Meet Emerge Education’s 8th cohort

We are thrilled to announce that earlier this month we launched Emerge Education’s 8th accelerator programme.

Emerge Education, Europe’s leading edtech investor, tracks thousands of edtech companies worldwide and makes a small number of investments in the highest-potential early-stage edtech ventures we find every year. Our portfolio includes Pi-top, Lingumi, and Wonde. We are proud to say that over six million learners use at least one of our products every month.

From the day of investment until today, the average Emerge company has grown 3x in value, 8x in investment raised, and 21x in revenue.

We have run accelerator programmes for four years, making over forty-five investments. From the day of investment until today, the average Emerge company has grown 3x in value, 8x in investment raised, and 21x in revenue. We have helped these companies raise a further £25+ million through our network.

How do we select founders?

Emerge Education focuses on two trends within the edtech sector:

1. Network effects: Companies that create value by digitizing core processes in teaching, learning, and their administration. They sustain value by building large networks of interdependent users and content suppliers and by building large, valuable data sets about those users. At scale, these networks and data sets make such companies extremely difficult to displace.

2. Content unbundling: Companies that create value by enabling consumers or employers to access education in a modular (as opposed to bundled) way, using technology to deliver education at scale with no loss of quality. They sustain value by building trusted education brands that become household names in certain niches.

Every six months, we speak with 500+ edtech companies from over forty countries. Our team shortlists between forty and fifty companies to interview in person. Our investment committee evaluates these on the basis of five criteria:

  • Product or solution addresses a real identifiable problem: We want to see, understand, and have evidence (e.g. initial users/customers) of the problem the startup is trying to solve and see that the product can solve it.
  • Complementing team with passion for their product and education: Determined teams with a relentless focus on customers and unit economics and the ambition to build global companies; tech needs to be part of the team DNA.
  • Proof of “delivery capability”: The startup and team needs to to show that they can ship and integrate quickly. It doesn’t need to be perfect, but we want to see delivery capability.
  • Defensible, scalable business with “secret sauce”: Defensibility based on network effects, specific technologies, or unique distribution models; and “secret sauce”, e.g. machine learning, market relationships — where is the “kicker”?
  • £250k–£1m capital requirement: We need to to believe that the startup will be able to hit milestones to prepare for a Series A in 12–24 months following our investment.

Following a unanimous decision about which companies to choose, the investor panel invests in between six and ten companies.

Introducing the EE8 Cohort

Our latest cohort consists of six exceptional edtech startups, selected from applicants spanning forty-four countries.


Network effects

Four of our cohort companies build modern user interfaces for learning or teaching and capture key insights about their usage.

Network effects: Datazar, Unispotter, Enroly, and Edval

Datazar

Datazar streamlines the research process, so that instead of using multiple products, researchers can create, organize, and share material through a single integrated platform. Datazar can be accessed from anywhere, so researchers have the same, familiar interface no matter what OS they use.

Edval

Timetabling is a complex problem. Schools simply need the smartest timetabling solutions, and this is what Edval provides.

In the UK alone, timetabling takes up the equivalent of more than 500 years of work annually.

Edval uses clever algorithms to improve staffing and rooming, directly impacting education outcomes. Edval is the Australian market leader in timetabling and growing globally. The solution saves schools an average of £100,000 per annum in staffing costs while helping to improve student behaviour and academic outcomes because schools can better match their students’ preferences with what the school can provide.

Enroly

Enroly is a peer-to-peer lead generation system for the international student recruitment sector in higher education, achieving lead-to-enrolment conversion rates 150 times higher than industry standards. Enroly connects with current international students to identify the next generation of high-value applicants. Enroly’s team aims to revolutionize the way students and institutions meet and change a multibillion-dollar industry.

Unispotter

Unispotter is an education counselling digital service helping aspiring students find, apply to, and get into the university of their choice. The service launched in Austria and Germany just eighteen months ago, with over 700,000 aspiring university students finding study opportunities via Unispotter. Unispotter is recommended by the Austrian Ministry of Education and Erasmus+ has named Unispotter an example of European best practice in digital education counselling.

Content unbundling

Two of the cohort companies build modular education offerings in lucrative skill verticals, fulfilling learners’ specific educational needs:

Content unbundling: FireTechCamp and Edacy

Edacy

Edacy is setting out to address Africa’s shortfall of 2.5 million engineers and technicians. Half of university graduates in Africa are unemployed or underemployed, even as African countries spend $4bn on importing talent from abroad — more than their combined foreign aid budget. Founded by serial entrepreneur Temitope Ola, a 2014 World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer and founder of the world’s first conversational speech recognition and search API (Koemei, recently acquired by Crealogix), Edacy is a scalable technical university poised to solve this talent problem.

African countries spend $4bn on importing talent from abroad — more than their combined foreign aid budget. Edacy is poised to solve this problem.

FireTechCamp

FireTechCamp is the UK’s leading provider of tech education for 9–17 years old. Through twenty proprietary curricula, FireTechCamp teaches kids tech skills around coding, making, and digital arts. Students work on original projects that help them learns crucial 21st-century skills like design-thinking, resiliency, communication, and collaboration.

What comes next?

During the accelerator programme, startups receive tailored support from a diverse team of functional experts and industry-savvy edtech entrepreneurs such as Jan Reichelt (founder of Mendeley), Bernhard Niesner (CEO of Busuu), Dr Paul Feldman (CEO of Jisc), and Naimish Gohil (CEO of Satchel). Some of the ways we work with our companies include one-to-one startup coaching, weekly workshops, and introductions to reference customers and pilot schools.

The EE8 cohort and Emerge Education team at the bootcamp.

The programme began with a residential bootcamp in early September in a beautiful cottage in Kent, where we spent three days together designing each company’s programme goals and co-creating a bespoke plan for each company to meet their special needs.

“A fantastic location to connect, share, learn, think & enjoy — feeling really energised after the bootcamp.” — Christoph Trost, Unispotter

During the first third of the programme, our entrepreneurs gauge the significance of the problem they solve, collect real customer feedback, and test their product/market fit with the help of world-class pedagogical experts and institutions such as UCL or Nesta.

Once the business is ready to go out to customers, the Emerge Education team and mentors help with introductions to potential partners and clients. During this period, the companies receive support from sector experts in designing and executing a sales strategy and navigating the complex sales cycles of educational institutions.

The programme will culminate with a Demo Day on November 30, when selected startups will pitch their vision to potential investors.