Investors are buying into a creator-led future, and Nas Academy wants to turn that creator influence into a broad network of "virtual universities."
The Singapore startup is building out a platform for creators to monetize their knowledge, giving them the tools to create their own classes and academies that fans can attend online. The platform is founded and led by Nuseir Yassin, a video blogger and influencer whose Nas Daily social media accounts boast tens of millions of followers across platforms.
Nas Academy has closed an $11 million Series A led by Lightspeed Venture Partners with additional backing from Balaji Srinivasan, Emilie Choi, TechAviv Founder Partners, 500 Startups, fresh.fund and Metapurse, among others.
The platform can help creators build on-demand class portfolios or live courses, while the marketplace allows users to navigate and shop around for courses that appeal to them. Yassin hopes the platform can bring some predictability to consumers who are interested in signing up for online courses, but are wary of scams and half-baked offerings. "This market needs to have some trusted brands and quality assurances," he says.
At the moment, a good chunk of the courses skew towards the business of online influence, with classes on video editing, content marketing and entrepreneurship. It's also a pretty wide range of price points with costs for courses live on the platform now ranging from $29 to $499. Users can also pay for a bundle of courses, and Yassin says the platform has plans for a subscription offering down the road.
Nas Academy will monetize by taking a cut of these revenues, which may vary a bit, especially right now as the platform is invite-only for creators. As the platform opens up further, Yassin wants it to be a way for creators to find new audiences too. Course operators will have access to emails of their audience and be able to reach out to them directly outside the platform if they so desire.
Investors have been increasingly signing on to back startups building products in the creator economy vertical, especially in the past year. Creator platform Patreon recently raised at a $4 billion valuation. Yassin sees a massive opportunity in not only facilitating closer relationships between creators and fans but serving as an on-ramp for aspiring creators coming to their platform to learn.
"We think there are another 100,000 creators who will never get asked to make a MasterClass," Yassin tells TechCrunch. "Internet skills are low in supply and high in demand."