Yearly review and perspectives — 2023

Educapital
Educapital
Published in
4 min readJan 8, 2024

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2023 : a hard-to-read year

The last quarter of 2023 saw a continuation of the first nine months of the year, which were marked by an unfavorable macro-economic climate that did not spare the tech market. Inflation and the consequent tightening of monetary policy, economic uncertainty and global instability forced investors to pause.

In the Edtech & Future of Work market in particular, we estimate that last year, some $16.6 billion were raised globally, when this year they attracted just $5.7 billion (-66% YoY, see chart below).

Source: Crunchbase

When looking at the number of deals, the picture is quite different. Nearly 950 deals have been closed in 2023 — compared to 1189 last year over the same period (-20% YoY see chart below).

Source: Crunchbase

The main reason for that is a size effect. Later stage markets remained frozen when the Seed stage funding was boiling — leading to a strong decrease in the average round size.

Another thing to note is that 2023 figures hide the fact that as Rebecca Lynn (cofounder of Canvas Venture) explains so well, the situation is quite similar to 2009. “Venture capital firms have record amounts of cash to invest, but they are not deploying it into new deals” and “nearly half of the A and B rounds in 2023 were led by insiders protecting the overheated valuations from 2021”.

Seeing a boiling seed scene, as well as very strong trends emerging, we remain quite enthusiastic about 2024. Let’s review together what we are excited about !

“The air will come out of the AI balloon”

Few tech innovations have seen ecosystems grow as quickly as AI” (source). It is crazy to think about the fact that chatGPT was only made widely accessible at the end of 2022. Yet one quarter of the startup investment last year went to the technology. We’ll obviously continue to witness a boom in AI startup creation in the year to come — fueled by the open-sourcing of many AI models and the easiness to develop new use cases. However, let’s keep in mind that the true gold in the space is data — putting incumbents in the best place to deliver a 10x value proposition if they are able to develop a vision and sufficient resources (Workday is quite inspiring on that matter).

In EdTech, AI calls for a paradigm shift. By drastically reducing content production costs, many business models and value propositions are to be reviewed. But the very good thing is that it will attract more tech talents into the space — and new opportunities in K12 (see Nolej, MagicSchool for instance). Conversational AI will also naturally find its relevance in education, and especially in language learning (see the new English tutoring tool by Google). When looking back at the opportunities we have seen in the last couple of months, we have a particular belief in educator co-pilots, automated assessment, knowledge mapping as well as the hyper personalization of content.

In the Future of Work, AI accelerates the need for reskilling as more and more workers’ skills would be outdated or replaceable (more on this H.B.R. article). This opens lots of opportunities — whether it would be training on AI tools (see Mendo) or on its applications in a given sector (see Ecole IA in the medical field).

Training for the transition

In 2023, 27% of all capital invested in European tech has gone to Climate Tech startups (Sifted) — being the first focus of interest for investors. Interestingly, two of the four major emitting sectors of greenhouses gas — construction and agriculture — are also the most penuric ones in Europe. There is both a great business and impact potential to grab here : train a new generation of farmers (50% of current farmers will retire in the next 10 years in France) and of construction technicians to build and plan in the most resilient and sustainable way.

In this area, we particularly believe in B2B Education providers, social learning platforms, construction and agriculture reskilling/upskilling, specialized talent marketplace and workforce development, and verticalized SaaS for transition workers.

Overall, a flight-to-quality phenomenon — combined with strong trends

The drop in the amount invested in 2023 mechanically reflected a flight-to-quality phenomenon with only the best startups managing to raise funds. We therefore expect to see the emergence of particularly exciting projects led by inspiring entrepreneurs in 2024. At the same time, the return to normal of round sizes and of valuation levels will offer excellent investment opportunities.

The quality of our deal flow in Europe bodes well for the future. We are in line with our deployment strategy and ready to seize market opportunities. 2024 should bring numerous deals in AI and transition-related business that we cannot wait to have a look at!

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Educapital
Educapital

We invest in entrepreneurs shaping the future of education and work