It’s Demo Day at Y Combinator, and the first batch of startups are showcasing their businesses. The founders of one of the companies presenting today are no novices. They’re two of the key members of the team that created the Flip video camera, but they’re not demoing a new device. Former Flip co-founder Ariel Braunstein and marketing executive Scott Kabat have decided to turn their attentions in a totally different direction: education.
Braunstein and Kabat’s new project, Knowmia, is an educational content site that is taking a page out of Sal Khan’s Khan Academy and offering video lectures, but across a wider range of subjects and with a wider variety of teachers giving the instruction.
And while services like Khan Academy are marketing themselves as a resource for teachers (Khan Academy and YouTube for Schools have been pivotal in driving forward the flipped classroom), Knowmia is styling itself as more of an extension to the school day—an afterschool video tutoring service of sorts. To that end, the company is directly targeting students and their parents.
Braunstein and Kabat make a pretty solid case for Knowmia, pointing out the fact that tutoring is a $54 billion global market, and that’s expected to double in the next five years.
“When you look at where parents spend their money, it’s food, shelter, and education,” Braunstein told me in an interview.
Knowmia.com launched last week with 7,000 videos across all of the core subjects. But educational video content is nothing new. YouTube is way ahead of the game with YouTube for Schools and YouTube for Teachers, which filters the content and removes ads so that students get only the lesson they came for.
Knowmia is differentiating itself in a couple of key ways. Because the company is aiming for the supplemental education market, it’s targeting a paying consumer audience rather than strapped-for-cash public schools. Thus, the company is charging for extras, like customized mini-courses and assessment tools. For example, a high schooler struggling with calculus can purchase a mini-course for $10 and Knowmia will build a course based on the student’s grade, the subject, and the specific topic with which he or she is struggling. The mini-courses are curated by teachers and come with teacher comments and quizzes that will measure the student’s progress within an hour.
Additionally, teachers who create videos for Knowmia have the opportunity to make money. When Knowmia makes revenue on a lesson, a portion of that money will go to the teacher who created it.
As the flipped classroom gains more momentum in schools, Knowmia will be one to watch.