Corporate benefit platform for educational products Education Journey raised BRL 1.2 million in a pre-seed round. The Latitud Fund, Norte Capital, SaasHolic, and Brazilian investor and founder of 99 and Yellow, Ariel Lambrecht, participated in the funding. With the round, the early-stage startup reaches a valuation of $5 million.
The fundraising was oversubscribed, since the startup was targeting a small round so as not to dilute the company’s equity. “I believe the high demand confirms how the edtechs market is heated both in Brazil and worldwide,” said educator Iona Szkurnik, founder and CEO of Education Journey.
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“Our round happened organically by funds that are specialized in pre-seed, i.e. those that bet on the team, on the idea, and understand what the first paychecks are. We had in mind a value tied to a percentage that would leave us comfortable until the Seed round, and we went beyond our goal because we understand that such partners are strategic. In this case, we made an exception and went above our investment target – and we are very happy to have them together-, to be building something important and solving a big, serious, impactful problem,” Szkurnik said.
“Our round was guided by selecting investors with experience in the market and the industry, who could add their experience, networks, and talent to support the growth of the company, something that is super important in the development of an early-stage startup.”
Proceeds will go towards technology, product development, and hiring developers. The startup wants to double the number of employees to 20 by the end of the year and reach 50,000 users in the next 12 months.
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“The team is made up of Brazilians passionate about innovation and education who came together for the same purpose. We count on new talents and professionals who have passed through the best universities in the world, large companies, schools, and Brazilian unicorns,” said Szurnik. The team is 100% remote, spread all over Brazil and the world.
Iona Szkurnik has lived for eight years in Menlo Park, California. Last year, with COO Marcela Quintela, she co-founded Education Journey in Silicon Valley, but the duo chose to start operations in Brazil.
“Here in Silicon Valley, I witnessed the transformative potential of disruption in different industries. But, it was amid the pandemic that I saw the opportunity to build a platform with countless possibilities for learning. A platform that focuses innovation and education, so that more people move forward in their life journey,” she said.
“Both because of my story, my partners and the team and our mission to give back and contribute to Brazil and strategically, we decided to launch our product first hand in Brazil.”
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Education Journey is a marketplace that mediates between edtechs, which offer the courses, with companies that offer education as a flexible benefit for their employees. “We are working very closely with companies to suggest learning tracks that best suit their needs and with courses that meet exactly what they need,” said the CEO.
Courses range from how to learn programming from scratch, design thinking, growth hacking, environmental impact assessment to agile self-management.
Education Journey’s business model is B2B2C, in the flexible corporate benefit format, meaning the company offers a platform for companies to subsidize employee education through a subscription.
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“It is an option for the company whether it wants to pay in full or not. We propose that companies subsidize part of the payment to make our platform available to employees and they, in turn, pay a co-participation to subscribe to the plan that best fits their needs and desires,” the exec explained.
The system is integrated with partner edtechs through APIs (Application Programming Interface), allowing the companies’ employees to access courses for improvement and requalification and Education Journey remunerates these edtechs through a transfer of the courses accessed.
Recently, the company joined the Latitud Fellowship, a program of entrepreneurship created by Brian Requarth, founder of Viva Real, which brings entrepreneurs from all over Latin America and from diverse market segments. Latitud admissions for its 4th fellowship cohort are open, which will be offered for free to women in Latin America.
The more edtechs, the better
For Education Journey, edtechs are not competitors, but content partners. The company also targets exponentially growing startups and multinationals established in a digital transformation journey, “which are those who buy our platform for their employees as a flexible benefit”, explains Szkurnik. The executive does not disclose which 16 edtechs and two companies she already has as clients.
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“There has never been more opportunity to transform education than now. The already imminent disruption was accelerated by the pandemic, which forced users to adopt new technologies and teaching and learning methodologies,” she points out.
Education Journey’s breakthrough was partnerships with edtechs, “which struggle to get their tools to the end-user, often facing a high cost to find new customers,” according to the CEO.
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Education Journey curates available solutions from edtechs to bundle them into packages that companies can offer as a flexible corporate benefit to their employees, and in the future, their families. “We attack all sides of that problem. So this contested scenario and the entry of new edtechs comes to strengthen and further reinforce the need for our solution.”
After Brazil, the executives plan to expand to Latin America and the world.