K-12 Dealmaking: Virginia Company WorldStrides Takes In $500 Million Investment; British Startups Raise Funds

Contributing Writer

WorldStrides, a company that focuses on student travel and study abroad, has picked up a $500 million strategic investment. Also, two British ed-tech startups closed funding rounds.

WorldStrides to Receive Strategic Investment: WorldStrides, a student travel and study abroad organization, said in a statement that it has taken in a strategic investment from Paris-based investment company Eurazeo, as well as the Primavera Capital Group, a China-based investment firm.

In a separate statement from Eurozeo, Paris-based firm said its total investment will be in the $500 million range, pending further adjustments through transaction close which is expected to occur by year end; Eurozeo’s majority investment will be accompanied by a minority investment by Primavera Capital Group.

Virginie Morgon, the deputy CEO of Eurazeo and president and CEO of Eurazeo North America, said her firm is “impressed by the company’s growth in recent years, along with its unmatched breadth and depth of educational travel offerings. Eurazeo has developed a significant international presence, which will be leveraged to strengthen and accelerate WorIdStrides’ presence in Europe and Asia.”

Added Dr. Fred Hu, founder of Primavera Capital Group: “We see a strong secular trend driving demand for global student travel into and out of the Greater China region,” We look forward to working closely with Eurazeo and Jim Hall and the management team to accelerate the company’s expansion into international markets.”

“We also are excited to welcome Eurazeo and Primavera to our investment group and look forward to capitalizing on their resources and network, particularly throughout Europe and Asia where there are significant opportunities for us to grow,” said Jim Hall, president and CEO of WorldStrides, which is based in Charlottesville, Va.

The company’s programs are designed for student from elementary through post-graduate levels, and feature specializations such as performing arts, sports and study abroad. WorldStrides partners with more than 7,000 K-12 schools and 800 universities, including MBA programs.

SAM Labs Raises $6.75 Million: SAM Labs, a London-based ed-tech startup that develops STEAM (science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics) classroom solutions, has completed a $6.75M Series A round of financing led by Touchstone Innovations and E15 Ventures, according to a statement posted to The PE Hub Network.

SAM Labs will use the funding to develop a number of new educational products that “support its mission to inspire every student to discover the fun in coding and creating,” the company said. Last year, the company raised $4.7 million.

“This round of funding will increase our time spent working closely with teachers, administrators, and standards like NGSS to develop the most engaging teaching materials, hardware, and software to excite students about the possibilities of STEAM,” said Joachim Horn, founder and CEO of SAM Labs.

SAM Labs noted it will also continue growing its partnerships with government organizations like the city of Helsinki and the UAE Ministry of Education, as well as companies like Microsoft Education and Intel Education. (See EdWeek MarketBrief’s recent story on the surging K-12 market in the United Arab Emirates.)

UBTECH Robotics Raising $400 Million: Shenzhen-based robot maker UBTECH is raising $400 million in a Series C funding round currently led by Tencent Holdings, a Chinese internet conglomerate that frequently invests in the education sector, according to press reports.

UBTECH, which develops humanoid robots for entertainment and educational purposes that encourage STEM learning, surpassed 1 billion valuation and became a unicorn startup company, according to the company website.

Earlier this month, Wonder Workshop, creator of robots designed to teach kids of all ages creative problem solving, coding, and robotics, closed a Series C funding round and associated financing of $41 million. The round included investments from Tencent and TAL Education Group, among others.

Wonky Star Rasies $793,000: Ed-tech startup Wonky Star, also based in London, has raised approximately $793,000 in a funding round led by Newable Private Investing, according to press reports.

The firm is the developer of Night Zookeeper, a digital learning tool used by children in UK and U.S. schools.

The additional funding will allow Night Zookeeper to expand into more schools, reports said following Oxford University Press’ agreement to rollout a book series based on the Night Zookeeper, reports said.

Learning Genie Joins NewSchools Venture Fund Cohort: Learning Genie, a personalized learning platform for early learning educators, administrators and parents, has joined the fall 2017 Ignite cohort at NewSchools Venture Fund, according to a statement.

The Carlsbad, Calif.-based company is one of 15 ed tech companies awarded funding through the NewSchools Ignite Early Learning Challenge. Learning Genie provides an app designed to help teachers with evidence-based assessments, generating analytical reports, and creating personalized lesson plans.

The grant supports Learning Genie’s “commitment to continuously innovate and build its personalized learning platform to support teachers and underrepresented students in Head Start communities and state-funded preschools,” the company said.

Edmit Raises $855,000: Ed-tech startup Edmit closed an $855,000 pre-seed round. Participation came from Bessemer Venture Partner’s 15 Angels fund; Rethink Education’s seed fund in partnership with Southern New Hampshire University; Boston and non-Boston investors including Rob Biederman, founder and co-CEO of Catalant; and other individual investors, according to press reports and a blog post by the company.

The Boston-based company is developing a financial planning platform for college-bound students. “Our goal at Edmit is to demystify college financial aid, scholarships, and tuition, and act as a buyer’s agent for college,” Nick Ducoff, co-founder and CEO wrote in the post. “You wouldn’t buy a house without using Zillow or Redfin, and now you have Edmit to help you get the best deal for college.”

He noted that with this early stage venture capital investment, the company will expand its higher education technology service to cover every four-year college in the U.S. and accelerate the release of its public beta platform later this year.

Edmit aims to enable students to build a profile, determine a personal net tuition estimate, and connect students directly with top choice college and provide tools to secure a better price.

“One of the greatest challenges facing college-bound students and their families is understanding what the real cost of attendance will be,” Michelle Dervan, principal at Rethink Education, said in the blog post. “This information is critical in enabling financial planning and setting the student up for success toward graduation. We are delighted to be an early supporter of the Edmit team as they work to bring a greater degree of price transparency to the higher education sector.”

Carnegie Learning, NWEA Form Partnership: Mathematics education company Carnegie Learning and NWEA, a not-for profit creator of assessment solutions based in Portland, Ore., have partnered to create a customized and personalized math learning solution.

The partnership aims to enable teachers to instantly integrate MAP Growth assessment results directly into Carnegie’s MATHia digital learning platform, adapting the platform for each student, and provide a personalized learning experience that increases student engagement, understanding and ownership of their learning, the companies said in a statement.

Be sure to check back on Marketplace K-12 for updates on mergers, acquisitions, fundraising, and other dealmaking.

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