It was the gap between the market need for tech professionals and the contingent of skilled labor available in Brazil that led Fábio Muniz to found Awari, an edtech that combines courses and one-on-one mentoring with tech experts focused on four verticals – UX/UI Design, data science, product management, and software development.
Founded in 2018, at first more as a personal project for Muniz and less as a venture, in 2019 the startup turned into a “real deal”, and since then it has grown from annual revenue of BRL 200,000 to BRL 7.2 million in 2021. With a user base of 3,000 students and more than 400 mentors and teachers, Awari expects to grow nearly 500% by 2022, reaching annual revenue of BRL 40 million and training about 9,000 students by the end of the year.
In order to do so, the startup has just raised a pre-Series A funding of BRL 3.5 million to expand its business model. The round was led by investors from the education area, including Mathur Shashank, director of Harvard Management Company, Mike Mahlkow, founder at Blair/Lambda School and Ben Hamner, CEO of Kaggle, as well as other names such as Brian Requarth, of VivaReal and Miguel-Burguer-Calderon, founder of American Ethyca.
Muniz credits the speedy growth of edtech in the last two years to the synergy between Awari’s model and changes brought about by the pandemic.
“There was a big mindset change among those who consume education in Brazil. Before, there was a negative perception about Distance Learning. The pandemic changed this. Besides this, the pandemic also triggered a movement of professional re-signification, many people wanting to make career changes or looking for better opportunities. This, plus the growth of the technology market, which has been drawing a huge influx of professionals, including those from other areas, has led to a very favorable scenario for growth,” he explained.
Awari’s target audience are professionals who already have some previous experience, but wish to either develop new skills or move from one area to another. To meet this audience, the startup offers two products: live online courses and individual career mentoring. According to the edtech business model, instead of paying for a course or mentoring, the student subscribes to a fixed-price annual plan (BRL 2,900) and gets a number of credits, which can be used to access the startup‘s entire portfolio according to the student’s preference.
Awari also works in partnership with companies to offer scholarships or to make the startup‘s platform available as a corporate benefit, in which case the company acquires a subscription package and makes the access available to its teams. In addition, some companies access Awari’s talent pool in search of candidates for technology positions.
Most of the funding round will be used to expand the offering of courses and mentoring, including training in cybersecurity, cloud computing, UX writing, 3D design, among others. Courses such as English and soft skills are also on the radar. “Eventually we will expand beyond the technology area. What we do is think about how modern professionals can develop themselves. In the future, we may have a program for journalists, a program for geologists, and so on,” explained Muniz.
In addition, the startup is working on an app through which students will be able to attend classes, schedule mentoring sessions, and access learning materials and articles, and is evaluating an international expansion, starting with Chile, Colombia, and Mexico.