So Refresh and So Clean
Skillshare recently opened up nationally after going city-by-city while it ironed out the kinks in its democratized teaching platform; now the startup is up to 10 employees, with two starting next week and three more hires to be announced soon, says CEO Mike Karnjanaprakorn. But he had a bigger announcement today: a fairly drastic redesign, meant to reorient Skillshare to its core competancy.
New York-based peer-to-peer education start-up Skillshare, whose co-founder and CEO Mike Karnjanaprakorn recently typed up an article on how to launch a start-up for just $5,000, raised just enough money for its product team and a little wiggle room back in January. But this week the start-up announced two major feature releases and a $3.1 million funding raise from Union Square Ventures and Spark Capital. “We’re at the point where we’re not asking, ‘will this work,’” Mr. Karnjanaprakorn said. “But, ‘how can we grow this.’”
When the Skillshare team realized they had a winning formula–a platform where anyone with a skill to share can propose to teach a class which then becomes available when a minimum number of students sign up–and when they noticed competitors starting to move in, they decided it was time to staff up and start grabbing land. Zach Klein, a longtime adviser and current officemate, “basically led our round” the first time, Mr. Karnjanaprakorn said, but the CEO stuck with investors he knew: Union Square Ventures’s Albert Wenger and Spark Capital’s Mo Koyfman, which is how Skillshare was able to close its round fairly quickly.
Continuing education start-up Skillshare, founded by former Hot Potato head of product Mike Karnjanaprakorn and veteran CTO Malcolm Ong, has been growing slowly since it first started offering classes in New York City in the spring after raising $550,000 from Founder Collective, SV Angel, Collaborative Fund and angel investors including Meetup’s Scott Heiferman and TechStars’s David Tisch. “When we first launched, we got a lot of feedback like ‘why is this closed, why isn’t this open everywhere?’ But for us it was like we really abide by the lean start-up philosophy,” Mr. Karnjanaprakorn told Betabeat last week.
He and Mr. Ong decided to limit Skillshare, which lets users offer small, paid classes in anything from computer programming to making chocolate, viewing New York as a sandbox for the company to work out any bugs and, you know, see if anyone would want to use it.
Turns out they did. “We have teachers that make a lot of money on the platform, thousands of dollars,” he said, citing one teacher who does a class in Ruby on Rails.