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With Skillshare, everyone can be a teacher

With Skillshare, everyone can be a teacher

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Published by: Crowdsourcing.org on Aug 15, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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With Skillshare, everyone can be a teacher
By Ryan Kim Aug. 5, 2011, 11:33am PT
The rising people-to-people economy has turned individuals into bed and breakfastowners, art patrons and car rentalproviders. And now if Skillshare has its way, it will turn every person intoteachers and students.The New York City-based startuplaunched its service in April, offering aplatform for users to offer real-world classes of any kind to interested students. Theservice, which rolled out in New York first, is now poised to branch out to SanFrancisco and Philadelphia starting Aug. 15 and is looking to expand to Boston
and Los Angeles later this year. It’s already built a strong community of users, who
are leveraging Skillshare in much the same way Airbnb has transformed short termroom rentals, Kickstarter has evolved project fundraising andGetaround is changing car sharing. So far, Skillshare has helped organize about 500 classes in New York with 2,500students and many more users who have browsed the site. People pay on averageof $15 to $25 per class, 15 percent of which goes to Skillshare. Some classes can
generate more than a $1,000 at a time. The company doesn’t review the classes but
highlights the most interesting ones on its site. They can be about anything fromcocktail mixing and documentary film making to start-up fundraising and buyingyour first home.Skillshare, which has already raised$550,000 in a seed round from Founder Collective, SV Angel and other angels, is talking to investors about another round.
We’ve heard that
Spark Capital and Union Square Ventures are close to
funding Skillshare’s Series A round
with an announcement coming as early asnext week. Silicon Alley Insider also reported Friday that Skillshare is finishing upits Series A funding with
”some excellent investors at a healthy valuation.”
Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/skillshare-is-closing-series-a-healthy-valuation-2011-8#ixzz1UJZPt3h2 (Check out a video interview with Skillshare CEO and co-founder MichaelKarnjanaprakorn. Apologies for the dark video)
Fixing the education system
 Michael Karnjanaprakorn, CEO and co-founder of Skillshare, declined to comment
on the company’s fundraising plans. He said he came by the idea after being
inspired by shows like
the Wire
, which delved into the shortcomings of theeducational system, and his stint volunteering at a charter school in New Orleansafter Hurricane Katrina. His own uneven education experience at the University of Virginia (not so beneficial) and Virginia Commonwealth University (much betterfit) also helped shape his views on the limits of the education system.He said it all came together after asuccessful run through the World Series of  Poker last year, when he was besieged by friends hitting him up for a pokerlessons. He decided to hold a class and began organizing it on Eventbrite but the
thought hit him: why isn’t there an easier way to offer classes to peo
He and friend Malcolm Ong took the idea and some advice from Kickstarterfounder Perry Chen and built Skillshare, which Karnjanaprokorn said is centeredon the idea that everyone has something valuable to teach.
“Our vision is we want to covert every
city into a campus, every address into a
classroom and every single inhabitant into a teacher and student,” he said.
Layering community over a marketplace
Karnjanaprakorn, who previously led theproduct team at Hot Potato before it wasbought by Facebook ,said people areincreasingly open to sharing andtransacting directly with each other,something that was popularized by eBayand Craigslist but has been transformedby the layering of community on top of amarketplace. He said that is helping nudge people away from hyper consumptionto hyper sharing and in the process, giving rise to companies like Skillshare,Airbnb and Kickstarter.Building a community has been the focus of Skillshare in the early days. Bycreating a strong culture early and supporting teachers and students, it can helpproduce a healthy environment conducive to growth, said Karnjanaprakorn.
Managing trust in a P2p community
 A big concern for any P2P economy company is the threat of bad users, somethingthat has been highlighted in the case of Airbnb andits struggles with a couple of rogue renters.Karnjanaprakorn agrees that trust is paramount for companies likeSkillshare. He said classes are not allowed to be one-on-one. And Skillshare is inthe process of building out more features like teacher reviews, badges andachievements as well as a recommendation engine that will help users find the bestclasses. So far, no teacher has been banned from the site though some refunds have
 been made, often because users attend a class that doesn’t fit their skill level.

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