Skillied, in the Art of Booking
It’s not a typo, but a startup that eases online sign-up for workshops

By Bob Woods

Marcella McCarthy (BA ’05) woke up before dawn last Columbus Day, eager to get to the sunrise photography workshop she’d registered for online. An amateur photographer, she expected to join other shutterbugs in the class, but instead she found herself alone with the instructor. While she valued the one-on-one teaching, afterward McCarthy wondered why no one else showed up – and whether there was an entrepreneurial opportunity to be gleaned from the experience.

“The teacher could have easily handled 10 more students and made significantly more money without incurring any extra costs,” McCarthy says. She used that occasion as the inspiration for creating Skillied, an online service that allows the public to find and sign up for instructional classes, workshops and seminars. “I can easily book an airline flight or a hotel room online, but finding an educational opportunity in the community is hard,” she says, recalling other frustrating searches for photo workshops.

During her junior year at the University of Miami, McCarthy had won third place in the Business Plan Competition for TeaBar, a franchise aiming to do with tea leaves what Starbucks has done with coffee beans. Alas, TeaBar didn’t get beyond the concept stage, though the business plan was dusted off as the template that earned her an Honorable Mention award this time around.

McCarthy, an English major, earned a master’s degree in journalism and was a freelance writer in Miami before turning her full-time attention to Skillied. Teaming up with her father, a retired corporate lawyer, she plans to launch the website this summer, initially with small area businesses that offer classes in photography, crafts-making and creative writing.

“We want to promote education in Miami and learning locally. Pretty soon,” she anticipates for Skillied, “people will be learning new things left and right. And how cool would that be?”

Spring 2017
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