K-12 Dealmaking: Kobe Bryant Invests in Chinese Ed. Company; Nepris, RedShelf Raise Funds

Contributing Writer

The ed-tech market has seen a handful of new investments both in the U.S. and abroad recently. One notable deal was Nepris, an online community that brings together educators and industry professionals, raising $1 million from investors including the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation.

In addition, a venture-capital firm co-led by former NBA star Kobe Bryant is investing in a Chinese education platform that provides English-language lessons.

Nepris Gains $1 Million: Nepris, an online platform that connects companies, professionals and experts to expand education outreach to classrooms, closed a $1 million seed funding round led by the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation.

Additional funders include Silicon Valley Social Venture Fund, Investor’s Circle Patient Capital Collaborative, Voqual and other angel investors.

Nepris co-founder and CEO, Sabari Raja, said in a statement that the funding will be used to redesign the Nepris site to simplify the connection process for teachers and professionals, and expand Nepris’ work with economic development councils and workforce boards, giving them a platform to scale industry and education connections at a regional level. The money will also help boost the number of industry offered sessions, known as industry chats, which often attract multiple classrooms from across the country, and reach more rural and lower-socioeconomic school districts where students have the greatest need, the company executive said.

Nepris brings together educators and industry professionals in an online community to collaborate and connect through live online interactive sessions where students “get to see what they’re learning in the classroom applied to the working world,” according to the Dallas-based company.

RedShelf Raises $4 Million: RedShelf, a Chicago-based educational software company and distributor of eTextbooks in the U.S., has closed a $4 million Series B led by Rick Patterson of Coniston Capital Coniston Capital with participation from existing investors including the National Association of College Stores.

The company noted in a statement that it will use the funding for new product development, feature enhancements to its existing cloud-based eReader platform, and team expansion.

Kobe Backs Chinese ed. platform: VIPKID, a Chinese platform to provide English-language lessons for children between 5 and 12 years old, has received an undisclosed investment amount from the $100 million fund by Bryant Stibel, the venture capital firm announced by Kobe Bryant and Jeff Stibel.

The new funding will “accelerate VIPKID’s plans to fuel efforts in curriculum and product development, and maintain its leading position in content, teaching standards, product experience, and service quality,” according to a statement.

Silicon Valley venture capital firm Learn Capital facilitated the connection between VIPKID and Bryant Stibel, according to the statement. Earlier this month on Aug. 3, VIPKID announced a $100 million Series C round led jointly by Sequoia Capital and Jack Ma’s Yunfeng Capital.

In the Indian ed-tech market:

Sorting Hat Technologies Raises $1 Million: Bengaluru, India-based Sorting Hat Technologies Pvt. Ltd, has raised $1 million from investors, including Flipkart co-founders Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal, and Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma, according to press reports.

Sorting Hat runs educational-technology platform Unacademy, which touts itself as India’s largest free learning platform.

ConveGenius Receives $900,000: Online learning platform ConveGenius has received $900,000 from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, according to press reports.

The India and Singapore-based “edutainment” startup offers mobile-based learning products. The company is focused on “digitizing education and making it affordable, fun and rewarding,” according to its website.

Be sure to check back on Marketplace K-12 for updates on mergers, acquisitions, fundraising, and other dealmaking. Also see EdWeek Market Brief, a service that gives companies operating in the market insights on the needs and priorities of school officials.

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