Investment in education technology is soaring–from learning apps to educational games and classroom management tools to programs promoting STEM education.
According to market research firm Ambient Insight, global private investments in ed tech companies reached $6.54 billion in 2015, up dramatically from the previous record of $2.42 billion in 2014. Investment in ed tech companies is expected to rise again in 2016. As K-12 schools and colleges continue to investment in more technology to build the Smart Schools of the future, it’s important that ed tech decision-makers–both on the tech and administrative sides–know who key investors are.
Here’s a breakdown on some of the top ed tech investment groups.
- New Schools Venture Fund–New Schools Venture Fund is a little different from most investors on this list. It’s a nonprofit venture philanthropy firm that uses charitable donations to support education entrepreneurs who are transforming public education. Since its founding in 1998, New Schools Venture Fund has invested $250 million in more than 150 education ventures. Key investments include: BirdBrain Science, an adaptive science platform; Flocabulary, a producer of hip-hop videos, activities, and assessments used to engage students and supplement instruction; and LearnZillion, an open, cloud-based curriculum.
- 500 Startups–Like its name suggests, 500 Startups is focused on investing in early-stage companies. Unlike New Schools Venture Fund, 500 Startups invests in almost every industry, but is heavily invested in the education field. 500 Startups does traditional investing, as well as a four-month accelerator program, which includes mentorship, office space, and capital, in exchange for 5 percent equity in the company. Key investments include: Junior Explorers, a subscription service that teaches kids about wildlife and nature in a fun and engaging way, and Monkimun, a game designed to help preschoolers develop language skills.
- Learn Capital–Learn Capital is a venture capital firm focused on funding entrepreneurs with a vision for better and smarter learning. Key investments include: MasteryConnect, a platform to connect Common Core assessments of student progress with classroom practice; LearnZillion; ClassDojo, real-time classroom behavior management tools; eduClipper, a content sharing and curation service designed specifically for K-12 students and teachers; and NoRedInk, a teacher-created writing app.
- Kapor Capital–Kapor Capital invests across a wide variety of industries, but focuses on investing in tech-driven seed stage companies committed to closing gaps of access, opportunity or outcome for low-income communities, and/or communities of color in the United States. Key investments include: CodeHS, a program to teach computer science to beginners with a focus on working with high schools; Classkick, a tablet workspace where students do teacher-made assignments and get immediate help from their instructor and classmates; ClassDojo; NoRedInk; and Inkling, an end-to-end platform for mobile learning content.
- RethinkEducation–RethinkEducation invests exclusively in education-related companies. It seeks to invest in progressive growth-stage companies that are at the forefront of the education technology industry. Key investments include: Flocabulary; StraighterLine, which offers affordable, self-paced introductory-level college courses through a Web-based delivery platform; Rethink, which offers teaching tools to teachers, parents, and administrators handling children on the autism spectrum; and NoRedInk.
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