Digital Education is the Future and These Startups Are Here for It


Digital Education is the Future and These Startups Are Here for It

Seedstars Global

JUNE 4, 2021

Rarely has the education system been as shaken as in the last 12 months. Years of slow progress towards digitalization and new learning methods have been replaced by mandatory use of long distance communication tools, new testing methods, and a lot of creativity from teachers and parents on how to engage children in learning. With apps and different online tools becoming a part of children’s lives, it is no wonder that the EdTech startup scene has been flourishing.

According to Crunchbase, venture funding for EdTech reached 4.1 billion USD in the first seven months of 2020, which is 1.5 billion USD more than in the same time frame a year before. It is also the highest amount raised in that frame for the past five years. Most of these deals are still for U.S. based companies, with big players like Skillshare and Materclass raising funds in Series D and E, respectively. Some of the biggest deals are also in China, for example Yuanfudao raised a billion USD in Series G and Zuoyebang raised 750 million USD in Series E.

EdTech wins two years in a row

Many emerging markets are still missing the necessary infrastructure and policies working towards keeping children in school though. Due to low income, children are often forced to leave school and work at a very young age. This is why digital education is especially important in these markets. It is often an answer to issues that involve education inaccessibility and high costs, providing an innovative and quality learning environment to children.

Seedstars has recognized EdTech as one of the most high-impact sectors and we believe that technologies supporting lifelong learning and scaling access to education are priorities to address historical shortcomings. Not only have we supported EdTech startups on their journey to becoming scalable, we have also organized a series of trainings and programs to educate entrepreneurs and provide skills that were lacking in the market.

The importance of this sector was recognized by jury members in our Seedstars World Competition when EdTech startups were awarded the first place two years in a row. Blended, the 2019 Global Winner, is an Argentinian startup creating a solution that improves communication between parents and schools after realising that this is a major pain point for educational institutions across Latin America. Federico Hernandez and his team have decided to work on their startup and fight the statistics that say one out of every two students in LATAM quit school before graduating. Federico believes:

“Every problem, in the end, is an educational problem. Changing education is one of the best ways to make the world a better place.”

The Global Winner in the subsequent edition of the competition was the Russian startup StudyFree. The founder Daria Kroshkina turned her knowledge in securing educational grants and scholarships for some of the most prestigious schools into a business helping students around the world, and particularly from emerging countries. Her company has grown to have a monthly turnover rate of 60,000 USD monthly and is now part of the Seedstars investment portfolio. You can listen to our podcast episode with Daria here.

The Future is bright for EdTech

Although this year’s winner was from the FinTech sector, we have awarded the EdTech Prize in partnership with HEG. The winner was Orcas, a startup that aims to create the largest tutoring marketplace in the MENA region by connecting students with early-career professionals and teachers. They have realised that there are plenty of flexible work opportunities for university students in their home country of Egypt, but that there was also a need for qualified and trusted tutors. And thus, Orcas was created. Listen more about how they did it here.

During the competition we have seen a number of amazing startups working on EdTech innovations in their markets. Here are just some of them:

  • ELN Limited from Pakistan provides 100% online, globally accredited vocational training to over 25 countries in education, qQuality assurance and health, and safety.
  • iSchoolConnect from India improves school admissions by utilizing marketing, recruitment, assessment & engagement.
  • Alphazed from Syria is a gamified education platform for Arab kids that can turn any school- or country- curriculum into gamified content.
  • AlRawi Media from Bahrain aims at providing Arabic speakers with interactive audio content that is diverse, engaging and easily accessible through an app.
  • Zydii from Kenya is an end-to-end online and offline digital learning solution tailored for African businesses.
  • Neytech Solutions from Malawi offers a mobile computer lab that schools will not be required to own but can use accordingly.
  • OPower Sierra Leone is an e-learning system that blends both radio and TV, online and offline.
  • EduSynch from Brazil offers an online platform designed for educational institutions to deliver exams remotely, securely, and at scale.

With the rapid development and changes happening in the industry, there is no doubt that these startups will find their place in the ecosystem. If you want to hear about some changes that might occur in education in the future, check out the panel discussion on 21st Century Education for 21st Century Skills held during the Grand Finale.

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