For all the online learning startups fighting for students, there’s no lack of interest by investors.
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Latest example: The online “lifelong learning” startup Curious.com, which is announcing today that it has closed a $15 million Series B round of venture funding. This time it includes GSV Capital, in addition to previous investors Redpoint Ventures, Silicon Valley uber-coach Bill Campbell and Altamont Capital Partners cofounder and Managing Director Jesse Rogers.
The Menlo Park (Calif.) company, which launched last May to provide instructional videos on a wide variety of subjects, will use the money to finance more growth that is already outpacing its own expectations, cofounder and CEO Justin Kitch said in an interview. It’s now offering some 5,000 “lessons” from more than 700 teachers, up from 3,000 lessons and 400 teachers less than three months ago, when it signed a deal with Sunset magazine to provide more professional videos.
More than that, it’s now going to offer courses, or a sequenced bundles of lessons. Fifty of them, on subjects such as learning a language or a musical instrument, are available now. They sell at a discounted price, though in total, they add up to real money–$9 to $49 depending on the size of the course. Students also get some access to teachers.
Indeed, Curious is broadening its money-making plans. Up to now, it has offered free Curious “coins” for people to take the courses, but Kitch said the company now will offer fewer of these promotional coins and let people buy them–with real money, of course.
Curious also is instituting a tip system by which students can send a tip of one, two or five coins if they wish, providing a way to incent teachers to offer more lessons.
Those aren’t the end of Curious’ monetization efforts. “I don’t think we’ve got it all figured out,” Kitch said. He repeated his previous belief that once Curious gets to about a million lesson views a months–it’s more than halfway there now–it will have enough of a base of users that he can try out other business plans, such as one-on-one assistance from teachers.
Although the Sunset videos have gotten a lot of attention, Kitch said most of the growth continues to come from individual teachers doing lessons on do-it-yourself plumbling, how to play a ukelele, and the like.