Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A Sharing Economy Where Teachers Win

What started out as a hobby has turned into a business," she said.

Teachers often spend hours preparing classroom lesson plans to reinforce the material students are required to learn, and many share their best materials with colleagues. Founded in 2006, TeachersPayTeachers speeds up this lesson-plan prep work by monetizing exchanges between teachers and enabling them to make faster connections with farther-flung colleagues.

As some on the site develop sizable and devoted audiences, TeachersPayTeachers.com is fostering the growth of a hybrid profession: teacher-entrepreneur. The phenomenon has even spawned its own neologism: teacherpreneur.

To date, Teacher Synergy, the company behind the site, has paid about $175 million to its teacher-authors, says Adam Freed, the company's chief executive. The site takes a 15 percent commission on most sales.

A former chief operating officer of Etsy and former director of international product management at Google, Mr. Freed is a veteran of data-driven growth companies. By selling tens of thousands of items, he says, 12 teachers on the site have become millionaires and nearly 300 teachers have earned more than $100,000. On any given day, the site has about 1.7 million lesson plans, quizzes, work sheets, classroom activities and other items available, typically for less than $5. Last month alone, Mr. Freed added, more than one million teachers in the United States downloaded material, including free and fee-based products, from the site.

"If you have a kid in school in America, they are interacting somewhere with TeachersPayTeachers' content," Mr. Freed said in an interview last week at the company's headquarters in Manhattan.

 Subscribe in a reader