EXCLUSIVE: Andrew Sugerman, a former high-level executive at Disney, has been named president of online education specialist Sketchy, and the company has also received a $30 million investment from The Chernin Group.
Founded in 2013 by four medical students, Sketchy uses the well-regarded “memory palace” technique to help students retain the overwhelming amount of information necessary for board exams and beyond. The company’s videos depict memorable scenes illustrated layer by layer, in real-time, as the narrator guides students through a story to help with the memorization process.
Sugerman will lead all company operations, looking to further expand its education platform and oversee the development of new content. During his decade-plus run at Disney, Sugerman’s positions included EVP of Global Digital Media & Publishing. In that role, he oversaw the expansion of the company’s content business across mobile apps, short-form content, books, magazines and comics for Disney, Marvel, and Lucasfilm. He also developed and led the expansion of Disney English, a multi-location business in China helping children learn English.
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In an interview with Deadline, Sugerman said Sketchy “has been a product – it’s now about evolving the product into a service.” The goal will be to make it something that students turn to “not just for preparing for a test but something using it over a longer time period and for a variety of reasons.”
Covid-19 has driven teachers and students of all ages out of classrooms and forced them to adapt. As difficult as that process has been Sugerman sees a longer-lasting opportunity for Sketchy. “The focus on remote learning won’t change coming out of the pandemic,” he said. “It is just accelerating awareness of new technologies.”
Community and social elements are among the enhancements being planned, and he said exploring younger age brackets — undergraduates or primary school grades — is also under consideration. The investment by TCG and Reach Capital earlier this year aims to help Sketchy with that expansion.
“Andrew has a proven track-record of creating and amplifying brands across multiple products and formats as well as building distribution platforms to reach global audiences through high quality content, products, and creative,” said Mike Kerns, Co-Founder and Partner, TCG. ”We believe that Sketchy has a tremendous opportunity to capitalize on the rising global trend of digital education, and Andrew will be a great addition to help the team achieve this goal.”
Saud Siddiqui, Co-Founder and CEO of Sketchy, said Sugerman’s background makes him “the right person at the right time” to join the company. His experience, Siddiqui added, “aligns with Sketchy’s long-term vision of using visual learning to make education an entertaining and enjoyable experience for all students.”
Sugerman left Disney at the end of 2018 and has been working on a range of projects in media and technology as a consultant. Apart from his tenure at Disney, he co-founded Invisible Narratives, an entertainment company that creates and distributes intellectual property by combining the most engaged digital fandoms with top Hollywood storytellers. He also was president of EF Education First’s subscription-based digital learning business, Englishtown (now English Live), that has worked with more than 11 million students from 150 countries.
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