08/07/2012 09:58 am ET Updated Aug 23, 2012

Skillshare Offers Courses Online To Expand 'Marketplace' For Education

Skillshare is based on the idea that anyone with a real-world skill -- whether it's starting a business or making Chinese dumplings -- can be a teacher.

Since launching last April, the startup's courses have been held offline and in person, in coffee shops, co-working spaces and kitchens from New York to San Francisco.

On Tuesday, the company announced it is making classes available online, connecting students and teachers around the world.

Skillshare, which calls itself a "marketplace" for education, has more than 5,000 instructors who teach a variety of subjects. Upcoming courses in New York include "How to Become an Online Celebrity," "Beginning Sewing," and "How to Live Rent Free in New York City." Its most popular classes focus on visual design, cooking and entrepreneurship, according Mike Karnjanaprakorn, one of the company's founders.

The company has raised $3.65 million in venture capital funding, he said.

Skillshare's students review their teachers and "follow" them on the site to receive updates on new classes. One student has taken 89 classes, according to Karnjanaprakorn, who teaches a course on how to start a business for under $5,000.

With the company's new "hybrid" classes, students and teachers can learn and discuss ideas in online classrooms but still form groups that meet locally in person, he said.

"We still believe that in-person, face-to-face collaboration is the essential key to any good learning experience," the company said in a blog post.

Skillshare's courses typically cost between $20 and $25. The startup takes a 15 percent cut and teachers keep the rest, allowing some instructors to make a comfortable living.

Avi Flombaum, 28, has made so much money off teaching computer programming classes on Skillshare that he quit his job last fall at another startup and began teaching full-time. His five-week courses cost between $650 and $900. He teaches between 12 and 20 hours per week.

This year, he made $100,000 teaching on Skillshare, including $25,000 in the month of June alone.

"I never thought I could make that much money just sharing what I love," Flombaum said.