learners can stop lessons whenever they want, share
projects during the process or at the end of the lesson
and post questions to the community or directly to
teachers. At launch, the site offers more than 500
lessons from over 100 professional teachers, curated
by Curious’ staff of educators and video experts. The startup wants to help its teachers monetize their
content, but it’s also looking to keep things
inexpensive at the outset, so the most lessons will
cost is a few dollars. Teachers can offer their lessons
for free, or for a few bucks a pop. In another twist for video-based education, Curious
offers its own micropayment system and currency,
called “Curious Coins,” which allow learners to
securely purchase premium lessons without having to
swipe their credit card 15 times. Another nifty feature that helps it stand out from the
crowd is Curious’ internally developed media player,
which breaks each video up into short 30- or 60-
second intervals. Each section is watermarked, which
allow attachments to surface at the appropriate
interval and makes it easy to flip back and forth between sections. Comments pile up below the
videos in a river, while students enrolled in Curious
have the ability to view comments by section. Curious isn’t yet ready to provide its own studios for
teachers, so educators have to provide their own
video, but the platform takes care of everything else.
The Lesson Builder helps teachers split their lessons
into sections, add attachments and text and publish.
Curious’ team is actively perusing the Web to find the best teachers in any given subject, wherever they
live, inviting them to the platform if they pass muster. Curious takes the standard 30 percent for all lesson
sales in its marketplace, although that could be
subject to change going forward. To celebrate its public launch, the startup is offering
new learners $20 of free Curious Coins. For more, find
Curious at home here.

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