Virtual Business, Actual Visit

The Obies behind Virtu.Academy share their story in a March 30 career talk.

March 28, 2023

Tyler Applegate

Bryan Rubin and Benjamin Steger, founders of Virtu.Academy.
Photo credit: courtesy of Bryan Rubin & Benjamin Steger

When we last heard from Bryan Rubin and Ben Steger, the 2018 Oberlin grads and business partners had seen their 2018 venture—the online music education platform Virtu.Academy—soar in response to global pandemic restrictions on in-person learning. Each month, more than 5,000 virtual lessons were delivered by eminently qualified instructors—think Cleveland Orchestra musicians, and even Grammy winners—to students everywhere.

Since then, the world has gradually eased back into in-person education, but the possibilities that were revealed over the previous three years have shored up Rubin and Steger’s prescient business model.

“Originally, most people were skeptical of the quality of online lessons,” says Steger. “When the pandemic forced people online, they realized how high the quality of instructors we work with is. Parents won’t have to drive their kids to a lesson every week, or you won’t have to lug around your instrument to class. So the most interesting thing is that we haven’t really seen retention drop at all.”

Virtu.Academy initially took flight with support from Oberlin’s entrepreneurship accelerator program—through which Steger, a Biochemistry and Trumpet Performance major, and Rubin, an Environmental Studies and Politics major—gained essential mentorship and $10,000 in startup funds. Now they partner with consultants for guidance in growing the business and keeping up with technological needs. Most recently, Virtu.Academy earned a $1 million renewable grant from the state of Texas to provide teachers for students in numerous school districts who do not have readily available private music instruction.

This week, they’re back on campus to talk about their experience and encourage others to pursue their passions in creative ways. It’s all part of the Alumni Conversations and Careers series, and it happens Thursday, March 30, at noon in StudiOC’s Main Commons (38 E. College St.). A pizza lunch will be served, and RSVP is required.

Steger and Rubin's presentation is made possible by the Conservatory Professional Development Speaker Series, Oberlin College Musical Studies Program, and the Office of Entrepreneurship, with support from Alumni in Service to Oberlin College (ASOC).

Learn more about Virtu.Academy and read our 2021 interview with Steger and Rubin.

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