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Curious, a learning marketplace, launches with $7.5M

Former Homestead CEO Justin Kitch wants to help teachers become entrepreneurs

Financial trends and news by Bambi Francisco Roizen
May 1, 2013 | Comments
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/2f1f


In the online world, where matchmaking has gone well beyond dating, marketplaces are all the rage. This is creating a whole new opportunity for new middlemen to emerge - those that help unlock new talent (supply), and pent-up demand.

Justin Kitch, who founded Homestead and sold it to Intuit for $170 million in 2008, is hoping his new venture - Curious - will bring together would-be teachers and learners eager to find them.  

Curious announced Wednesday that it's raising its curtains and that it's secured $7.5 million in funding, with Redpoint investing $7 million. Kitch put in the initial $500,000. Right now, there are 100 teachers on the site, ranging from guitar teachers, language teachers, to teachers who show you how to refinish cabinets. There are about 500 lessons offered. 

"We are trying to be a marketplace for lifelong learners," said Kitch. 

As is the case with many entrepreneurs, the decision to build their products and services typically comes from a pain point.  After Kitch left Intuit, he decided to take up guitar lessons and work on his house, including the building out of a water irrigation system. His a-ha moments came when he found a guitar teacher who was a great teacher, but with very few customers, and when he found a clerk working in a plumbing supply shop who sketched out how to install a water irrigation system. This tutorial saved him thousands of dollars.  

What he realized was that there were a number of people who had the know-how but no real tools to showcase them. 

Sure there's YouTube, where many people learn how to tie a bow tie to play piano to cross country ski. And it works for many people - learners and teachers. But Curious wants to go one step further and allow teachers to show not just videos, but documents, and to allow teachers to be interactive. For instance, Curious encourages teachers to have a gamification element in their courses every 90 seconds. So if you're learning something, you'd have to demonstrate you know what you're doing before you move on to the next thing. It's a great way to keep students engaged. I know. I have a son who's learning how to code on Codeacademy, which gamifies the experience, and another son who's learning how to read music by playing an online game. These are far better learning experiences than straight non-stop videos of a lecture.

Kitch hopes to apply some structure to all of its courses by helping teachers figure out how to add in those elements. This is what makes them different from Udemy, another online education site that's raised $16 million to aggregate teachers of all sorts. But with Udemy, much of the lessons are long-form video, said Kitch, adding that Curious hopes to offer much more interactivity with its lessons. In addition, the lessons on Udemy are pretty expensive, some like "Become a Certified Web developer" are $200 a package. 

Curious courses are more bite-sized, like Apple apps that go for $1 to $5. And they sell like apps. Teachers don't make money off the advertising (like they would on YouTube), rather they make money on the courses sold. Curious takes a 30% cut. 

Watch my video with Kitch to learn more about Curious.

 


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Curious.com, Inc.
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Description: Curious.com, Inc. offers an innovative and engaging marketplace that connects lifelong learners with exceptional teachers around the worl...
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