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Tampa startup Knack — it's like Uber for college tutors — attracts new investor

The partnership comes with $125,000 through an annual education initiative sponsored by the Village Capital investment fund.
Knack, a Tampa-based tutoring and skills development startup, was built by a team that includes co-founder and chief technology officer David Stoker, head of community Austin Doyle, co-founder and CEO Samyr Qureshi, co-founder and chief product officer Dennis Hansen and co-founder and chief marketing officer Shawn Doyle.
Knack, a Tampa-based tutoring and skills development startup, was built by a team that includes co-founder and chief technology officer David Stoker, head of community Austin Doyle, co-founder and CEO Samyr Qureshi, co-founder and chief product officer Dennis Hansen and co-founder and chief marketing officer Shawn Doyle.
Published Jan. 28, 2019

TAMPA — Educational tutoring startup Knack on Monday announced a $125,000 partnership with the Washington D.C.-based Village Capital investment fund and the Educational Testing Service, the Princeton, N.J. nonprofit that develops and administers the SAT and other college admissions exams.

"Knack's objectives are in line with ETS' mission," which includes "bridging the gap between what employers want and what institutions are teaching," Educational Testing Service vice president and chief strategy officer Scott Weaver said in an announcement of the investment.

"We're seeking to help education providers teach and assess learners for key competencies," as well as to help "employers recruit and develop employees," Weaver said. "With Knack, we hope to be able to inform and boost students' skills development along with positive academic and career outcomes."

Launched in 2016, Knack allows college students on more than 50 campuses to tutor or mentor fellow students in more than 8,000 courses that tutors have already completed. The fast-growing company — 140 percent during 2018 — also partners with companies like PricewaterhouseCoopers and ConnectWise to help place its tutors in jobs.

BACKSTORY: Why a one-stop shop for personalized help on campus chose Tampa over San Francisco

In November, Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik co-led a $1.5 million round of seed fundraising for Knack along with Precursor Ventures, a seed fund run by Charles Hudson, with additional funding from former Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, Bisk Ventures, Arizona State University Enterprise Partners, Elysium Venture Capital, Doug Feirstein and Tom DiBenedetto.

Knack was selected for its latest investment by peer entrepreneurs as part of a Village Capital-sponsored education program that has for the last three years worked to equip adults with the skills, training and credentialing they need to pursue jobs in an increasingly technically demanding and specialized job market.

"Having ETS as a strategic partner and investor gives us a unique opportunity to collaborate on and tailor our assessment process to better represent how students are developing throughout their tutoring — ultimately driving more value to our community of university partners and corporate sponsors," Knack co-founder and CEO Samyr Qureshi said in the announcement.

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Contact Richard Danielson at rdanielson@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3403. Follow @Danielson_Times

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