Udemy Scores $1M In Seed Funding, Aims To Democratize Online Learning

Udemy, which aims to democratize learning on the Web by basically letting anyone teach and school themselves through online courses, has raised $1 million in seed funding from a host of top notch investors to ramp up hiring efforts.

The Founder Institute-incubated startup received funding from an impressive list of angel investors such as Keith Rabois, Rick Thompson, Russ Fradin, Benjamin Ling, Larry Braitman, Jeremy Stoppelman, Naval Ravikant, Paul Martino, Josh Stylman, Mark Sugarman‘s MHS Capital and Dave McClure‘s 500 Startups fund.

Proud disclosure: the company was co-founded by TechCrunch / MobileCrunch writer Gagan Biyani. They grow up so fast.

Here’s how Udemy – the name stems from the catch phrase “academy for you” – works: after signing up, via the registration form or via Facebook Connect, you can browse the available online courses, including a number of academic courses from leading universities.

If you find something if interest, say Seduction Language 101, you can subscribe to the course and share it with your friends via the usual social networks.

Educators (which can be real teachers, wannabe teachers or, well, anyone else) can create their own course(s) and webinars in minutes. Using Udemy’s content platform, they can upload texts, videos and presentations and create structured courses that can be followed by users asynchronously. The site is inherently social, too, as educators can engage and interact with users and subscribers via online discussion boards and more.

My fear is that this degree of openness will ultimately result in generally low quality of content and be viewed by many a consultant, author, conference speaker, etc. as just another means of online promotion rather than an honest way of passing on knowledge to others via the Web, but only time will tell if that fear of mine is justified.

Interestingly, Udemy also provides instructors with a way to host live video conferences over a proprietary tool, which includes a whiteboard feature, presentation viewer, chatroom and a file-sharing component. The startup says over 20 live webcams can stream on Udemy Live, while more than 1,000 users are able to watch a session simultaneously.

Biyani tells us Udemy, which launched on May 11, has had over 1,000 instructors create over 2,000 courses to date. Since its launch, the site has attracted nearly 10,000 registered users.

Will you be next? Why (not)?