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How one man made millions luring crowds with FREE education

Power Pitch

Whether it’s snapping a cute baby pic, shooting people in sexy lingerie or starting a new business in Silicon Valley, Chase Jarvis wants to give you an edge, and he’s recruited the world’s best experts to help, for FREE. His startup is called creativeLIVE, and Jarvis hopes it will help make people better at just about everything from photography to burning fat and his business is already worth millions.

"The big idea behind creativeLIVE is to completely transform the face of education," Jarvis told CNBC.

At the core of his million dollar idea are FREE live workshops for anyone in the world with an internet connection. How on earth can he make money giving it all away for free?

CNBC gave Jarvis 60 seconds to explain, click the video to watch his Power Pitch and judge for yourself.

10 years ago Chase Jarvis decided to quit doing what everyone else wanted him to do and pursue his passion for photography. But he struggled to find a good place to hone his picture taking skills and enhance his career potential. And that’s what he says inspired him to do something about it.

"I vowed if I was ever in a position to change that I would - and that's what gave birth to creativeLIVE," Jarvis told CNBC.

Very simply, creativeLIVE, co-founded by Jarvis, combines online education with a live broadcast platform. The website streams live workshops on hundreds of topics including creative stuff like photography, and painting, but also business, and even weight loss. Anyone connected to the web can watch live streams of the workshops for free, and ask questions via Facebook, Twitter, and the company’s website.

Unlike some online education companies like Udemy and Coursera that focus on academics, creativeLIVE’s workshops lean heavily towards creative; along with lots of photography courses, there are also workshops about video, design, business, audio, music and software. The company has more direct competition in the creative space with players like Lynda.com and Digital-Tutors.

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“The big differentiator is live because then you can interact with these instructors whether you are in Nairobi or Nebraska. You can ask them questions and change the course of the class in real-time just like real education," said Jarvis.

Jarvis’ vision of online education does NOT include professors, instead workshop instructors are recruited from experts doing work in the field.

“We connect the world's experts, Pulitzer Prize winners, and New York Times best sellers with millions of people worldwide who want to learn from the world's best,” Jarvis told CNBC.

A course called Boudoir Workshop focuses on the business of photographing subjects in lingerie; covering topics like posing, pricing and post-production, and according to the course description, it includes a series of live shoots. On the other side of the spectrum, a recent 2-day business workshop called “Secrets from Silicon Valley,” the description promises, “you’ll learn how to survive, grow, and thrive directly from entrepreneurs who have done just that.” It had over a dozen instructors including LinkedIn’s (LNKD) co-founder Reid Hoffman, and Zillow.com (Z) CEO Spencer Rascoff.

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Jarvis told CNBC, “The future of education is interactive, free, and live now.”

So How Does CreativeLIVE Make Money?

“We’ve been in the business for 2 years and we’ve been profitable since day one,” explained Jarvis.

CreativeLIVE generates revenue by selling recordings of the live classes that are sometimes hours and even days long.

“If you’re maybe one of us who have a little different schedule or busy or in a little better financial situation and you don’t want to stay glued to the screen for 8, 16, 24 hours while these classes are going on, then you can just press buy,” Jarvis told CNBC.

For example students can watch an upcoming live workshop on photographing motherhood called “Bumps to Babies” for free, or they can purchase a workshop by one of the same instructors called “Newborn Posing,” a recording of the 3 day course that was taped in May is $149.

Prices for recordings of the workshops range from $29 to $299. And while the company will not share specific numbers on revenue, creativeLIVE reported it's seeing 400% growth year over year.

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The company has more than 250 courses in its catalog and boasts having served over 1 million students with over 1 million hours of video viewed per month. The most popular courses are on photography with a live workshop on Photoshop attracting over 150,000 students from 170 countries.

Founded in 2010 with headquarters in San Francisco and Seattle, the company has 30 full-time employees and a total of $8 million dollars in funding from key investors such as Greylock Partners, Creative Artists Agency and Google Ventures.

Will Chase Jarvis' online education company change the face of education? Watch his Power Pitch and judge for yourself along with Power Pitch panelists Brian Sullivan @SullyCNBC, Julia Boorstin @JBoorstin, and Madrona Partners Len Jordan @MadronaVentures.

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