I already had a hunch that this would be coming. In a survey TeachStreet did a couple of months ago amongst their teachers, there was a question if they were interested in participating in group buying offers.
Today TeachStreet officially launches its weekly deals and joins one of the hottest markets, e.g. group buying. But rather than the giants Groupon and Living Social, TeachStreet will only offer education related deals.
There will be one weekly online deal and one weekly local deal starting with the TeachStreet hometown Seattle and then rolling out into other cities. This slow rollout has always been part of Dave Schappell’s philosophy. This way he and his team will be able to test the new product in a manageable area to iron out the last glitches that might come up when testing the product in public.
The first online deal comes from Educator.com and offers a 6 months access pass for $59 instead of $150. The local Seattle deal of the week is presented by Arthur Murray Dance and offers a three lesson training package for $25 instead of $59.
The backbone of the new deals platform is a software that TeachStreet quietly built together with the Washington Post and that is already powering Service Alley, a directory for local home service providers in Maryland, Washington and Virginia.
Now why is TeachStreet launching a service that obviously has huge competitors with big players like Groupon and Living Social? The answer is that those two are simply too big and therefore cannot cater to everyone’s needs, as counterintuitive as this may sound. Everyone who is subscribed to Groupon knows that it actually is quite overwhelming to get one or two deals a day. And most of them won’t be interesting. I am subscribed to the local deals in my area for about a year now and I bought two deals, both for restaurants.
Deals in verticals with a clear focus have a big chance of converting much better. As the subscribers of TeachStreet are already pre-selected by the common interest in learning something, chances are high that a learning / education only deal once a week will be interesting to many of them. Groupon is basically just a giant email list, only sorted by the city you live in. TeachStreet is a giant email list with people interested in learning something, sorted by city. I do not have a student account but I am sure that TeachStreet can also filter this list by what people want to learn.
For platforms like Udemy, Learnable, Sympoz etc which offer asynchronous courses this is going to be peanut butter and jelly time and I am pretty sure that over the coming months this will boost their sales massively. Same is true for schools, online and offline. The risky part will of course be to make sure that those providers will be able to deliver. We saw some issues with Groupon deals lately where the providers were simply overwhelmed by the customers’ response to their offer. Therefore asynchronous and thus scalable providers will profit even more than live teaching offers.
Of course, this new way of attracting customers to TeachStreet should also have a positive effect on all the 94.000 teachers and schools offering more than 491.000 classes on the platform. In order to provide those teachers and tutors on the platform with more students, TeachStreet is currently testing a new, promising feature which enables students to post requests for lessons instead of searching for a teacher. Those requests are then forwarded to matching teachers on the platform which can accept on a first come, first served basis.
All in all, Dave Schappell and the team at TeachStreet prove once again that they have a great feeling for the education / life long learning market. They don’t add features just for the sake of it or with the (desperate) hope to reach new customer groups. The deals and learner requests feature are two extensions to the service that feel natural and are a useful addition that help to make the service more user friendly for both sides of the market.