From Vegan Cooking to SEO – CourseHorse Has Your Class

Where we all become obsessed with taking classes and making things in New York City.

CourseHorse launched in mid-April 2011 to make it easier for New Yorkers to find classes, starting with roughly 150 schools and 4,000 opportunities to enrich one’s life. Over a year later, and thanks to a huge movement to make, create and learn without the strict guidelines of a college setting, CourseHorse has quadrupled the amount of classes they offer.

Want to make a vegan feast and don’t know how? Get your body back in shape post-baby? Knit up a new sweater or learn how to use social media for your growing business? They’ve got you covered.

Launched last year by NYU graduates Katie Kapler and Nihal Parthasarathi, both 26, the site was designed to simplify the process of finding classes for the 25-35 year old set in New York City -oh, and to have a lot of fun taking them.

We caught up with co-founder Katie Kapler to see what she had to say about the present and future of CourseHorse.

Tell me how CourseHorse came to be.

Nihal and I are old college friends from NYU. After school, I went and worked for a company that had just raised a small seed round to build an online marketplace for small business owners to access capital. Nihal was consulting for a major test prep provider and during a focus group a mother asked him whether there was a resource she could use to compare test prep classes across all the different providers.
Nihal knew that no central educational resource existed, so he called me to talk through the possibility. That conversation tipped off months of research and tons of coffee meetings, in which we found that schools struggled to fill seats in their classes and that aspiring learners in the community were having a difficult time finding classes that met their specific needs. That’s when we decided to quit our jobs and build CourseHorse.

Do you see people wanting to engage and learn more? Why do you think that is?

We’re pretty obsessed with following up with our users to understand why they’re taking certain classes, and though the specific reasons vary, there’s definitely an overarching desire for exploration and independence that’s applicable across each segment. I can’t really speak to what creates this drive, or why it’s stronger now than ever before, but it’s been encouraging and empowering to hear from so many different people who are inspired to engage in lifelong learning, whether for recreation or personal advancement.

What sections have you seen the most interest in?

As we approach gift-giving season, sales will spike for our recreational class categories like cooking, wine and art. We had one class last year that was a high-falls stunt class, designed by an actor training facility but for the general public. It did real well for folks with dare-devils on their gift-giving lists. This year we have a few tricks up our sleeve for the holidays – a few custom CourseHorse classes are in development that’ll knock your socks/hooves off.

Your dream vision for CourseHorse?

We get these incredibly powerful, inspiring e-mails from users who have taken classes to further or transition their career, explore new subjects and hobbies or meet people in the community. To the extent that we can make that type of exploration easier, and more accessible – that’s what keeps us up at night with excitement. We want to be in more households, more classes, more cities… but that’s news to come!

Watch the CourseHorse video below to get some class ideas.

Image: Lola’s Big Adventure

Amy DuFault

Amy DuFault is a conscious lifestyle writer, consultant and fashion instigator. She resides in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.