Throughout 2020, so many facets of our lives have changed, from the way we work, to the way we socialize, to the way we educate our children. This last area, of course, is of particular interest to me as CEO of Outschool.
Over the course of six months, we’ve witnessed schools around the world rapidly switch to online learning, and we’ve seen parents everywhere learn about the challenges of navigating their children’s educations from home, often for the first time.
I am grateful that during this time of unprecedented challenge, Outschool has been able to provide families with a way to help their children learn and grow, regardless of anything else happening in the world. I am also proud of how our team and community of over 10,000 teachers has embraced the challenge of serving many more families and organizations than ever before while living our culture and serving our mission to inspire kids to love learning.
Even as schools reopen, millions of people have now become more familiar with the power of our form of small-group, live online learning and the incredible creativity of our teaching community that our marketplace unlocked.
2020 has had a dramatic impact on our community
The COVID-19 crisis was not the beginning of Outschool’s growth, and it is certainly only one point on our journey. Nick, Mikhail and I founded Outschool in 2015 motivated by a desire to have a positive impact in education and to try offering a consumer marketplace of learning experiences outside of regular school. We started by prototyping with a group of innovative parents and teachers in the secular homeschool community. We launched our product in 2017 as a marketplace of live online classes for kids focused on fun and social learning experiences.
Between launching our first version in 2017 and the start of the pandemic, we had 80,000 kids take Outschool classes. Our strategy was working, and we were delighted with the growth of our community and business. Then, coronavirus, quarantine and mass school closures arrived. To say these events have had a dramatic impact on our community is an understatement.
Since March this year, we’ve gone from 80,000 kids having taken classes to over 500,000. Aside from scaling our core product, key elements of our response to COVID have included:
- Launching a non-profit financial assistance program at outschool.org and committing $3M in initial funding to support families in need affected by public school closures.
- Leveraging our unique expertise by offering free training to teachers and school leaders to help them prepare for remote schooling.
- Launching new initiatives to help employers offer Outschool as a benefit and for schools to incorporate our classes into their remote programs.
We have responded to the fast changes and short-term needs of our community while continuing to build for the long term. We foresee a new normal in K-12 education in response to the problems and opportunities presented by the current crisis. A survey conducted by the company last summer found that 40% of Outschool parents are more likely to homeschool now even when all schools are able to open back up. Additionally, traditional brick and mortar schools will need platforms like Outschool to meet the needs of their students while under budgetary constraints.
We see Outschool as becoming a fixture of learning in the future as schools adopt a more hybrid approach to education post-pandemic. Budget constraints will make enrichment even less of a priority for districts; however, it won’t become less important to parents. Our interest-based classes will help schools fill that gap.
We’ve raised $45M to inspire kids to love learning
Today, I’m excited to announce that Outschool has raised $45M in additional funding to continue inspiring kids and innovating in online learning.
This Series B funding was led by Lightspeed Ventures with participation from Reach Capital, Union Square Ventures, SV Angel, FundersClub and Y Combinator and comes on the heels of unprecedented company growth.
We will use the capital to keep improving and expanding our product and community in several different ways:
- Simpler class discovery and scheduling: 50,000 classes is a lot of options. We’re going to keep making it simpler to navigate the options and find the perfect learning path for your kid. We’ve been described as the “Netflix of Education”, and we want to aim for a simple, personalized and empowering user experience.
- Learner community: Social learning is a key part of our product, and we want to create more ways for learners to connect through their interests, in and outside of class.
- Teacher success: Continuing to empower Outschool teachers to be successful, creative knowledge workers, and connect them with a larger, more consistent audience of families.
- International growth: We’ll keep working to make Outschool available in more countries and languages.
- Schools and employers: We’ll expand our support for organizations and partners who align with our mission of inspiring kids to love learning.
How you can engage with Outschool
We seek to empower and grow our community of learners, parents and teachers, and our team at Outschool. We work together to inspire kids to love learning and to inspire each other. Here are some ways you can engage with Outschool:
- Create your free account: Signup and see our library of over 50,000 inspiring live online classes.
- Become an Outschool teacher: Join our community of passionate teachers and earn flexibly by offering the classes you’ve always wanted to teach.
- View our open positions: We’re hiring! Join our team.
- Contact our partnerships team to explore school and employer solutions.
- Sign up for a webinar with Amir. Teachers who are approved to teach on Outschool: check your email for a teachers-only webinar!
Outschool is a marketplace of live online classes for kids ages 3-18. Classes meet in small groups over live video chat, where students are safely connected with teachers and classmates to have fun, social and interest-based learning experiences. These classes are offered through our marketplace and conducted on our remote learning platform, powered by Zoom.
Through social interactions, live online group classes are more engaging and valuable than passive online content. At the same time, they still offer the access and convenience benefits of online learning. Outschool’s team and community of teachers have more expertise in this type of learning than any other US-based organization, having had 500K learners attend more than 2M class hours.
Our mission is to inspire kids to love learning. We believe the best way to do that is by linking learning to kids’ interests, connecting them with others who share those interests, and giving them the autonomy to pick their own path. We make learning fun, social and self-directed. Our vision is to build a global education community that supplements local schooling.