After four years in the classroom, Edelman hit upon the idea for an online lesson-plan marketplace. “I thought teachers would be more incentivized to post their best stuff and to create even higher quality materials if they had the opportunity to get paid for them,” says Edelman, who now lives in Fontainebleau, France, south of Paris. “I had no clue what I was doing, but I knew it was a really good idea, so I just found my way,” he says, noting he has no tech background. “I read books. I cashed out my retirement fund and sold my car and my motorcycle and got enough money together—around $10,000—to hire a programmer to build the first version of the site.
- Soon after the launch, New York-based publisherScholastic (SCHL) bought the site for what Edelman says was a low six-figure sum. Over the next few years, TPT continued growing, though not fast enough to hold Scholastic’s interest. Edelman bought the site back in 2009. “Scholastic—being a big, publicly traded company—wanted instant gratification, YouTube-like, explosive growth,” he says. “They were going to close [the site] down, but I fought really hard to get them to let me buy it back.”
- Little by little, TPT began gaining steam. “With marketplaces, it’s that chicken-and-egg thing,” says Edelman. “Until you have lots of products, you don’t have lots of buyers.” Today the site has 1.1 million active members and over the past year has seen enormous growth. Last month alone, TPT grossed $2.5 million in sales, up from $305,000 in August 2011. It has 10 employees working in customer service. Teachers pay an annual premium membership fee of $59.95 to sell materials on the site, and TPT takes a 15 percent cut of most sales. (Teachers can sell materials without a premium membership, but TPT’s share then rises to 40 percent of a sale.)
- In the past three months, Jump, who earns $55,000 per year teaching, has collected $213,000 in TPT sales. She says the money has not changed how she lives day-to-day. If anything, Jump says, she’s working harder than ever, putting about 40 hours a week into TPT projects, apart from her regular teaching schedule.
How awesome is that?!
On Wednesday morning, Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan will unveil legislation aimed at imposing a two-year pay freeze across the public sector. Officials concede they can’t be sure the proposed measures would withstand a court challenge. But they hope they’ve built in just enough flexibility to demonstrate respect for collective bargaining, which a 2007 Supreme Court decision deemed to be protected under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.