Khan Academy has quickly become one of the most popular educational sites in the U.S. and around the world. But TareasPlus, a startup with offices in Colombia and San Francisco, believes it may have a leg up with Spanish speakers south – and increasingly north – of the border.
Since launching last year, the company, which calls
itself the “Khan Academy of Latin America,” has produced more than 3,600 instructional videos on math and science topics for Spanish-speaking students, teachers and adults looking for content on finances and other practical matters. On Monday, the startup said it was taking its biggest step toward making money with the launch of a new online marketplace, called Aula, that enables teachers and other users to create online lessons and upload their own videos to TareasPlus.
“We’re trying to push the teacher to create content of his own,” said founder and CEO Hernan Jaramillo. “It allows the teacher to simply create his own set of courses and easily share it with his students.”
While teachers may already have access to learning management systems (LMS) that enable them to share video and other kinds of instructional content with students, Jaramillo said they tend to be cumbersome and clunky to use. For $24 a year, teachers can use the web and mobile-optimized TareasPlus to curate video playlists made from content produced by the startup and other users, as well as include questions and exercises for students and track their progress.
The bigger revenue opportunity for TareasPlus is the capability for teachers to create and host their own courses on the site. Much like instructors on online learning startup Udemy, teachers can offer courses for free or a price of their choosing with TareasPlus taking 30 percent of the earnings.
Targeting Spanish-speakers in the U.S. and around the world
Initially, Jaramillo said, the company thought that its users were individuals aged 13 to 25 who searched online for math and science questions related to their studies. But it realized that about 40 percent of its users are older – aged 35 to 65 – some of those adults include teachers who use the videos in classes or on their blogs, but others are parents looking to review content before helping their kids or adults looking for practical instruction on calculating monthly mortgage or car payments.
To date, Jaramillo said, just 5 percent of the site’s users have been based in the U.S. But over the next six months, he estimates that the figure could double or triple as TareasPlus uses its new marketplace to attract a larger global audience and builds up content relevant for U.S. users. For example, he said, many of its U.S. users are adults searching for help with “daily math” and finance problems, so future courses could include “math for moms” or “math for traders.”
Earlier this year, Khan Academy announced a partnership with the foundation supported by billionaire Carlos Slim to translate its online video content for students in Mexico and Latin America. (The non-profit is focused on translating its content into more than a dozen languages.) But Jaramillo said his company’s new exchange gives teachers an opportunity to potentially access Spanish-language content from a greater range of sources and make their own lessons available to a wide market.
The startup, which says that it has attracted users with search-engine optimized video content, has raised $1.8 million from online education company Academic Partnerships and says it receives 300,000 to 400,000 unique visitors each month.