Spark Capital’s Investment in Socratic.org
Socratic.org is driven to be the best site for students to learn from the right teacher to fit their learning style, for free. To serve both audiences (students and teachers), a Socratic course topic page needs to be the easiest and clearest explanation to answer a student’s questions, while also being a beautiful frame for teachers to feature their hard work in creating video lessons. It’s not an easy line to walk, but I have confidence this is the right team to do it.
When I first met Chris Pedregal and Shreyans Bhansali, I was immediately struck by their crowd-driven instincts. At the time they had a beta site under a different name with one course topic Chemistry live. The site was still young and quickly evolving, and, most importantly, one could see a community emerging that was core to all decision making.
When I asked Chris and Shreyans, which academic subject will they release next? They answered: we have a community of teachers, and we’ll follow where they want to take us next.
When I asked them, how will they decide what course topics to create inside a subject? They answered: the teachers tell us. They’re collaborating together inside a HackPad on the Physics topics outline.
When I asked them, how do you decide which videos are the best for a particular topic? They answered: we use implicit signals from the students video consumption to know which ones are the best.
At every turn, an easy answer might be to just make a top-down decision about what is likely best, but the result would be inorganic and likely sub-optimal in the long run. Instead, the Socratic.org team is remarkably rigorous about every decision being driven by their community, and the result is a site that reminds me of the best of Wikipedia and StackExchange in its community-driven approach.
I’m lucky to be working with Chris, Shreyans, and the rest of the Socratic.org team, and I have joined the board. Today they are announing their seed round, and I’m happy to have great co-investors: betaworks, Andreessen Horowitz Seed, David Tisch (BoxGroup), John Maloney, and Terrapin Bale. I can’t wait to watch what the Socratic team and their community of teachers build going forward.
Find Socratic.org exciting? They’re hiring.