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Varsity Tutors emphasizes its online and mobile platform for experts and students. (Image: Varsity Tutors)

Varsity Tutors, an education technology startup that combines live experts with an online and mobile platform for learners, today announced it has closed a $50 million Series C funding round. At the same time, the St. Louis-based company said its Seattle location, considered its co-headquarters, has grown rapidly to 50 people less than two years after it opened.

Chuck Cohn, Varsity Tutors founder & CEO

The new funding round, led by Learn Capital and with participation from The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and existing investor TCV, brings Varsity Tutors’ total funding to $107 million. The company said the additional funds will let it move into new international markets, and substantially increase the number of subjects in which it connects experts and students.

Currently, Varsity Tutors said it has expert tutors for more than 1,000 subjects and tests. Students reach those experts through in-person, online, and mobile instruction, though the company said the majority of its business is now from online and mobile, plus an “instant tutoring” tool that connects learners almost immediately with live video-based tutoring for about 150 subjects.

In April 2016, Varsity Tutors opened its co-headquarters on Seattle’s Pier 56. The Seattle office is led by President and COO Ian Clarkson, a former Amazon and Sears Home Services product and technology executive, and was established after an earlier $50 million Series B round. When the Seattle location opened, Clarkson said it would expand from ten people to 50 in two years.

Now, less than two years later, the Seattle office is at that 50 employees. The co-headquarters serves as Varsity Tutors’ hub for product, marketing, design, and software development.

Ian Clarkson, president & COO

Chuck Cohn, founder and CEO, told GeekWire he anticipates this new round of funding “will further accelerate our Seattle footprint. We have several jobs open in Seattle to support the refinement of our existing products and the development of new ones, including roles for machine learning engineering expertise, data science, product management, and design.”

Cohn also has a positive outlook for 11-year-old Varsity Tutors’ continued expansion, following its acquisition last year of European tutoring marketplace First Tutors, as well as four educational content websites.

“Students can get paired with the best instructor for their needs anywhere in the U.S. rather than the person who happens to live nearby. The entire experience is recorded so students can continue to get value out of the session in the future,” Cohn said. That, he said, was part of the attraction to the latest investors. “Once it becomes possible to get a better experience online than you can get offline, the whole industry becomes ripe for disruption and we think we’re at that moment,” he said.

Cohn said academic and test prep tutoring for kindergarten through grad school, where the “vast majority” of its demand comes from today, is only part of the vision. He noted that Varsity Tutors has fulfilled requests, “for instruction in poker, yoga, speed reading and building an online dating profile to name a few. We could be a market maker for knowledge transfer of all sorts and enter categories outside of tutoring and test prep and leverage the same competencies, processes and technology we’d already built,” he said.

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