K-12 Dealmaking: Brighteye Ventures Invests in Zen Educate; Code Combat Raises $6 Million

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In recent dealmaking news, Zen Educate, a U.K. company focused on school staffing, has raked in millions of Euros in new funding from the venture-capital firm Brighteye Ventures, among others. CodeCombat, a California company focused on science and coding, has raised $6 million. And a South African education company has raised money to support an international expansion.

ZenEducate takes in £5.6 million. A digital-staffing platform based in London, Zen Educate announced it has raised funding in a round led by Brighteye Ventures, a venture capital firm focused on making investments in ed tech in Europe.

Brighteye Ventures, based in Luxembourg, touts itself as Europe’s largest ed-tech venture capital firm, and it has been active in pouring money into learning technology companies since its founding in 2017. (See EdWeek Market Brief’s interview with leaders of the fund, Alex Spiro and Benoit Wirz, who discussed their ambitions.)

Other participants in the the Zen Educate funding round included Adjuvo, the UK investment syndicate, and Nick Hungerford, the founder of online investment platform Nutmeg. Zen Educate says it will use the funding to solidify its status in the London market, and to expand in the British city of Manchester.  The latest fundraising round brings Zen Educate’s total fundraising to date to  £8.2 million.

Founded in 2017, Zen Educate seeks to provide a one-stop shop for school staffing needs and an alternative to recruitment agencies.

“UK schools are under an immense amount of financial pressure right now, that’s why we’re committed to cutting down supply cover costs significantly so they can spend more on what matters–the children–not on agency fees,” said Slava Kremerman, co-founder and CEO of Zen Educate, in a statement. “By removing the middleman, teachers and schools can cover staff absence with ease, reducing uncertainty, increasing wages and saving costs.”

CodeCombat Raises $6 million. CodeCombat announced that it closed a $6 million Series A funding round, led by Veronica Wu from Hone Capital.

Other investors in the funding round included Andreessen Horowitz, Extol Capital, and OceanOne Capital.

Based in San Francisco, CodeCombat makes computer-science programs to help students pick up skills in JavaScript and Python by using games. The new funding is designed to help CodeCombat create Ozaria, a game-based environment in which students are immersed in an imaginary world and save it from impending darkness by mastering computational thinking, learning JavaScript or Python, and thinking creatively.

The funding round will also support CodeCombat’s expansion in the U.S. and help the company partnerships in China, including with partners NetEase and Tarena, the company said.

Snapplify Takes in $2 million. South Africa-based ed-tech company Snapplify has raised $2 million with an eye on international expansion.

The company, which describes itself as Africa’s largest e-book aggregator and distributor, raised that money via the venture capital firm Knife Capital, as well as from African investment manager Hlayisani Capital’s Hlayisani Growth Fund. The company says the new money will allow it to expand its market footprint and develop its business, according to a report in Disrupt Africa.

“We are excited to have Knife Capital and Hlayisani on board to enable this vision, particularly because in addition to financial backing, we also need expert guidance from an aligned shareholder base to expand more aggressively into new markets in our next growth phase,”  said Snapplify CEO Wesley Lynch, in a statement.

Africa has become a laboratory for ed-tech companies in recent years, as entrepreneurs seek to create products in language learning, data-management, and tutoring, across a region that has traditionally had little access to technology and where the market among school and family buyers has been limited. One vehicle for supporting fledgling companies on the continent has been the South Africa-based ed-tech accelerator Injini. See EdWeek Market Brief’s interview with a top Injini official on the promise of the African education market, and the hurdles companies need to consider before investing there.

Kenzie Academy Raises Funding: A coding and tech apprentice program based in Indiana, Kenzie Academy, announced that it has pulled in $7.8 million in Series A funding.

The company, which offers online training in software engineering, digital marketing and other areas, plans to use the investment to expand its ed-tech offerings and make a push to increase its enrollment in Indiana, where it is based, and nationally, according to a report in the Indianapolis Business Journal.

In Kenzie’s model, students aren’t required to pay tuition costs until they get a job earning at least $40,000 annually, the Journal reported.

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