Curious Bee

Ever wanted to try your hand at wine pairing? Maybe photography? Or maybe you just want to learn to cook something other than peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and cereal (it’s fine, we’ve all been there).

A new Philadelphia startup wants to help you find out where those classes are being offered — you know, the kind of classes that don’t feel like traditional education. Last year, a bit after Sarah Huebscher and Anna Vresilovic had graduated from college, they saw a need to help people find these types of opportunities. Curious Bee was born.

“We started hashing out details and found that if we created a way to find classes easier, we could also find a way to make teaching easier,” co-founder Huebscher, 27, said. “So if you have a speciality in something, whether it be cooking or coding or knitting, you could then become a teacher and share your knowledge with others.”

The website that launched earlier this year is currently in beta stage with 10 class providers in the Greater Philadelphia region, and that’s been launched through mostly personal investment by the founders and a $10,000 investment from Penn’s Education Design Studio. In the next several months, Huebscher says Curious Bee hopes to get out of beta and will then search for outside funding.

Here’s how the site works: If you’re searching for a class, you can select subjects in certain categories and locate ones close to you at times that fit into your schedule. You sign up through the site, and Curious Bee makes 5 percent on a commission basis — the more people who sign up for classes Curious Bee hosts, the more money they stand to make on each reservation. But the searching and signing up of classes costs no additional money for students.

If you’re a teacher or a class provider (say you run a culinary school or a yoga studio), you’re able to create a posting on the website that is viewed by an employee of Curious Bee and placed on the website so it then becomes searchable by course-seeking users. Class providers and teachers also enter either bank account information or a Venmo user name (an app that connects to bank accounts) in order to be paid per class sign-up.

The founders of Curious Bee have worked over the past several months to acquire class providers, and are now turning their focus to getting people to actually use the site to find classes. It’s all part of them figuring out their customer acquisition costs, the part they say is one of the main goals of being in beta. Once they nail that down, hopefully by October, Curious Bee will launch fully.

So what’s the end goal for this startup?

“Take over the world,” Huebscher said. “No but seriously, our goal is to be the provider of in-person learning opportunities across the globe. That’s our ultimate goal, and we’re a long ways from there. We want to establish ourselves city by city and look for cities similar to Philadelphia —  they’re education and learning cities that are underserved by the market.”

Anna Orso was a reporter/curator at Billy Penn from 2014 to 2017.