Education Startups to Watch that Enhance Accredited Online Degree Programs

Today we have another guest post from Jenna Smith:

Online education is growing and evolving at an exponential rate and promises to completely transform the education industry in the coming decade. E-learning, which comprises all out-of-the-classroom web-based learning, computer-based learning and virtual education, owes its popularity largely to the growth of the Internet and associated web tools that have made it easier, cheaper, and more satisfying for students to learn from home. These innovations have bred an incredible growth of revenue that is expected to see online education becoming a $30 billion annual market by 2014. Correspondingly, online education-focused startups such as 2tor Inc, Open Sesame and EduFire are paving the way to transform the industry even more interactive and successful.

2tor, Inc.

One of the most successful online education startups is 2tor, Inc., an education company that has raised $65 million and seems primed to dominate for years to come. Devoted to providing higher education in the form of online programs, 2tor Inc. works with top-end universities in order to offer students and faculties with tools, funding, and recruiting. It also develops technological platforms that facilitate online learning.

Founded in 2008 by John Katzman, the founder of the Princeton Review, 2tor plans to integrate Web 2.0 technologies in order to give students an innovative new experience in online education. In 2008, 2tor partnered with the University of California’s Rossier School of Education to create an online degree program which offers a Masters of art in education. Since then, 2tor has also partnered with Georgetown and UNC. This ambitious startup seeks nothing less than a fundamental transformation in online education and is proving that business ventures comprised of new web tools can fundamentally transform the education industry.


Founded in order to attempt to consolidate and organize the chaotic world of online education, a multibillion dollar industry, OpenSesame is another compelling startup that has been making waves in the education industry. Based out of Portland, Oregon, OpenSesame connects consumers of online education software—be they companies looking to train employees, or schools looking to refurbish their syllabus—with a network of tools that can bolster and enhance their learning. Specifically, purchasers of e-Learning tools are supplied with a library of courses which they can run on virtually any Learning Management System. The purpose of this is to simplify the process of discovering and acquiring online education courses and to considerably expand and augment the selection and quality of these courses.

OpenSesame essentially works kind of like a social networking site for content developers and online education consumers. Their proprietary technology safeguards the developer’s content so that it cannot be duplicated and resold, while at the same time offering the consumer a wide variety of options. OpenSesame’s most recent move was to partner with Mindleaders, which offers a broad, media-rich catalog of online courses (2,800 of them).


EduFire is another online education startup whose funding shows the incredible potential for interactive innovative in the field of online degrees. EduFire offers online video classes and live tutoring in the subjects of language, business, and tech. They offer coursework in Japanese, Mandarin, Arabic, marketing, entrepreneurship, design, web programming, online tools, and many other subjects. Launched in 2007 with the slogan “revolutionize education,” the EduFire platform integrates teachers and students into a single subscription-based online community, based on Adobe Acrobat. Imagine Skype mixed with social media, tutoring and cutting edge software and you have an idea of what EduFire offers. Additionally, EduFire offers test preparation for the ACT, SAT, and GRE and innovative diagnostic learning tools.


Startups like 2tor, OpenSesame and EduFire show the incredible value and promise of innovative online education tools. For both educators and students alike, the opportunity to learn and make a living through these web-based education platforms speaks to a changing dynamic in the academic world. Accredited online degrees are more respected and more valuable than ever before.

 About the Author

Jenna Smith is a journalism student at Saint Louis University. Upon graduation, she hopes to travel the world while producing compelling content for the masses. When she isn’t writing, you can find Jenna with her nose in a book, or her headphones in to block out the rest of the world. Enjoy!

2 Responses to “Education Startups to Watch that Enhance Accredited Online Degree Programs”

  1. Amy Peach says:

    Great piece, Jenna. I found it when inquiring about education start-ups in the St. Louis area. In your research, have you found any compelling companies locally? I’m interested in getting our students at Fontbonne access to some of the up and coming opportunities in educational technology.

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