New Education for the New Economy
The latest from edtech startup Lore: Today the company debuts a rebuilt platform, designed to function more like a social network and less like those dreadful discussion forums you might remember from your educational days.
The rebrand fits with the vision CEO Joe Cohen was excitedly evangelizing when last we spoke. Back in April, the company shucked its original name (Coursekit) and christened itself Lore, a move meant to provide the team with more wiggle room. “Our vision is to be a platform for learning in whatever form,” he told Betabeat, but refused to divulge any details on what that might mean, product-wise.
In a phone conversation yesterday explaining the changes to Betabeat, Mr. Cohen was every bit as irrepressibly pie in the sky:
This semester, Coursekit, an academic social network of sorts that gives teachers and students a way to communicate outside of class, tried a little experiment from the Peter Thiel school of thought.
Coursekit founder Joseph Cohen, a Wharton drop-out and TechStars New York alum, was already familiar with the work of Aswath Damodaran, a professor at NYU’s Stern School of Business with a big academic following. So last year, he cold-emailed Mr. Damodaran to encourage him to join Coursekit’s pilot program. “I don’t think he was looking [for a solution like] Coursekit,” Mr. Cohen told Betabeat by Gchat. “But when he saw what it could do…he and I really hit it off.”
This semester, Mr. Damodaran decided to take it one step further and offer both his Corporate Finance and Valuation classes to anyone around the world, for free*. Considering that an MBA from NYU-Stern costs $100,894 for residents (with a “recommended annual budget of $82,867), we’d say that’s a pretty good deal. (*Beer pong networking sessions with the future 1 percent not included.)
Coursekit, the TechStars company that raised $1 million from Founder Collective, IA Ventures, TechStars and a few angels before the program even started, just launched to the public. It’s a Blackboard competitor, but only sort of, says CEO Joe Cohen, who mentors told us earned the reputation as the Jason Baptiste of the summer class (cocky, but probably rightfully so). Coursekit is a “learning management system,” as the genre is called, to give teachers and students a centralized place to communicate outside of class. Blackboard rakes in $400 million of the $500 million spent on this type of software per year, he said, but Coursekit isn’t interested in that money. “Our business model is not to compete with Blackboard by selling software,” Mr. Cohen told Betabeat. “It’s to create large audiences of students and teachers that we can then leverage for all sorts of things.”
All sorts of things! Like what? we asked.