Unlike traditional study, online classes at Skillshare are taught by industry experts and focus on learning by doing. The courses, which are not accredited, accept anyone who wants to learn. The majority of courses focus more on interaction than lecturing, with the primary goal of learning by completing a project. The main categories of learning are creative arts, design, entrepreneurship, lifestyle and technology, with subtopics covering a myriad of skills.
Michael Karnjanaprakorn and Malcolm Ong started Skillshare in New York City, New York in November 2010, the site was live in April 2011. Prior to starting Skillshare, Karnjanaprakorn led the product team at Hot Potato, a social media product bought by Facebook, and Ong was product manager at OMGPop. In August 2011, Skillshare raised $3.1 million in Series A funding led by Union Square Ventures and Spark Capital. As of late 2013, Skillshare has raised $4.65 million in funding. In February 2014, Skillshare raised $6 million, with financing co-led by Union Square Ventures and Spark Capital, bringing its funding total to $10 million.
Skillshare held the Penny Conference in April 2012, a one-day discussion on the current educational system and how to reform it. Speakers included Skillshare’s CEO, Michael Karnjanaprakorn, Codecademy’s cofounder Zach Sims, and Pencils of Promise founder Adam Braun.
Skillshare launched its online courses in August 2012. In these self paced courses, students collaborate with one another to complete a project. Skillshare started with 15 online courses and as of November 2013, it has hosted more than 250 online courses. That same month, Skillshare launched its School of Design.
Skillshare and Levi’s collaborated to launch the School of MakeOurMark in October 2013. These classes focus on individual creativity with courses in photography, tattooing, and various forms of illustration.
In March 2014, Skillshare moved to a membership model, with hundreds of online courses in design, business and technology available for $9.95 a month. Later that year, the company announced a new open platform, where anyone can learn and anyone can teach. In conjunction, it released a Free Membership option, with the ability to watch a limited amount of class content each month at no cost.
Skillshare breaks down the categories of their classes into advertising, business, design, fashion and style, film and video, food and drink, music, photography, technology, and writing and publishing. Within each category is a list of available courses being offered under that heading, which are taught by industry leaders. All the online courses are self-paced.
Industry leaders have taught several of Skillshare's courses. Seth Godin has a class on entrepreurship; Jessica Hische leads one of lettering; Young Guru's s class, covers audio mixing and recording; Marc Ecko covers entrepreneurship and brand creation. Gary Vaynerchuk's class teaches social media strategy. Teachers of entrepreneurship Guy Kawasaki and Barbara Corcoran also have classes.