Japan’s Street Academy raises $420,000



See the original story in Japanese.

IntheStreet, the startup behind private lesson marketplace Street Academy, announced today that it has raised 40 million yen (approximately $420,000) from CyberAgent Ventures, Genuine Startups [1], and other angel investors.

The service gives users an opportunity to teach something to someone else. By listing the topic that you can teach, you can then easily create a page announcing your lecture. When you teach your lesson, you will receive a fee from the student, and pay 15% as a commission to the startup.

The startup’s CEO Takashi Fujimoto started his carrier as an engineer, and he was involved in major projects at an investment fund company. As AirBnB-like offline services have emerged, he wanted to launch a long-tail C2C business by himself. As he started exploring how he could execute his business, the learning community site Skillshare was launched in the US in 2011.

Mr. Fujimoto explains:

I thought this is it. We are told that the private lesson market is worth 2 trillion yen ($21 billon) in Japan. My wife provides a lesson where she’s teaching how to bake a cake, but she has a problem in terms of acquiring students. Small cooking schools still rely on distributing hand-outs for their promotion. This caused me to launch the startup.

In terms of marketplace sites connecting users with private lessons, Cyta.jp is still ahead of Street Academy. What’s the difference between the two services? Street Academy does not check whether teachers can provide the lessons/skills they claim. In contrast to that, Cyta.jp allows teachers to post the description after an interview, in an effort to verify the quality of lessons presented on the website. Fujimoto adds:

In terms of managing quality, our service relies on market principles, which is similar to what Tabelog (a Japanese restaurant review site) is doing. We understand it’s really hard to catch up with our competitors. However, we expect to overcome this by giving users more useful information such as what they have learned in the past, and what background a teacher has.

With these funds, the startup plans to intensify its marketing efforts with the goal of acquiring more than 10,000 students in a year.

  1. Genuine Startups is an investment fund spun off from Tokyo-based startup incubator Movida Japan.