Founded by Jihal Parthasarathi and Katie Kapler, CourseHorse connects students with real-world classes that have empty seats. Working primarily with schools in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles, these innovative marketers have experienced rapid, yet sustained, growth since their founding in 2010. Parthasarathi explained that “leveraging Red Ventures’ deep expertise in technology and marketing will enable us to grow our community—and team—faster and more efficiently.”
CourseHorse identified a lucrative business opportunity in an overlooked sector of the higher education industry. Their creative thinking has earned the financial industry’s attention and support. Marketing firm Red Ventures is investing $4 million in to CourseHorse and getting a minority stake in the company. It’s not a surprising investment once you learn that Anton Levy, General Atlantic’s Managing Director, currently sits on the Red Ventures Board of Directors. Levy has a keen eye for promising online ventures.
You may be familiar with airlines finding innovative ways to fill empty seats. The same practice also occurs for live entertainment events. A salesperson with imagination can find a way to package and promote these empty seats and pitch it to travel industry insiders or general consumers. CourseHorse has adapted that strategy for college classes with available seats.
CourseHorse has partnered with 1,500 colleges and other education providers. The company currently offers 70,000 classes to nearly 200,000 students. Classes range from subjects like graphic design to cooking. Current classes are at real, physical locations, but the company is preparing to launch a variety of online classes as well.
It’s not surprising that Red Ventures is investing in CourseHorse’s innovative approach to marketing education. If you review CourseHorse’s actual role, they’re not an educator. They’re a marketing company working in a niche that has been untapped so far.
It sounds like an unlikely partnership for a marketing firm. But Red Ventures is known for doing things a bit differently than other marketing companies. They offer their clients a full range of marketing and sales services using the skills of an in-house team of designers, software experts, and marketing professionals.
Brian Shaw, Red Venture’s director of financial analysis, will get a seat on the CourseHorse Board of Directors. He says that his company was “impressed with CourseHorse’s ability to build a rapidly expanding business with only small investments to-date, and [we] feel confident that we’ll be able to accelerate their growth as they expand into new markets and explore deeper partnerships with education providers.”