The Big Know Raises $3M In Funding Round
The Big Know, a Minneapolis-based education startup, said on Monday that it had raised $3 million in Series A funding.
The company, which provides brands a platform to use their institutional knowledge to educate consumers, received the funding from Wayzata-based LFE Capital and included Steve Shank, founder of Capella University, where The Big Know founder Don Smithmier worked as the company grew from a startup to for-profit education powerhouse.
The Big Know builds off the strength of massive open online courses (MOOCs) by connecting enrollees more intimately and handing over the keys to big brands like UnitedHealthcare, AARP and Dan Buettner’s Blue Zones. The brands currently involved largely focus on wellness, teaching enrolled students about how to better take control of their health, finding ways to live their lives with “purpose,” and increasing life longevity.
“The Big Know is a terrific fit with our investment focus – products and services that help people lead healthier lives,” LFE managing partner Leslie Frecon said in a statement. “Don Smithmier and his team bring tremendous expertise and a powerful vision to this innovative new platform.”
LFE bills itself as a lower middle-market investor that provides funding to companies with revenues of $5 million to $50 million.
The money raised through the funding round will largely be used to acquire new talent on the team and invest in technological upgrades on the backend, Smithmier said.
More than 40,000 people have already signed up for a course on The Big Know. Smithmier said users are spending on average about an hour on course content, which he calls a “remarkable level of engagement,” and that two-thirds of users are participating in discussion—a pillar of The Big Know’s model.
TCB profiled The Big Know and Smithmier just as the company was rolling out its courses in October. At the time, Smithmier described the company as the education field coming together with content marketing. “We find ways to disrupt the market for brands, but also do good for consumers,” he said.
The Big Know emerged from GoKart Labs, a creative agency that markets its as a “startup incubator.” The company has had its hands in several major projects, including Rumble (which makes sounds and voiceovers for big-name brand commercials), Sophia (an online education platform later sold to Capella) and Rick Kupchella’s BringMeTheNews (now owned by the Pohlad’s Go Media).