Cortado Ventures
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Cortado Ventures

CORTADO VENTURES

The Opportunity in Edtech

The world is changing, and Boddle is leading the way

Even before COVID-19, education has been changing. Student outcomes improve with personalized education, and engaging with technology has only just begun. Cortado invests in companies changing how we live, learn and work for the better. Our investment in Boddle capitalizes on this conviction.

Tulsa based Boddle is an edtech company with a math-based computer game for students, and is developing a curriculum agnostic and marketplace platform. They have reached several promising milestones, including growing to over 3,525 Daily Active Users on the platform. They now have more than 368,000 registered users. With this investment, Cortado is capitalizing on the global move to online education. We have been very impressed with the founding team with their background in gaming and their ability to earn adoption within the education community. Cortado is poised to help with our team and network’s connections in the largest school districts in the state. Founders Edna Martinson and Clarence Tan have built an engaging platform for math students, transforming math with a 3D math game that makes learning fun and personalized. Boddle uses AI to adapt and tailor practice and learning content to the right level for each child.

With any learning process, it’s important to take it step by step. Boddle’s algorithm tracks students’ performance to identify which building-block skills still need reinforcement before they can branch out to more advanced skills. Then, Boddle’s AI populates the game with just-right content for each student’s individual learning needs. This helps ensure that students achieve mastery in key foundational skills and learn at the right pace for them — because every child is different! — Boddle Learning

The Opportunity for Boddle’s Solution

The U.S. spends over $739 billion annually on public elementary and secondary education (K-12), which amounts to $14,100 per public school student[1]. When compared to the average expenditures of other Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries the U.S. spends approximately 37% more, yet American students continue to fall behind. As of 2018, the U.S. public education system’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) scores ranked 38th, 19th, and 14th for mathematics, science, and reading, respectively[2]. PISA scores evaluate member and non-member OECD educational systems by measuring 15-year-old students’ scholastic performance on mathematics, science, and reading.

In addition to lackluster PISA scores, the National Center for Education Statistics estimates that 59% of elementary school students are below academic proficiency standards for reading and 65% are below for mathematics[3]. When asked what are the greatest hinderances to academic proficiency, teachers point to a lack of engagement with students and the ability to address individuals’ gaps in understanding. It is difficult to get students to engage in practicing and they risk falling behind and not mastering a subject or topic. Once a student develops learning gaps it’s very hard for educators to find and address them given the large size of classes. The average class size for public elementary school in the U.S. is approximately 21 students[4]. Younger students struggle with boredom and staying engaged this is due to the way learning is delivered and a mismatch between students’ proficiency and the content delivered. Unfortunately, research shows that once a student falls behind, they are less likely to catch up to their peers and learning gaps begin to compound[5]. The solution to this is more engaging and personalized learning for students. The Rand Corporation, a global think tank has published extensive research on how personalized learning can improve educational outcomes for students[6]. The U.S. educational system is at a pivotal moment where it can either use technology and embrace a new personalized and engaging system or it can cling to the antiquated and flawed “one-size-fits-all” system. This is exactly what Boddle Learning (Boddle), a Tulsa, Oklahoma based startup is seeking to do.

Boddle Introduction

Boddle is the developer of a personalized online game-based learning platform for K-12 students. The company’s platform delivers interactive practice and assessment materials in a fun, online gaming format that utilizes adaptive learning to provide customized and engaging education for each user. The platform uses a proprietary adaptive learning algorithm to tailor practice to where individual student’s learning gaps are, and the platform can automatically generate homework and exams. This automatized approach helps save teachers four to five hours every week. Boddle works with any existing subject or topic which allows content providers the ability to pair their learning materials with the Boddle platform, which creates a more interactive learning experience for students. This is very important for many schools as funding is awarded based upon standardized state and national test scores. This in turn drives purchasing decisions at the individual school and district level. Once students begin using the platform, Boddle has seen student engagement double and learning gaps dissipate. Additionally, there has been an outpour of positive testimonials from educators and parents.

Market and Trends

The U.S. education market was estimated to be approximately $1.41 trillion in 2018 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.7% through 2025[7]. The primary and secondary education market makes up about half of this at approximately $670 billion[8]. Out of this the U.S. edtech market saw about $35 billion in annual revenue. The global market brought in around $227 billion annually with an estimated CAGR of 16.3% for the period of 2019 to 2025[9]. The market has been a beneficiary of the switch to remote learning as adoption increased significantly because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Before the pandemic the global market was expected to grow at a 13.1% CAGR and reach a value of $341 billion by 2025. COVID-19 helped to normalize education technology as a tool for students, teachers, and parents and now the market is expected to reach $404 billion in the same period. While this is a sizable market, edtech currently only represents 3.1% of total K-12 education expenditures, thus this market has a large growth potential with ample room for growth as technology integration increases in schools. Additionally, this bump in demand is expected to continue as schools will likely use a blended (partially in-person and online) system as lockdowns recede. As of 2020, there were 130,930 K-12 schools with more than 50.8 million students in the U.S. alone[10].

Data from Holon IQ — Global EdTech Market Report

Besides increased demand from the switch to remote schooling some of the other key industry growth drivers are demand for digital solutions that increase student engagement and personalized learning. Large class sizes have made it difficult for teachers to provide one-on-one instruction for their students and the “one-size-fits-all” education system has left many students with learning gaps[11]. This has created an opportunity for technology to supplement the role of teachers through tech platforms that alter content to make it more engaging and bespoke to students’ learning styles.

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We’re an early-stage venture capital firm that invests in ambitious, growth-driven companies to help define Oklahoma and the Midcontinent's success story for generations to come

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Nathaniel Harding

Nathaniel Harding

Managing Partner for Cortado Ventures and Young Global Leader in the World Economic Forum. Investor and advisor for tech startups, building a better future.

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