Think Olio EdTech Startup Profile EDUKWEST

Think Olio – EdTech Startup Profile

Name: Think Olio
Headquarters: New York, USA
Vertical: Higher Education, Lifelong Learning
Tech: Web

Introduce your startup and give a short description of what you are doing.

Think Olio is a learning hub that connects teachers to hosts in their community to hold informal, in-person classes for lifelong learners.

Who are the founders, how did you meet, what are your different roles in the startup.

David & Chris met in a social entrepreneurship course at Baruch College.

How was the idea for your startup born?

It started with a sad realization as we neared graduation:

We may never see some of our favorite professors again, nonetheless get the opportunity to continue learning from them. And we really weren’t ready to stop taking classes, but we also weren’t sure we wanted to commit to (and pay for) grad school.

This is when we came up with the idea for Think Olio. We thought: let’s take our favorite teachers — the very best ones — and let’s put them in intimate, local venues and make it easy for them to teach accessible, affordable classes in the community.

What is the main problem in education that you aim to solve.

A lack of options for lifelong learning. No easy way to host lectures and classes for teachers and professionals. We also hope to make interdisciplinary learning commonplace.

Who are your main competitors? What sets you apart from them?

Our main competitors are either all online or they are tied down to a single location. You could think of TED talks as a competitor, but Olios are much more intimate classes rather than large auditorium-style lectures. Skillshare and Udemy are dependent upon peer to peer learning but they are entirely online. Meet-up facilitates in-person get togethers, but they are not learning focused and not curated in the same way we are.

How many users / downloads does your service have?

261 learners
30 teachers
20 hosts/venues

In which markets / regions are you active. What markets / regions are next.

NYC. We are focusing on sustaining individual neighborhoods to perfect the model, then growing to new areas based on teacher interest. Right now we are in Brooklyn, focusing on Crown Heights, Bed-Stuy and Fort Greene.

Who is your target audience.

The lifelong learner: museum goer, podcast listener, book reader, with a curious mind.

How do you engage with your target audience. How do you convert them into users of your product.

Each class is different but we market each Olio with the help of each of the three parties (teachers, hosts, learners). The teacher brings sign-ups, the host brings sign-ups, and we also bring sign-ups. Everyone is incentivized to spread the word, so word-of-mouth marketing is very strong for us. Learning is inherently social, so it is always more fun to bring a friend to an Olio.

What is your business model. How much does your product / service cost.

The teacher decides the price of the class then keeps 50% of the money made. The host gets 30% and then Think Olio keeps 20%.

If you raised funding, how much did you raise. Who are your investors. If not, are you planning to raise funding.

We have won almost $40,000 at different pitch competitions. We have not taken any outside investments yet. We are undecided about when we will seek funding.

Are there milestones you are especially proud of and would like to share.

We have held over 25 classes in only our first 6 months.

What are the next steps in growing your startup.

We are launching a 1000 teacher campaign where we ask people to nominate their favorite teacher to use Olio. It is our 1000 thank yous campaign, and people get a chance to thank the teachers who have really impacted them and share them with friends and family by nominating them to teach a class in their community.

How can people get in touch with you.

Kirsten Winkler is the founder and editor of EDUKWEST. She also writes about Social Media, Digital Society and Startups at