Launched earlier this summer, Chicago-based startup ClassFill refers to its service as the Priceline for classes. The idea is simple: Users find classes they are interested in, name the price they are willing to pay, and businesses are able to accept or reject the offer based on their availability. ClassFill seemingly becomes a win/win for businesses, which want to monetize expiring inventory and customers who want to snag deep discounts on fun classes.
Founders Matt Conway, CEO, and Jeff Johnson, CTO, were inspired by Airbnb’s ability to monetize unused, stagnant space. That inspiration, matched with Johnson’s background working with struggling class venues and Conway’s marketing experience at Y-combinator company Aisle50, that set the idea in motion.
“We intend to help small businesses while giving people an incentive to get off the couch and do awesome stuff!” said Conway.
Classfill takes a commission on every sale, and charges for search placement and usage fees for a premium license that includes a scheduling and payment app for venues. At its launch, Classfill offered 120 classes. Now it has expanded to over 517 classes in the Chicagoland area and the team hopes to reach 1,000 by the end of the summer.
When I gave it a whirl, I saw a few interesting options relevantly close to my home, but most of the classes I wanted to bid on were listed for dates too far in the future for me to commit to. As Groupon has figured out with its “Now” feature, there is a large amount of the discount-hunting population that must account for their unpredictable schedules and can only commit to an event or class, today. This problem could fix itself as more consumers and businesses hear about the service and add more classes to the ClassFill database.
The Chicago startup corralled $12k in seed money in April, and while it is still looking for $20k or less in seed funding, it plans to prove out the model in the Windy City before pursuing a “proper round.”