This episode of the Getting Smart Podcast is sponsored by Screencastify.
On this episode of the Getting Smart Podcast, Tom Vander Ark sits down with Amir Nathoo (@AmirNathoo), CEO of Outschool, an education platform that offers live online classes for K-12 learners. Outschool is an innovative education platform that offers a variety of engaging, small-group classes online. Unlike traditional classes, Outschool gives kids the unique opportunity to explore their interests in-depth with interactive classes taught via live video by experienced, independent teachers and organizations. In 2020 alone bookings went from $6M to over $100M.
Amir earned a Masters degree in Electrical and Information Sciences from Cambridge 20 years ago and has been an entrepreneur and business builder since. Amir led the development of Square Payroll and served as CEO and co-founder of Trigger.io.
Let’s listen in as Tom and Amir discuss the opportunity of live online classes, Outschool and his history in tech.
Amir started to engage with computers when he was only 5 years old. These experiences rapidly set him on course to a career in software which included time spent at IBM, Square and more. Both of his parents were educators and as a result, Amir has been thinking about education for a long time. He came to the realization that “so much of my own education came from learning outside of school.” He saw the potential for a marketplace based model for education, taking inspiration from tech giants AirBnB and Lyft.
One of the core differentiators of this model was to apply tech to how edu was actually consumed. It took starting from outside the system. Through the marketplace model young people are “able to learn things like cat anatomy from a vet or math through art.” “Our desire is to always meet the child where they are at.” Their innovative model “also unleashes the creativity of teachers.”
Outschool has a wide variety of content, serving learners from age 3 to 18. For the younger learners, parental involvement is required at the onset and focuses on things like marine mammals, kids yoga — over time this can transition into things like critical thinking in Dungeons & Dragons. “We try to show you things you like based on past behavior but also show you things we think you might be interested in that you aren’t familiar with.”
Outschool is not yet dedicated to credentialing or skill-building in the traditional sense. “Love of learning is our key metric. If we’re doing that, it’s more likely that our materials are actually sticking.” One day, however, they hope to have a robust credential offering through Outschool.
As a part of the $75M Series C, Outschool will be dedicating 2% of stock for an educator fund. This fund is designed to match the renewed interest in out-of-school non-traditional options due to COVID. Another new element of Outschool’s strategy is a new partnership model where they support schools with elective design, webinars and more.
What’s next? Amir is looking forward to continuing to grow Outschool’s footprint internationally, adding more languages and continuing to make the platform more learner-driven.