K-12 Dealmaking: Blue Studios Raises Money from UAE; New York VC Invests $10M in Austrian Company

Contributing Writer

Venture capitalists continue to see a high value in the ed-tech market amid a dynamic K-12 business landscape spurred by the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic.

Silicon Valley was an especially hot area for recent ed-tech investments, with African American woman-led Blue Studios receiving funding from a UAE firm and an upskilling platform receiving $32 million from Owl Ventures. Create & Learn, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based company focused on K-12 STEM classes with real-world applications, raised $1.7 million in seed funding. Notable investments took place in Saudi Arabia and India as well.

Further, Austrian tutoring platform GoStudent raised a hefty $9.4 million Series A investment from a New York venture firm.

African American woman-led Silicon Valley ed tech secures ‘major’ financing from a UAE investor. Dubai-based Global Millennial Capital has made a “major” investment for an undisclosed amount in Blue Studios, a San Francisco-based ed-tech company started last year by Kelley Cambry, an African American woman entrepreneur, according to a press release.

The specific amount of the investment was not disclosed.

Blue Studios Inc., established in 2019, is a subscription-based platform that provides on-demand STEM classes online. The company relies on a business-to-consumer model, connecting families to STEM classes taught by instructors.

The company has received previous support from global investors including San Francisco-based 500 Startups and Boulder, Colo.-based Techstars.

Global Millennial Capital aims to support Blue Studios’ expansion ambitions by introducing the ed-tech marketplace into emerging markets, and connecting company founders with local influencer and teacher talent, according to the press release.

“We share their passion in providing accessible, scalable opportunities to the busy, connected modern family,” Cambry said in a statement.

Create & Learn, teaching computer science and STEM, raises seed round. Create & Learn, which teaches computer science in small online groups, has raised $1.7 million from GSV Ventures in its seed round of funding. With the infusion, the company said it will hire more instructors and take on more students in the U.S. and abroad.

Focused on small group, project-based online learning, Create & Learn is led by one of the founding members of the Google Cloud Platform, Jessie Jiang. She was inspired to develop the curriculum by teaching computer science to her six-year-old daughter and seeing the gaps between innovation in the real world and what was being taught in K-12 computer science, according to the company’s announcement.

“We saw the huge potential of live online interactive learning 2.5 years ago,” said Create & Learn’s founder and CEO Jiang. “COVID-19 has accelerated online learning 10 years in the last three months and we’re excited to be leading the innovation in online learning combined with project- and inquiry-based learning.

“The coronavirus has instantly forced 1.6 billion students and teachers, more than 90 percent of learners and educators around the world, to go online,” said Michael Moe from GSV Ventures, in the announcement. Digital learning will reach about $1 trillion by 2027, he said.

Create & Learn has marketed its classes to families, and its curriculum is being taught in some California K-12 schools. Among its programs is one to teach artificial intelligence to 4th-6th graders.

Upskilling platform raises $32 million. Degreed, a Silicon Valley-based upskilling platform, announced it has raised $32 million in a funding round led by Bay Area-based Owl Ventures.

Degreed integrates and curates learning resources including learning management systems, videos, articles, books, courses, and podcasts.

The new funding was provided in response to “record demand” for Degreed in the last six months, according to the company.

More than one in seven current Degreed users activated their accounts between April and May, and new clients include Ford, Fidelity Investments, and South Africa’s Standard Bank.

Degreed said the funding round will help ramp up its career mobility roadmap, a platform that connects users to project, gig, and job opportunities.

“With this latest funding round, Degreed is well-positioned to shape a future where a person’s skills are the measure of their success, and not their job titles,” said Ian Chiu, managing director of Owl Ventures, in a statement.

Saudi company raises $13 million. In a pre-Series B round led by Riyadh venture capital firm STV, Saudi online learning company Noon Academy has raised $13 million, according to an article in MenaBytes.

STV co-led Noon Academy’s $8.6 million Series A round a year ago.

Over 6 million registered users access the online learning platform for Noon Academy, which started in 2013 as a simple test preparation company.

Noon Academy co-founder and CEO Mohammed Aldhalaan said in a statement to MenaBytes that his company plans to use the investment to “bring together” 50 million students and tutors from around the world by 2023. The company also plans to put funds toward adding accessibility and customization features to the app.

Noon Academy claims to have doubled its userbase since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, adding 3 million new students to the platform, according to the article.

“Ed tech has largely been focused on serving education, but the next generation of ed-tech companies are taking a student-centric approach,” STV investment principal Ahmad Alshammari said in a statement for the article. “Noon Academy is one of the companies spearheading the efforts toward direct-to-student learning.”

Austrian GoStudent raises $9.4 million. Vienna-based digital learning platform GoStudent raised $9.4 million in a Series A round led by New York-based Left Lane Capital, the venture firm announced.

GoStudent was founded in 2016, and connects students to tutors for synchronous individual and group sessions.

The company will use the financing to expand its footprint in Europe by accelerating new customer and tutor acquisition in the German region of the continent, and “further investments into product,” according to Left Lane’s announcement.

The current crisis not only demands the need to drive forward the digitalization of the education system, but also clearly highlights the opportunity to supplement the existing traditional education system,” GoStudent founder and CEO Felix Ohswald said in a statement. “For us, the investment is primarily a strategic move for the future. Our plan is to expand beyond the German-speaking countries by the end of the year.”

London-based DN Capital joined the round alongside existing investors.

India exams startup eclipses $2 million in pre-Series A funding. Instasolv, an ed-tech startup based in the New Delhi area, has received $2 million in pre-Series A funding from undisclosed investors, according to an article in Tech Story.

The company, which was founded in 2019, runs an app that helps students in grades 6-12 prepare for exams.

Instasolv will use a portion of the funding to develop more features for the app, according to the article.

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