The Missouri Department of Economic Development (DED) gathered today with leadership of Varsity Tutors, a live learning online platform that connects students and professionals with personalized instruction, and local partners to cut the ribbon on the company’s new 20,000-square-foot facility in Clayton where it expects to create more than 150 new jobs within the next two years.
The company’s expansion is associated with a more than $5 million investment, which includes lease payments, facility build-out and equipment costs.
“Companies like Varsity Tutors are both a product of and an asset for Missouri’s rich entrepreneurial environment,” said Gov. Jay Nixon. “The state is incredibly proud of its partnership with Varsity Tutors and the company’s commitment to the St. Louis area. Expansions like this ensure Missouri remains a prime destination for tech and innovation.”
Varsity Tutors is the brainchild of Clayton-native Chuck Cohn, who founded it as a Washington University student taking an entrepreneurship course in 2007. The company’s live learning platform has connected 50,000 students and professionals with more than 20,000 instructors. To date, users have accessed more than 1 million hours of live instruction.
Since its inception, Varsity Tutors has invested heavily in technology development, and it recently launched a new mobile application that enables access to live, one-on-one tutoring anywhere in the world with connectivity.
The St. Louis Regional Economic Development Partnership (SLEDP) was a key partner on the project.
“We’re incredibly proud that Varsity Tutors represents the largest-ever venture capital funding round for a Missouri-founded internet company,” said Cohn. “As a lifelong St. Louisan, building Varsity Tutors in this region has always been of personal importance. We remain committed to being a positive force and economic driver for St. Louis while building a business of global significance.”
The company continues to grow its presence in St. Louis and is actively hiring for 40 positions across capabilities, primarily in sales. Interested parties can learn more atwww.varsitytutors.com/careers.
“Varsity Tutors had a strong desire to remain in St. Louis and support the startup ecosystem, but we needed a way to create and fund a new headquarters that would allow us to recruit and compete for talent from Silicon Valley to New York City—and state and local partners helped us do just that,” said Chris Swenson, vice president of Varsity Tutors. “Because of these partnerships, we were able to build a more innovative and collaborative space than we initially thought possible, which will help increase our chances of attracting top talent. In this regard, the new headquarters has been a success and is already paying dividends. Both the DED and SLEDP helped make this possible and were superb partners from the beginning.”
In addition to an entrepreneurial climate that helped Missouri rank No. 1 nationally in new business creation last year, the state is also home to tech success stories from mobile payment processor Square to tech services company World Wide Technologies. Just last year these two companies alone announced 540 new jobs in the St. Louis area over the next five years.
“St. Louis is consistently ranked as one of the nation’s top startup cities, and it’s great to add another line to that long list of accomplished businesses,” said Shelia Sweeney, CEO of SLEDP. “Varsity Tutors is an innovative company with national reach and has quickly become a technology leader in education. We congratulate Chuck and his team, and are grateful for their commitment to St. Louis. This new headquarters in Clayton will create many new jobs and lead to significant economic impact for the area.”
In addition to benefitting from the St. Louis tech ecosystem, Varsity Tutors is striving to further boost it with the aim of continuing to grow the local tech and executive talent. Varsity Tutor’s current staff is also comprised of former employees from Google and Amazon.
“This is a great story of a Clayton High School grad who attended Washington University and created a terrific company,” said St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger. “Varsity Tutors is one of the country’s fastest growing tech companies. We are especially happy that Chuck, in recognition of our region’s booming tech sector, has decided to build out his new headquarters in St. Louis County.”
Varsity Tutors has attracted the attention of major tech companies and private investors, recently raising $57 million over the course of two funding rounds. Answers.com executives David Karandish and Chris Sims were involved in the first round in 2014. Last fall, Technology Crossover Ventures, a successful capital provider that has invested early in global game changers such as Facebook, Netflix and Spotify, led Varsity Tutors’ $50 million series B capital raise. Other second-round Varsity Tutors investors include rock musician Adam Levine and Stuart Udell, president of Catapult Learning, among others.
To aid Varsity Tutors with its expansion in Clayton, the Missouri DED, along with assistance from the SLEDP, has offered a strategic economic incentive package that the company can receive if it meets strict job creation criteria.