WHAT: Create lessons on a virtual whiteboard with a voice-over, then share them with the ShowMe community. The community votes lessons up and down, with the best lesson of the day appearing on the homepage. Available for free as an iPad app for lesson creation. Users can access lessons on the ShowMe website.
LAUNCHERS: San Kim, CEO and Karen Bdoyan, CTO. San founded Easel Learning, which helps students prepare for the SAT and learn algebra using iPad apps. Karen is the co-founder and CTO at Easel. He worked for Lycos Europe and founded/sold a startup in Europe before moving to the U.S.
WHY: Many people have knowledge but have no easy way to share their expertise. Online video has become a popular way for people to learn new things. The iPad market is large enough to support such an app. Traditional teachers can use the app to share lessons with their students online and those who missed school. Students can make lessons for each other to show they mastered a subject.
WHEN/WHERE: ShowMe app: June 2011 / New York. Easel Learning: 2009 / New York.
BACKSTORY: San was a teacher and a tutor for eight years and has “always been passionate about education.” ShowMe “is a simplified spin-off of Easel Learning,” San says.
BUSINESS MODEL: Not decided. Easel Learning licensed its whiteboard technology to the Princeton Review, which has been its only direct source of revenue to date.
COMPETITION: User-generated video on other platforms and the Khan Academy, an online database of more than 2,400 videos that covers topics from history to science.
ON KHAN ACADEMY: “It’s awesome in the sense they’re building lots of functionality,” San says. “The main difference is that Khan Academy is one person and we’re an open community of teachers and students all over the world.”
CUSTOMERS/GROWTH: Not disclosing. Thousands of lessons across the popular topics, mainly in chemistry, algebra and grammar. “The focus internally and externally is the quality over quantity," says San.
PHILOSOPHY: To let anyone create lessons and share them easily with everyone. “Everyone is a learner and everyone is a teacher,” San says. “Teaching and learning go hand in hand. The best way to learn something is to teach it. To be able to teach it well shows that you’ve learned something.”
WHO BACKED IT: Easel Learning: DreamIt Ventures accelerator program (2010).
TOTAL RAISED: $25K from DreamIt and a $15K grant from the Columbia Venture Competition (Easel Learning).
NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 7
Users create lessons with the ShowMe iPad app. The sidebar contains standard drawing tools such as a pen and eraser as well as a recorder, importer and sharing functions.
Users control the lesson with the play and stop indicators. Once the lesson is over, users can rate the lesson by giving it a thumbs up or a thumbs down.
ShowMe teachers have personal pages that enable users to see other content they have created.
1. "Is Digital Education a Luxury for At-Risk Youth?" (PBS MediaShift, July 28, 2011)
2. "Social media find place in classroom" (USA Today, July 25, 2011)
3. "EDUKWEST #66 with San Kim of ShowMe" (EDUKWEST, June 27, 2011)
CONTACTS & LINKS
Email: san at showmeapp dot com
ShowMe profile: http://www.showmeapp.com/san/
Email: info at showmeapp dot com
ShowMe profile: http://www.showmeapp.com/bdoyan/