We had the privilege of talking with Lizette Chapman for Dow Jones VentureWire about our funding announcement and what we’re building at popexpert. Check out her full article below:
VentureWire, Lizette Chapman, May 21, 2013
Offering mediation, yoga and other “lifelong learning” classes online, new startup Popexpert Inc. wants to make self realization as convenient as launching a browser.
Backed with $2 million from Learn Capital, Jeff Skoll’s Capricorn Investment Group and Paypal Inc. co-founder Ken Howery, the San Francisco-based startup is similar in function to the dozen or so other online learning startups that have launched during the past year, but it has a distinct focus.
Unlike Lynda Inc., Coursera Inc. and Udacity Inc., which have respectively raised $103 million, $22 million and $20 million during the past year, Popexpert will not offer academic or skills courses geared toward career advancement.
“We are looking at the things that make you better at life, work and play. More EQ (emotional intelligence) than IQ,” said founder and Chief Executive Ingrid Sanders, adding that Popexpert courses will be geared toward helping people develop as human beings.
Still operating by private invitation only, Popexpert says it now has 1,000 experts teaching across ten categories including meditation, nutrition, relationships, productivity, career mentoring, language and music. All classes are taught via live video on an individual basis. Hourly classes are priced by each instructor and range from $30 to $250, with Popexpert taking an undisclosed percentage.
Ms. Sanders previously served as managing director, digital strategy for Targus Information Corp., which Neustar Inc. purchased for $650 million in late 2011, and general manager, online advertising for the Active Network. She said she founded Popexpert to meet what she saw as a gap in teaching life skills to the masses.
Following the sale of Targus Information, Ms. Sanders decided to take a one-year sabbatical while she eschewed all things tech in favor of pursuing health and balance.
She spent time with experts studying yoga, nutrition, meditation, relationships and the ukulele, earning a teaching certification in Jivamukti Yoga as a health coach from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. After six months she decided to build Popexpert, largely out of her frustration in engaging these experts with old-fashioned tools when she knew better ones were within reach.
“When I look at the most successful people I know, they have the money to invest (in life skills) and they have the values to do so, but it’s unattainable because it’s too much of an effort to find the right experts, schedule them and try them out,” she said.
Although practicing meditation and yoga is usually associated with breathing deeply in a quiet and device-free room, Ms. Sanders says that learning such skills via video is possible. The six-person company is now working on perfecting the user experience to make it as simple and clutter-free as possible.
“Within 5-10 minutes you forget that the technology is there,” she said. “It’s incredible how much the technology fades into the background when it’s just two people and a screen.”
Other investors in Popexpert include Expansion Venture Capital, Mike Walsh of Structure Capital and David Tisch of TechStars NYC.
Document DJFVW00020130521e95lqe7z6 Copyright 2013 Dow Jones & Company, All rights reserved. Copying & redistribution prohibited without permission of the publisher.