K-12 Dealmaking: XanEdu Restructures Financially After New Investment; China’s Tencent Leads Fundraising Round

Staff Writer

In K-12 dealmaking news, a Chicago-based firm unveils major investment in custom content provider XanEdu. India-based personalized learning startup Doubtnut announces a $15 million Series A funding round. A music education startup raises $250,000 and a Los Angeles-based professional development service for early educators receives a $25,000 grant.

Meanwhile, New Zealand tutoring company Eurekly launches in the U.S. and Indian ed-tech startup Embibe raises funding.

XanEdu gets recapitalized. Frontenac, a Chicago-based investment firm, announced the financial restructuring of Ann Arbor, Mich.-based XanEdu, a leading provider of custom content solutions to the K-12 and higher education markets.

XanEdu partners with educators to develop custom course materials and curricula to meet students’ needs, and has access to a content library of 8 million items.

“This new partnership with Frontenac and the access to strategic insight and capital will be valuable in executing our ambitious growth plans in 2020 and beyond,” XanEdu CEO John DeBoer said in a statement.

Frontenac executive partner and former Thomson Higher Education CFO Ty Field joined the XanEdu board of directors as executive chairman at the closing of the deal, Frontenac announced.

While financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed, Frontenac focuses on lower middle-market businesses where they have experience and can offer capital solutions that assist in accelerating growth, Ben Heverly, senior associate for education consulting firm Whiteboard Advisors, said in an email.

Frontenac’s investments typically total $50 million-$150 million, Heverly noted.

Major Chinese investor leads $15 million Series A round for India startup. Indian ed-tech startup Doubtnut raised $15 million in a Series A funding round led by Chinese investor Tencent, LiveMint reported.

Existing investors Omidyar Network India, AET, Sequoia Capital India, and Cure.Fit co-founder Ankit Nagori participated in the round.

Doubtnut will use the funds to spread its distribution across India, build its content repository, invest in strengthening its technology stack, and scaling its team, according to LiveMint.

Launched in October 2017, Doubtnut is an online multilingual learning platform catering to K-12 students that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning for image recognition, and provides video-based solutions in response to students’ questions.

“Building on its core functionality of doubt resolution, the company has today built a large and engaged student community,” Omidyar Network India investment partner Badri Pillapakkam said in a statement, according to LiveMint. “Through its structured content offering across multiple subjects, Doubtnut is now becoming a one-stop solution for its students.”

Music education startup raises $250,000. Richmond, Va.-based startup Light the Music has raised $250,000 in convertible debt funding to further develop educational tools, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

The investment will enable the company to integrate its technology and tools within school curricula, co-founder Steve Van Dam told the Times-Dispatch.

“Startups do capital raises for a lot of different reasons,” Van Dam said. “Sometimes, it is just to keep the lights on, keep gas in the tanks, until they figure out a product. For us, it is a little bit different. We raised enough money that we can fund the next level of tech that we need.”

Light the Music provides music curricula, including through an app that powers music-making by looping over 120 instruments and combining sounds with visuals, providing genres including jazz, world, and orchestral.

The company plans to use the funding to build further tools including training and assessments to help it provide the software to more schools.

Philanthropic organization provides grant for early education online platform. The S. Mark Taper Foundation has given early learning company Child360 a $25,000 grant to enhance its online learning platform for early educators, Child360 announced in a press release.

The grant will develop additional online courses and translate those courses into several languages, and will help more early educators improve the quality of care they provide, the company said.

Based in Los Angeles, Child360 offers professional development focusing on emerging trends and curriculum approaches such as trauma-informed care; behavior management; and science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics. The company also strives to ease common professional development obstacles for educators, such as lack of time, physical space, and finances.

The S. Mark Taper Foundation is a private philanthropic family foundation.

Through the grant, Child360 is making professional development for educators more accessible and a place where they can connect regardless of their schedule, the company said.

“High-quality early learning starts with high-quality professional development,” Child360 CEO William Sperling said in a statement. “And every early learning educator should have access to such resources. This grant does exactly that—we’re bringing first-rate professional development into the comfort of your own home, at your own pace, in your native language; with access to relevant courses, proven teaching strategies, and opportunities to connect with peers and mentors.”

The grant will also be used for 100 in-person orientations in Southern California to help early educators maximize their understanding on how best to use Child360, according to Child360 spokesperson Tiernan Bertrand-Essington.

“The majority of the funding is for course development and translation which will reach educators anywhere (even globally),” Bertrand-Essington said in an email. “The reach goes far beyond California.”

Tutoring company founded in New Zealand launches in the U.S. Eurekly: The First Global Learning Arena is also in the process of moving its headquarters to San Francisco, and has started a $2 million seed fundraising round to support marketing and platform development after $1.5 million has been invested in the company, Eurekly announced in a press release.

“I started Eurekly because I saw the need for an online platform that would be a one-stop-shop for all learning needs, provide a social learning environment, and allow users to connect with the student in them,” Eurekly founder Austen Clarke said in a statement.

The company provides an all-in-one live tutoring platform with over 100 subject areas and over 600 tutors giving lessons to 2,000 students worldwide, and offers shared whiteboards, text editors, and screen sharing.

“We are thrilled to begin focused marketing efforts in the U.S. to take advantage of the tremendous demand for access to online learning resources that are innovative, interactive and inherently social,” Clarke said.

India startup raises $12.6 million from existing investor. India-based ed-tech startup Embibe raised $12.6 million from existing investor and shareholder Reliance Industries, YourStory reported.

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

“The investment in Embibe underlines Reliance’s commitment to growing the education sector in India and the world, and making education accessible to the widest possible group of students by deploying technology,” Akash Ambani, director of Reliance telecom subsidiary Reliance Jio, said in a statement to YourStory. “Reliance aims to connect over 1.9 million schools and 58,000 universities across India with technology.”

Reliance had previously invested $180 million in Embibe over three years, with part of the amount allocated toward acquiring a 72.7 percent stake from Embibe’s existing investors.

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