You might think the MOOCs movement had saturated the edtech space. But Kunerango, an Italian startup that’s built a SaaS platform for instructors to create branded online schools where they can sell courses, reckons there’s room for not-so-massive alternatives.
In other words, it’s reaching out to the scores of skilled educators, teachers and instructors who are not associated with a university and therefore not likely to be already rolled into the Massively Open Online Courses movement. And who want to go it alone, rather than sign up to courses marketplace such as Udemy or Skillshare where they have to compete with other educators.
The startup, which was founded in July last year backed by €100,000 ($138,000) from the H-Farm Ventures incubator, opened its eponymous platform last month, in beta — and has had around 100 (U.S.) instructors and 1,000 students signed up to the first batch of Kunerango-powered online schools.
It’s now ready to move out of the testing phase and into full commercial implementation to test its theory that there’s appetite among individual educators and instructors for another way to sell their knowledge and skills online — offering them a ready-to-use, customisable toolset to get going.
“Today in the American market there are 1.6 million independent educators with highly-skilled profiles. Students who benefit from online courses are about 50 million, for a total market of $24 billion,” says founder and CEO Mattia Toso, discussing Kunerango’s target market.
“Educators who want to approach the online education market to sell their courses essentially have two options: 1) create their own platform (alone or with the help of a developer) by integrating different tools (Vimeo, WordPress, PayPal, Slideshare, Disqus, etc); 2) publish their courses on a course aggregation platform such as Udemy, where the competition with other educators is tough. We want to give teachers a third option.”
And while education is Kunerango’s main focus, it also sees potential for its product to be customised by companies to meet their training needs — stressing that its tools enable anyone to create their own “customized academy” on the web.
“We want to be the shopify for online instructors, giving them the perfect tool to create their own tailor-made online school in just few easy steps,” Toso adds. “You can customize the graphic style of the platform, create courses with different content types (video, audio, PDF, PPT), give live lectures, interact with the students through an integrated messaging system and automatically collect payments resulting from the purchase of the course.”
In terms of competitors — beyond the MOOCs giants — he name-checks Everpath and Pathwright as “possible competitors” in the U.S. market. Kunerango is hoping to stand out against these rivals by focusing on serving instructors’ specific needs, says Toso, and generally by relying on its in-house technology — which includes the ability to support live lectures within its platform (rather than requiring external services plug-ins to power such features).
“Our target audience are instructors with highly-skilled profiles and who want to be able to turn their expertise into a source of revenues. We think we have a good product that covers the needs of this market,” he adds.
“We did research on instructors enrolled in platforms like Udemy and Skillshare. We noticed that the ‘top players’ that are now established are moving out to their own platforms, where they are selling their courses only. We are targeting such players to offer them a ready-to-use and highly customized solution.”
Kunerango does not charge for use of its tools to build an online school or for the number of courses instructors create, but rather it takes $7 per student sign-up and a 4% fee on top of that — taken as a percentage of the price of the course. Instructors set the course price themselves.
Kunerango is targeting the U.S. market first, which Toso described as “a more mature market for online training”, but he says it also intends to push its SaaS toolset in Europe and out to emerging markets such as India.