AUSTIN, TX, Besomebody, a first-of-its-kind mobile platform that enables users to learn through passion-based Experiences, has closed a second $1 million funding round.
The round was led by Fred Tillman, one of the most successful Commercial Construction entrepreneurs in Central Texas, as well as a diverse group of angel investors.
Cincinnati-based E.W. Scripps Company, which invested $1 million last year, also participated in this round. The company plans to leverage the investment to ramp up its marketplace growth in the Austin metro area and begin targeted national expansion.
Besomebody, which organically grew over six years from a hashtag to a blog to a worldwide Motivational Movement, recently completed a successful Beta launch of its iPhone app that enables people to learn anything they are passionate about by booking Experiences with talented people around them. The early launch, focused in Austin, Texas, drove nearly 30,000 downloads in three months, with over 400 Experiences taught by more than 200 'Passionaries.' Passionaries - the teachers on the platform - are independent business owners who set the prices and parameters of their Experiences on the app. Users book directly from their phones, and then both parties meet in person for a hands-on experience. The Experiences range from learning to ride motorcycles or mountain bikes, to learning to paint or play the piano.
'The three least inspiring words in learning are courses, classes and curriculum,' said Kash Shaikh, Founder and CEO of Besomebody, Inc. 'The best way to learn is through inspiring experiences with talented people. We've built a passionate, global community of artists, athletes, entrepreneurs and adventurers who've taught us that the traditional paths of learning aren't right for everyone. So we're creating a new one.'
Shaikh believes a new path is needed to address a stagnant educational system and an erupting student debt crisis. Student debt has hit a record high of over $1.2 trillion, weighing down the dreams and holding back the ambitions of millions of people across the country. That debt is projected to grow to $6 trillion in five years. More than 70 percent of students are graduating college with significant debt and entering one of the most challenging and lowest paying job markets of our generation.
'People are taking classes they don't care about to get majors they never intend to use, without even thinking about the opportunity cost of wasted time, energy and resources,' said Shaikh. 'When you layer on the unshakeable weight of student debt that saddles three out of four graduates, it becomes insurmountable for a lot of people. We're creating a passion-centric, experience-rich path to an evolving American Dream.'
But it's not just those who are learning who benefit from Besomebody's platform. The marketplace model, which Shaikh dubs the Passion Economy, enables people to make money doing what they love as long as they are willing to teach others. The top Passionaries are currently generating over $3,000/month of incremental income, with hopes to increase that amount as the platform grows. Besomebody's revenue comes from taking a 20 percent transaction fee for every booked Experience.
'Teaching has historically been one of the most undervalued professions in our society. Teachers are some of the lowest paid, yet hardest working and most passionate people you'll ever meet. On our platform, the best teachers - and coaches and instructors and guides - make the most money. The Passionaries who are willing to give the most, will get the most. And that's a beautiful model.'
Currently, the majority of the booked experiences have been in the areas of Adventure and Outdoor Sports, which led to the company announcing a marquee partnership last week with REI's Outdoor School - the nation's largest provider of outdoor education. That partnership, kicking off with a pilot in Austin, offers users the ability to book exclusive, one-on-one Experiences with REI instructors to learn activities such as paddleboarding, backpacking and rock climbing.
Fitness, Art and Music experiences are also popular on the platform. The company plans to begin expanding the Experience marketplace to Houston and Los Angeles within the next nine months. The Android app is slated to launch later this year.
About Besomebody, Inc.
#Besomebody is the fastest-growing and farthest reaching Motivational Movement in the world, with online and social content now connecting nearly 5 million people in 180 countries. Earlier this year, the company created the world's first mobile platform that connects people based on shared passions. The platform is a Social Marketplace where users can learn anything they are passionate about by booking Experiences with talented people around them. People who host the learning Experiences, called Passionaries, are paid directly and securely via their mobile phones. Together, we're creating the World's Platform for Passion.
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