THIS STARTUP WILL BE LOVED: Adam Levine, frontman of Maroon 5, and Technology Crossover Ventures led a $50 million venture deal in tutoring company, Varsity Tutors. Other participants in the Series B round include Stuart Udell, executive chairman at Catapult Learning. On top of a $7 million round in 2014, the St. Louis-based startup has now raised $57 million.
Founded in 2007, Varsity Tutors developed an online platform that connects students with tutors for in-person and online sessions. Flashcards, test prep and other study materials for school subjects and standardized tests are also available. According to its press release, the company has connected “nearly 50,000 students to more than 15,000 thoroughly-vetted instructors nationwide,” tallying over one million hours of tutoring sessions. The funding will fuel product updates to the company’s online tutoring technology and its mobile apps.
The company plans to use the funds to grow its software development team and create a product management team, a division the company has never had before. The biggest change, though, will be Varsity's future focus on mobile devices, according to founder Chuck Cohn. "We're investing all our resources in mobile," Cohn said. "We want students to have a quality experience with online instruction and video on mobile." The majority of Varsity Tutors' traffic comes from mobile devices.
This comes as the latest pivot for a company that has reinvented itself after starting with a "Netflix by mail" model, as Cohn called it, that brought tutors to students' homes.
When asked if the anxiety of being a company's founder will ever go away, Cohn said no: "I have high expectations for the opportunity we have. I'm anxious for us to improve, but we're no longer worried about day-to-day cash flow. The problems change, but our business grows more sophisticated."