FORBES investments summarizes the ‘hot’ market-darlings of the ED TECH landscape, but more importantly, highlights the mega interest in the ED TECH space. First, note, the quote, “Edtech is the Next Fintech.” This statement is significant, as follows:
- Finnish technology was at the forefront of telecoms network innovation in the 1990s. Finnish technology moved rudimentary analog networks to digital. (This was game changing). Did anyone have an original Motorola flip phone, voice only, device that required manual extension of the antennae, and had very limited range/coverage? (READ: circa 1998/99) Finnish technology changed this.
- Implications of Finnish innovations were significant but suffice to say, that because of Finnish technology, we moved from 1G to 2G to 3G to 3.5G to 4G digital data networks — meaning, moving from no data streaming on cell phones to data streaming on cell phones. This changed the world of mobile data consumption and computing. Apple benefited, so did other handset manufacturers, including Motorola, Samsung. Apple was was able to introduce the iPhone in 2007/2008 (generation 1.0) because of 2.5G/3G (developed by Nokia), and mobile carriers throughout North America, adopted Finnish technology quicker than you can say, “Bob’s your uncle!” Read: revenues, revenues, revenues!
- As an aside, Finnish company Nokia, developed and delivered the first-ever data enabled mobile handset, operated on a GSM network. You could text on Nokian handsets in 1997, 98 (much like Twitter now with limitations on text size — 140). Where do you think Twitter got the idea from?
- Need I say more about the importance of FinTech!
- Not only is Finland a leader in FinTech, but also, they happen to be a leader in education practices. All OECD countries keep eyes-tight on what’s happening in Finland. They’ve mastered a model for student success. But, not through more work, in fact, less work. But, higher student engagement.
- Of worthy consideration, Nokia’s original business in the early 1900s, was winter tires. Called Nokian hakkapeliitta snow and ice tires. Today, rated #1. Seems anything FinTech is gold!
- For the reasons listed above, I watch what is happening in Finland, and what the market indicators are saying….. The looming question is, where will Canada rank on the Ed Tech scale of innovation?
MAY 17, 2017, Forbes contributor, , covers the intersection of education and entrepreneurship.
Last year, David Bainbridge, CEO of UK-based Knowledgemotion, published an article on TechCrunch titled “Edtech is the Next Fintech.” According to Bainbridge, a new education world has begun with investments in edtech set to reach $252 billion globally by 2020.
Digital technologies are starting to transform education. The range of new learning begins in early childhood and continues with baby-boomers looking to continue their studies or learn something new. Also, increasingly more students are using technology in various ways to learn: through tablets, computers and on their mobile phones. Teachers are also using more edtech products and screens to strategize and modify their lesson plans. Online texts are replacing physical textbooks, and personalized learning provides students with the ability to learn and explore at their own pace and on their own time.
Here are ten edtech companies you should know about that are contributing to the global edtech ecosystem.
Data Society is an online data science-training platform for professionals. They launched in 2014 with a mission to close the 1.5 million data jobs gap that continues to grow due to lack of data-literate applicants. They are the first data science-training program that is specifically designed for professionals to get up to speed quickly. Their online program takes someone without a background in math or programming and teaches them how to automate tedious data cleaning processes, build interactive visualizations, and analyze data to make better decisions.
They also offer an online-curated curriculum that is a subscription model for access to courses. They have customized training programs for corporate clients that can be delivered in-person or through live streaming.
The co-founders personally invested over $150k of their money into building the curriculum and the platform. No outside investment has been raised to date.
Since they launched the platform in 2015, revenue has been over $475k. The revenue is a combination of online retail sales, corporate training, and consulting services. They have ten employees and over 1,200 students on the platform spanning over twenty countries including India, Kuwait, Uruguay, Indonesia, Australia, and Germany.
Why they’re different: Merav Yuravlivker, CEO, says, “Data Society is demystifying data science by using best of breed educational practices along with practical use cases and step-by-step instructions. Most post-secondary online courses are built by one professor, without quality assurance, and can lack the practical applications most professionals need to apply in their field. Data Society has developed a 25-step content creation process that relies on a team of industry experts and educators to build a robust and practical curriculum. We created an online learning platform that accommodates several learning styles so that it fits students’ needs and not the other way around. Plus, we provide all the materials that our students would need to implement the methods they’ve learned, including access to a code bank with over 20,000 lines of reusable code.”
MindSumo helps college students develop problem-solving, communications, and creative thinking skills by allowing them to solve real-world corporate challenges. Their online platform makes it possible for all students to apply classroom knowledge toward problems they’ll be addressing in future careers. Delta Airlines, Caterpillar, and Ericsson are a few examples of companies that post projects. MindSumo also rewards students for their accomplishments. They raised $1.6 million and claimed $2 million in sales for 2016, (90% over year growth). They currently have ten employees and over 250,000 students across 3,000 universities around the world use their service. Also, more than 300 companies (90 are Fortune 500) have posted challenges for students to solve.
Why they’re different: Trent Hazy, CEO, explains, “Mindsumo is bridging the skills gap in higher education by giving students the most practical, hands-on learning experience from real company projects. It’s a new way to keep college students engaged with their classroom learning while increasing their employability and success after graduation through stronger skills.”
BenchPrep is an enterprise software (SaaS) digital learning platform. They work with professional certification organizations and assessment companies designed to deliver personalized digital exam prep programs via the web and across multiple mobile devices.
BenchPrep works with millions of people globally. Their mission is to help people learn better and more efficiently by leveraging the power of technology, data science, usability engineering and innovative instructional design models. Education organizations, such as ACT, Hobsons, and McGraw-Hill Education use BenchPrep to help learners achieve academic and professional success. They’ve raised $8.2 million from New Enterprise Associates (NEA), Revolution Ventures and Lightbank. BenchPrep is profitable, cash flow positive and has made upwards of $10 million in revenue since its last round of funding. The company currently has 25 employees and expects to hire up to 40 by the end of the year. BenchPrep served 1.3 million learners in 2016 who collectively completed 45 million learning activities. More than 80% of learners live in the United States.
Why they’re different: Ashish Rangnekar, CEO and C0-Founder, says, “Credentialing, licensing and assessments touch all aspects of American education and the professional eco-system. When it comes to helping learners prepare for these high-stakes exams, options are limited, dysfunctional, expensive and archaic. We are redefining the exam prep market by working directly with the credentialing bodies and assessment companies and providing a personalized, engaging and affordable digital exam prep solution to learners. We leverage the power of learning science, technology, data science, usability engineering and innovative instructional design models to help learners learn better and faster.”
AdmitSee is an online platform featuring the largest searchable database of college and graduate school application files. These records include a student’s academic history, personal background, full essays, extracurricular activities, and test scores. They also provide admissions advice and guidance. Students upload materials that are similar to LinkedIn profiles. Prospective college students get to read real application examples and connect with the college students behind them.
AdmitSee’s database of 70,000+ profiles provides millions of data points that allow the team to apply data science to the admissions process. Analysis of both quantitative and qualitative admissions elements allows the company to surface big picture admission trends as well as personalized recommendations for individual users. They offer a revenue-share model to college students as an easy way to make money by passing down their personal application journeys and insights to younger students. For every view their profiles receive, they earn a commission. The company is bringing much-needed transparency to the black box of college admissions and paying students to pay it forward.
They’ve raised $2 million in seed funding, and have claimed $450k in revenue to date with 100% year-over-year growth. The company has four full-time employees and three part-time contractors. They have 250,000 registered users from 100+ countries.
Why they’re different: Stephanie Shyu, CEO, explains, “There is vast information asymmetry with college admissions. 30% of higher education students are the first in their families to attend college. Imagine if we could match all college applicants with actual college students who shared similar backgrounds and interests. AdmitSee’s mission is to level that playing field by providing access to data and peer-driven insights. We believe equal opportunity starts with equal access, and we’re closing the gap with information transparency.”
Top Hat’s interactive, cloud-based teaching platform enables instructors to engage students inside and outside the classroom with content, tools, and activities. Top Hat is an all-in-one teaching platform for educators. The platform helps teachers engage their class, find course content, author course content and creative interactive assignments. Top Hat has raised more than $40 million in funding, and in 2016, revenue hit in the tens of millions. They have over 200 employees, and 750 leading North American colleges and universities use their platform.
Why they’re different: Mike Silagadze, CEO, states, “We looked for a gap in the market, in particular around classroom interaction and engagement and that was our entry point. We created the first cloud-based, BYOD engagement tool in higher education. We used that product as the foundation to build up our customer base of instructors, and then created the platform for interactive content and collaboration. Educators can develop content in collaboration with each other in the Top Hat Marketplace and then deliver it to their students or instructors.”
SchoolApply is a platform that connects students anywhere in the world with educational programs and schools abroad that best match their needs. Their ultimate goal is to take the bias out of the research and application process. They provide information about schools beginning with an educational focus and highlighting student life to provide a complete picture. After that, they then match that information with each student’s individual needs. They focus on areas such as test scores, cost, and other data to provide a much more comprehensive approach to matching students with excellent schools.
SchoolApply has received $2.2 million in seed funding and closed out their first year of business with $1 million in revenue. They have 39 employees and placed 200 international students in 2016.
Why they’re different: Daniel Bjarne, CEO, says, “The number of students choosing to study abroad has been growing exponentially over the last five years, but the process that many students undergo to find and apply to universities abroad has stayed stagnant for decades. Our platform is helping thousands of students realize their dream of studying abroad and makes it simple and more transparent.”
StudySoup is an online peer-to-peer learning marketplace for college students. Students can upload notes and study guides to the StudySoup Marketplace, and their college peers can purchase the study materials, helping the college student bring in extra income.
Jeff and Sieva, co-founders, started StudySoup when they were college students. They felt the financial burdens on the students around them and wanted to make a change. The most apparent solution they realized was how to help students make money while helping their peers succeed in the classroom.
They’ve completed the 500 Startups accelerator and have raised $1.7 million in seed funding, and revenue exceeded $1 million last year. They have 13 employees working remotely all across the U.S. as well as abroad. More than half a million-college students across dozens of U.S. colleges and universities participate on their platform. Some students have profited over $1,000 per class in sales.
Why they’re different: Sieva Kozinsky, CEO, explains, “StudySoup is the largest and fastest growing online learning marketplace for college students. We work to support college students financially by helping them earn extra cash in a time when they are under enormous financial pressure and academically by giving them access to extra learning resources.”
Elementary, Middle School, and Secondary Education
CodeMonkey is a game-based-learning platform that teaches students eight years and older to code in a real programming language. CodeMonkey’s platform reflects a new approach in edtech that combines learning with playing. Users help a monkey collect bananas by writing different lines of code. While the kids are playing, an AI engine quietly analyzes the players’ actions to deliver hints, feedback and further instructions. CodeMonkey is designed as a classroom resource and does not require prior knowledge and experience.
Since they established in 2014, CodeMonkey has raised $2 million. In 2017 YTD alone, they have generated more than $500,000 in revenue. They have ten employees in New York and Israel. Also, they have over 3.5 million users in dozens of countries around the world. The product is available in 15 languages.
In Israel, CodeMonkey has been operating for the second consecutive year in the framework of the “National Coding Olympics” by the Israel Ministry of Education. In 2015, more than 250,000 students from 1,700 schools have participated nationwide. Since 2016, CodeMonkey is collaborating with Learning.com and has established “Code-a-Thon,” a national coding competition, in which more than 250,000 students played CodeMonkey.
Why they’re different: Jonathan Schor, CEO, explains, “CodeMonkey teaches real-world coding and provides immediate feedback, which leads to skill progression. We also provide comprehensive online professional development for instructors, detailed lesson plans, automatic assessments, feedback, and grading. CodeMonkey enhances problem-solving, logic and creativity expertise, allowing students to learn in-demand skills through a highly intuitive and engaging game experience. Programming today is no longer in the domain of a small percentage of the population; it is widely recognized as a basic trade, just like math or English. Founded by three childhood friends who have been playing and inventing together since age nine, CodeMonkey is designed to address the increasing demand for coding skills in society by teaching real computer programming languages through play.”
Flocabulary is a Brooklyn-based edtech platform that uses educational hip-hop music videos to engage students in grades K-12 and increase achievement across the curriculum. They have a studio in their Brooklyn office where they record both local artists and rappers from Atlanta and Los Angeles.
Flocabulary recently raised $1.5 million after 12 years of bootstrapping. The company also posted $8.75 million in revenue last year. They currently have 50 employees and over 20,000 schools use Flocabulary’s standards-based videos, instructional activities and formative assessments to develop core literacy skills and supplement instruction.
Why they’re different: Alex Rappaport, CEO, states, “We’re focused on addressing fundamental classroom needs, and we validate those needs by prioritizing user feedback and spending a lot of time communicating with teachers and students. We believe that student engagement is essential, and Flocabulary’s educational hip-hop videos provide a firm foundation of engagement that students can build on. One of the most unique aspects of Flocabulary’s growth story is that we bootstrapped for 12 years before raising our first round of institutional capital. Flocabulary is now used in more than 20,000 schools, reaching millions of students. The recent release of our mobile app, which features all of our videos and new vocabulary quizzes, also allows us to reach kids at home.”
Early Childhood and Elementary
Caribu is an award-winning education platform that helps parents, extended family, and mentors read and draw with children when they’re not together. Caribu compares itself to FaceTime meeting Kindle for kids. They provide an engaging experience in a carefully designed, curated, and secure platform. An in-app bookstore is where over 200 books from leading children’s publishers, in six languages, are available for purchase. Other features include interactive real-time drawing, a pointer to follow along, and a magnifying tool. They are currently negotiating a seed round, and annual revenue to date is under $100K. They have two full-time employees, 127,000 downloads and 13,000 paying users in 145 countries.
Why they’re different: Maxeme Tuchman, CEO, claims, “We’re different because we allow families to create engaging educational experiences and spend quality time with their little ones when they’re far away. Many apps allow your children to read books solo or have books read to them by the app, but Caribu allows any parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle to read and draw in real time during a video call.”