Varsity Tutors, the platform that connects elite tutors with students, has just closed a $50 million Series B funding round led by Technology Crossover Ventures and Adam Levine, frontman for Maroon 5 and judge on The Voice, as well as education executive Stuart Udell.
Varsity Tutors is based out of St. Louis and looks to pair students with the most brilliant tutors available — folks who graduated from Penn, Harvard, Stanford, etc. — where they can receive tutoring in-person or online. These tutors go through rigorous interviews and subject-by-subject tests to evaluate not only their knowledge on a topic but their confidence level to be able to run a session.
The company also provides Varsity Learning Tools, a product that delivers free academic content to students on the platform so they can practice and hone their skills.
Varsity Tutors started when founder Chuck Cohn realized that two of his best friends in college were also incredibly talented tutors. He set up the business and ran it as a side project, on nights and weekends, while working as an investment banker and then a VC for Ascension Health Ventures.
In 2011, Cohn quit his gig as a VC to focus on Varsity Tutors and build out an online learning platform.
Alongside offering a tutor that would come to your home, school, etc., Varsity Tutors also began offering live video chat, complete with doc editing, text, whiteboard functionality and a number of other tools.
Cohn said online is about to surpass offline sessions for the company, with about half of the business coming from high school students and the other half split evenly between K-8 and college/adult.
According to Cohn, the company plans to use this financing to power a broad mobile strategy, where the same live video chat with a tutor can be had on-demand from anywhere with a wireless connection.
“We’re actually trying to get away from the term ‘tutor’ and use ‘instructor’ because in the longer term, we’d like to branch out into a wider avenue of subjects,” said Cohn. He mentioned cooking classes, Photoshop, or Ruby on Rails instruction, and stressed the high demand for instruction in CS-related subjects.