The creative community has been a ripe target for startups building tools and services to serve their interests and needs, while moving from their traditional offline practices to a digital present and future. In one of its latest developments, Domestica — a popular site that creates and sells online video tutorials and courses on a range of visual arts and related skills, has built a larger community around content where members can also interact and learn from each other — has $ Raised 110 million in funding on a $1.3 billion valuation.
This Series D is led by longtime investor Zeev Ventures, with additional contributions from GSV and other undisclosed private investors, and has raised approximately $200 million to date. Its current valuation of $1.3 billion is a huge increase in its latest round, in October 2021, when Domestica closed a modest $20 million Series C at a valuation of $350 million, according to PitchBook data.
A lot goes into the logic behind those numbers. First of all, there is the size of the company today. Domestika currently offers more than 2,000 courses created by 1,300 creative professionals, with an average of 110 new courses added each month, covering topics as diverse as crochet techniques, animal painting, and editing for Instagram. It has more than 8 million members and together they have completed more than 13 million courses.
“And those numbers are growing,” co-founder and CEO Julio G. Cotorruelo said in an interview, referring to the courses, as well as the company’s user community. “It’s starting to be a big number. Nobody does as many creative courses on this scale as we do.” The courses are produced by Domestika, but in collaboration with the teachers, “great professionals, but maybe not so good at producing an online course,” Cotorruelo said. “So we do it together. At the end of the day, the teachers are also members of our community. The wheel never stops.”
There are courses in English, French, German and Italian, and all courses are subtitled in English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Italian, French, Polish and Dutch.
East West home is best
Originally started in Madrid as a humble (=small) online community for creatives, then transplanted to the Bay Area (Berkeley, to be exact) when it decided to expand into online learning, Domestika has been somewhat under the radar. That’s largely, it seems, because it’s never bothered to talk much to the media or talk much to anyone other than those in the target community — my interview with Cotorruelo, the company told me, was one of the first and only interviews he has ever done.
(The name, by the way, was coined by its co-founder, COO Tomy Pelluz, as a reference not to the household arts, but to feeling comfortable in the community. You’re with your people, Cotorruelo said, “A home sweet House.”)
Domestika has been around for years – it was founded in 2002 – but the focus and attention it is getting now takes advantage of a number of areas that have recently proved particularly popular with users and, in turn, investors.
An important factor is how the community is organized around a shared interest, in this case artistic and creative output. At a time when many are turning away from large, generalized social experiences in favor of smaller groups or groups based on specific interests, and generally more controlled environments where you are less likely to be harassed and perhaps less of a target for malicious hackers who looking for the greatest impact, the focus of Domestica stands out. (In that regard, even Facebook has advanced the idea of communities and groups, although I’d say from my own experience that the more open DNA and sheer size makes it a day-to-day task to keep those communities focused for administrators of those communities.)
Another is the startup’s focus on e-learning. Education has been one of the most important categories in the tech industry in recent years. Traditional education providers (schools, colleges, universities, as well as nurseries, professional training centers, and really anywhere you’ve been for a class) are all turning to remote collaboration services to keep teaching when the pandemic made face-to-face lessons impossible. But consumers too—with much of their regular outdoor activities limited—all started doing more indoors, and self-improvement became a pretty big theme, leading to record levels of traffic in areas like language learning, skills training, and more.
Both played an important role in Domestica’s growth and its appeal to investors.
It’s not the only company focused on building services for the global community of creative professionals and enthusiasts. CreativeLive is another that has focused specifically on educational content for this market segment. Others, like Superside, are building tools to help users find jobs and then manage those jobs and workflows through the platform. Many bigger players like Adobe have also created a strong platform by building tools and community services for creatives, and you can imagine how it could eventually build more content, both based on its own tools but also more general skills, to to keep. users involved.
Domestica’s business model speaks of an interesting approach that has also contributed to its popularity.
Joining the Domesika community is free and users pay for courses, and those fees represent virtually all of Domestica’s revenue. (Note: Some courses are also free, previews to get people interested in buying courses.) These courses are always sold à la carte, not with a monthly subscription.
“We don’t believe in an all you can eat model,” says Cotorruelo. :The kind of commitment you make when you decide to take a course is different from entertainment.” The price averages between $10 and $15 per course, and for that you have access to that video and the community associated with the course forever, which can review your work and give you feedback whenever you want. The system is so sticky that two-thirds of Domestica’s 8 million users are active participants.
You can get certifications for certain courses, but that kind of professional development isn’t really the point, he said. “It’s about joy and creativity,” said Cotorruelo, emphasizing that people mainly pay for and take courses on Domestica “because they like it. Sure, you can get a better job or make more money learning a new skill, but it’s mainly about having fun.’
And in terms of jobs, recruiting and professional networking to pick up work is not something that Domestica has formally set up as part of its platform, although it sometimes happens by chance. There are also no plans to do this, unlike, say, LinkedIn, which not only offers educational videos, but has recently built just that kind of freelancer marketplace.
“At a time when it has never been more important for people to follow their passions and tap into their creativity, Domestika now has the scale to reach millions more around the world through its unique approach to teaching creativity,” says Oren Zeev, founder. at Zeev Ventures, in a statement. “Julio and his team have done an outstanding job of realizing their vision of building meaningful social learning experiences and bringing together curious minds from around the world. I am excited to support the team as they continue to innovate and grow.”
“GSV Ventures is so proud to join the team at Domestika, which proves every day that learning should be social, fun and beautiful,” added Deborah Quazzo, managing partner at GSV Ventures. “Domestika is changing the way we approach learning and creativity, empowering 8 million students and more than 1,300 teachers around the world to pursue their creative passions. We are excited about their opportunities to continue growing and scaling globally.”