Self-Improvement Marketplace Betterfly Raises $1.5M, Gets A New CEO

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Looks like it’s self-improvement time for Betterfly, a startup that, as the name suggests, allows users to “better themselves” by signing up for classes and private sessions on everything from belly dancing to web design.

The company just announced that it has raised a $1.5 million Series A from previous investor Lightbank, the Chicago firm created by Groupon co-founders Brad Keywell and Eric Lefkofsky. Betterfly is also naming Todd Sullivan as the company’s new CEO — founder and former CEO Joshua Schwadron will remain as chairman of the board, and the startup says he will still be “active in day to day operations.”

Sullivan, who has been on the job since January, says that Betterfly takes a different tack from other personal service offerings because it’s focused on connecting students with individual instructors, rather than companies. In the same way that Etsy empowers individual artists, Sullivan says that Betterfly empowers “this burgeoning, entrepreneurial class of people” allowing them to turn their personal expertise into a business.

Betterfly launched the beta version of its site in May of 2010. Users can search for “betterists” in different subject areas, read reviews, sign-up for classes or private lessons, and then track their progress. The company now has more than 100,000 registered users.

Sullivan says he plans to offer more premium services that help instructors market themselves and build a personal brand.

Even though he’s new to Betterfly, Sullivan previously founded four companies — including SpiritShop.com, BuyFi.com, and CrowdZone.com. (CrowdZone, a mobile social network, was the DemoPit winner at the TechCrunch 50 conference in 2010.) Sullivan says that when he was thinking about his next project, he actually created a business plan for a company in this market. When he took that plan to Lightbank, they suggested he check out Betterfly instead.