K-12 Dealmaking: LearnLaunch Accelerator Welcomes New Companies; New Investments Made in India’s Ed Tech Sector

Contributing Writer

Even as the coronavirus shuts down schools and pushes learning online, deals are still getting done and investments are still being made in education companies. In recent news, LearnLaunch announced a new cohort of five companies that it will invest in.

Three Indian ed-tech startups secure a combined $72.9 million in new investments. And a company that developed a virtual English tutor for children has raised $1 million in a seed round.

LearnLaunch invests in five ed-tech startups with foundation support. LearnLaunch Accelerator, a leading ed-tech startup accelerator based in Boston, on Tuesday announced it has begun investing in five ed-tech companies as part of a cohort that started this week. It also said that the ECMC Foundation is putting money into the accelerator.

The five companies LearnLaunch is investing in are Immersed Games, a creator of modular video game content; Jobspeaker, a program that seeks to bridge the gap between education and the workforce;  Peerceptiv, a provider of peer assessment enhanced by artificial intelligence; Riff Analytics, a platform that is integrated into online courses and facilitates small-group learning; and Solfeg.io, a company that uses hit songs and an AI chatbot for music instruction.

Riff Analytics uses real-time feedback to help small groups learn how to work together online. Learning providers integrate Riff into online courses to create meaningful opportunities for peer interaction and collaboration.

Peerceptiv provides infinitely scalable learning through AI-enhanced peer assessment. The research-validated scoring measures and enhances 21st century skills essential for success both in the classroom and in the workforce.

The ECMC Foundation is a national foundation that works to improve postsecondary outcomes for students from underserved backgrounds.

In a statement, Jessica Haselton, director of program-related investments at the foundation, said the investment was made to support further development of innovation in education to help build evidence-based practice in the field.

“As the world changes rapidly in response to COVID-19, traditional education delivery is changing precipitously,” Jean Hammond, general partner at LearnLaunch, said in a statement.

“We’ve been talking about ‘the future of education’ for too long and now the future is here,” she said. “Unfortunately, education systems are underprepared. Technology can, eventually, aid in the delivery and communication for every learner — the gaps are more apparent now than ever before. This cohort features companies supporting this physical to digital transition across k-12, higher ed, and workforce.”

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, LearnLaunch will undergo “significant adjustments” in the in-person services it provides its startups, though leaders of the accelerator are committed to working through the new challenges, Ben Bungert, director of operations for the accelerator, said in a statement.

Reliance Industries invests $65.9 million in Indian ed-tech startup. India-based ed-tech startup Embibe raised $65.9 million from existing investor and shareholder Reliance Industries Ltd., an India-based multinational conglomerate and investment company, EnTrackr reported.

Reliance invested $12.6 million in Embibe in February, and had previously invested $180 million in the company over three years.

But the $65.9 million amount is the single largest fund infusion from Reliance Industries since the firm officially acquired Embibe in April 2018, according to EnTrackr.

Embibe leverages data analytics to deliver personalized learning outcomes, detailing student performance on critical exam performance metrics like speed, accuracy, time management, and stamina.

Embibe acquired online test preparation startup MockBank last year, and more recently snapped up test prep platform OnlineTyari, according to the article.

Indian tutoring startup raises $4 million. India-based tutoring startup Camp K12 attracted $4 million in seed funding in a round led by venture capital funds Matrix Partners and SAIF Partners, according to an article in BW Disrupt.

Camp K12 has trained over 50,000 students, partnered with hundreds of schools, and intends to build a global user base for its platform, according to the article.

“Camp K12’s custom-built virtual classroom environment for small-group learning, their pedagogy, and their curriculum reflect a passion for education, deep consumer understanding, and profound technical capability,” Mukul Arora, managing director of SAIF Partners, said in a statement. “We feel this market is going to grow exponentially.”

The company connects students with tutors online, focusing on live learning courses in science, technology, engineering, and arts and mathematics (STEAM).

Indian gaming, quizzing, and tutoring startup raises $3 million. Ed-tech startup Lido Learning has raised $3 million as part of a Series B funding round, and will hire 500 online tutors in India this month, according to an article by Outlook India.

The company, which provides live online tutorials with expert tutors as well as immersive games and quizzes, secured new investors including technology investment firm Picus Capital and Madhur Deora, president of Indian e-commerce and financial technology company Paytm, in Lido’s most recent funding round.

The company has brought 100 online tutors on board in the last several weeks, the article states.

“Given this tough time of unprecedented layoffs and a massive economic downturn in India, Lido Learning is one of the few startups to ramp up its hiring across teams,” the company told Outlook India.

The COVID-19 crisis has led several schools in India to move toward online learning, Lido said in a statement.

Developer of virtual English tutor raises $1 million. MyBuddy.ai has raised $1 million from Russian venture capital firm LETA Capital in a seed funding round to meet “sharp growth in demand for online education,” according to a press release.

Created in Russia, MyBuddy.ai is now based in San Francisco. In January, the company merged with ed-tech startup Edwin, which utilizes artificial intelligence to aid in learning of English as a foreign language.

Mybuddy.ai’s user base grew tenfold over the last 12 months, and has exceeded 20,000 paying students, according to the press release.

The company will put the investment toward further development of the product and launching it in new regions.

The platform’s next addition will be a free mini-course about health that teaches spoken English while providing essential knowledge about how to stay healthy and prevent diseases.

“The demand for online education is rising sharply due to the pandemic,” MyBuddy.ai co-founder and CEO Ivan Crewkov said in a statement. “This has exacerbated the chronic shortage of qualified English language teachers needed for half a billion kids struggling to learn English as a second language. Our AI-powered tutor Buddy can handle the mundane part of their work.”

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