Teachable books $4 million to turn everybody into educators online

Education tech startup Teachable (formerly known as Fedora) has raised $4 million in a Series A round of funding according to CEO and founder Ankur Nagpal. The company provides a platform that’s like a Shopify or a SquareSpace for tutors or teachers. Its platform allows subject matter experts to quickly construct online courses and sell or give them away to their followers, setting their own pricing, choosing how people should pay them, and owning all their own customer data.

Educators of any kind can use Teachable without paying for software access, but instead giving the startup a $1 plus 10% commission on each sale they make. They aren’t charged for offering free courses at all. They can also opt to subscribe to use the software-as-a-service through a range of plans from $39 to $299 a month with low or no-commissions.

Courses offered via Teachable aren’t taken for college credits today. Many are concerned with non-academic subjects, like cake decorating, feng shui, or how to fly or 3D print a drone. Others are more along the lines of professional development like courses in specific programming frameworks or how to run a martial arts school. Large companies use Teachable to offer learning and development programs to their employees, as well.

So-called “lifelong learners” may not even be aware they’re using Teachable when they sign up to take a course from someone who inspires them. By contrast, predecessors to and competitors of Teachable’s, such as Udemy, EdX or Coursera offer something more like a course catalog online, that students can peruse before buying. That format means teachers or courses are pitted against each other in a sense, vying for students’ attention and money.

Teachable CEO and founder Ankur Nagpal said that his company helped educators to sell $30 million worth of courses in 2016, up from $5 million in 2015. It also hit 3 million users on the learner side of its platform and claims to be adding approximately 15,000 per day now. Educators have uploaded over 1.3 million videos to the Teachable platform so far, and the company reports an average of 250,000 sessions each day.

The company’s new funding round was led by earlier investors Accomplice Ventures, Naval Ravikant and Learn Capital, and joined by Sincerely founder Matt Brezina, Maiden Lane Ventures, Winklevoss Capital and others. The investment brings the company’s total equity raised to $8.5 million. Teachable still has $7 million in the bank, the CEO said.

The company plans to use the capital to basically do more of what it’s already been doing, hiring, acquiring users at minimum cost, and supporting its customers and end-users. But it does have some new features in the works. Nagpal said, “We’re working on a centralized myTeachable account that people can opt into. Think Facebook Connect for online education, where even if people have their courses on their own branded website, if they’re using Teachable, then their students can check out with a single click.”