Earlier this week, Union Square Ventures announced that it was leading a Series A investment in an online education marketplace targeted at K-12 students. The platform is called Outschool, and you can think of it as a form of homeschooling.
Today, there about 55 million K-12 students in the US, with around 9% enrolled in private schools. Charter schooling is on the rise (somewhere around 3 million students), but so is homeschooling (similarly around 2.5 million students). Data here.
Homeschooling, at least in the US, largely started within religious groups. But that is starting to change and it is becoming more widely adopted. USV has made a bet that this trend will continue.
If you look at Outschool’s model, you’ll see that it shares a lot of similarities with other successful internet marketplaces. It is direct-to-consumer (the internet has a way of getting rid of intermediaries). The courses are significantly cheaper than traditional classroom schooling ($10-15 per course). And the supply-side of the marketplace (the teachers) is far more open and accessible to non-traditional participants.
USV gives the example of a human rights lawyer who is teaching on the platform and now earning more than $10,000 per month in additional income. I’ve never enjoyed online classes, but now that we have reliable video chat, maybe that starts to change.
In any event, where my mind goes with all of this is the impact on our built environment. We are heading toward more flexible spaces and we are doing a lot more from home.