Nuseir Yassin, the popular Palestinian-Israeli creator of viral video sensation Nas Daily, has launched an online learning startup that aims to “disrupt education.”
Nas Academy is now raising investment from Pitango, OurCrowd and BECO Capital in Dubai, a year after it was established with $12 million in seed funding from Lightning Venture Partners and TechAviv Founder partners.
“We are a collection of creators from around the world who love bringing people together,” Yassin told OurCrowd investors during an online briefing this week. “Learning on the internet is a lonely and a boring process. That’s why we went on a mission to make learning communities better. And we believe that creators will disrupt education.”
“We are ready to scale, and that’s why we’ve decided to go to market and raise a round,” he said.
Nas Daily became a viral sensation with 1,000 daily one-minute Facebook videos mapping Yassin’s travels around the world.
His goal was to unite nas – Arabic for people – through social media, and his success was spectacular. The lively, infectiously goodhearted videos won the Harvard-educated software engineer, who quit a lucrative job at Venmo, tens of billions of views and 50 million followers.
Yassin still wants to unite people online, but with a different goal. Nas Academy, a content creation and learning startup created by Yassin with business partners formerly at Uber and Grab, provides successful content creators with an online platform where students can learn together, and instructors can monetize their knowledge. It is based in Singapore and Dubai, where Yassin now spends most of his time.
In its first year of operations, Nas Academy recruited 100 of the world’s top influencers and creators and a paying audience of 200,000 students. The academy offers courses in content creation, crypto and Web3, and business and entrepreneurship.
More than 50 global companies including Google, TikTok, Pfizer, Singapore Airlines and Bayer, plus governments and police forces, have used the academy’s courses to train their employees.
The old model of downloading educational courses on the internet fell short because people don’t like to learn in isolation and don’t complete courses, Yassin says. Nas Academy developed a “cohort-based learning model” which brings students together to create “learning communities” who inspire and encourage each other, he says.
The results, Yassin says, speak for themselves, with hundreds of learning cohorts running simultaneously, a rapidly rising number of students, and a course completion rate eight times higher than traditional video-based online courses known as MOOCs.
Instructors include Netflix CMO Bozoma Saint John, OYO Founder Ritesh Argawal, and dozens of the world’s most prominent online content creators. The company’s platform allows them “to launch, operate, monetize and manage an educational community,” Yassin says.
“If you want to bring hundreds of people together on the internet, it’s actually quite difficult,” he says. “Where do you host classes, where do you host the courses, where do you host the live events? So right now, messaging apps are not really built for education. So what we do is we provide that education layer on top of these messaging apps that have all the education tools that you need.”
The company currently earns 60 percent of its revenue from individual course consumers, and 40 percent from corporations that want employees to master 21st-century skills. The company takes a cut of the revenue from each course.
“We see an insane amount of potential, especially in education and communities there,” he says.
The platform is hosted in English, but classes are localized so people can learn in different languages. The US is the largest market, and the company has a large presence in India and Southeast Asia, followed by Europe and the Middle East.
“There is a revolution happening,” Yassin says. “That’s what I want investors to truly believe: that in the future, everybody can become an independent content creator and be able to monetize it.”
There is some competition from other online companies that host both learning and communities, but the online education explosion that started two years ago with Covid has barely begun. “We think there’s enough room for everybody,” he says.
Yassin says Nas Academy plans eventually to go public, but emphasizes that this is more than a one-minute project.
“Dear investors, if you want to come on this ride, you have to come for the long run, because we’re taking this to the moon,” he laughs. “The goal of this is not to build a three-year company.”
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