Edu-tech startup Springboard raises $1.7M in seed funding

Bangalore- and US-based edu-tech startup Springboard (formerly known as SlideRule) has raised $1.7 million (Rs 11.3 crore) in a seed round of funding from a clutch of investors.

The investors who participated in the round included Allen Blue, co-founder of LinkedIn; John Katzman, founder of The Princeton Review; Naveen Tewari, founder and CEO of InMobi; Kartik Hosanagar, The Wharton School professor; Kashyap Deorah, co-founder of Chalo which was acquired by OpenTable; 500 Startups and Blue Fog Capital. 

Launched in 2013 by Parul Gupta and Gautam Tambay, Springboard offers online courses in data science and UX design. The company claims that over 1,000 students undertook its paid courses in a year while several thousands are undertaking free courses. The paid courses cost $300-500 a month. In these courses, each student gets access to a mentor, as well as a community of fellow students and alumni every week. Some mentors are from Facebook, Uber, Airbnb, Etsy, LinkedIn and Pandora.

The two-year-old bootstrapped startup has grown its network of mentors to over 110 data science and UX design professionals over the past 12 months. Springboard alumni have been recruited by IBM and Boeing, among others.

“The company will use the funds to increase its capacity in courses, provide additional student services and support and enhance growth,” Parul Gupta, co-founder of Springboard, told VCCircle. It will also launch five-seven additional courses in six months.

"Currently our focus is on technology courses, but we are looking at expanding our courses to other fields. We aim to come up with courses in programming, DevOps, Web and app development, and will also look at soft-skills and marketing courses," Gupta said. 

"We expect our paid student base to grow from 1,000 to 40,000-60,000 in two years," she said.

The company, currently at $1.5 million in annualised revenue run rate, expects to achieve a 10-fold growth at $10 million annual revenue run rate next year. 

Springboard is also hopeful of raising its Series A round in three months. "We are seeing lot of interest among investors and expect to raise our Series A early next year," Gupta said.

A recent survey by LoudCloud Systems, an e-learning research and development firm, estimated the online learning market size in India to grow to $40 billion by 2017 from $20 billion currently. According to VCCEdge, the data research platform of VCCircle, investors have pumped in $94 million in 20 early-stage deals in this segment so far this financial year. 

While most edu-tech investments are in online education, there have also been a few seed-stage investments in companies. Last month, Evobi Automations Pvt Ltd received $530,000 in angel investment; kids learning solution startup Smartivity received $200,000 from education services group S Chand; Eazy Coach raised an undisclosed amount in angel funding; and US-based Coursera Inc secured $49.5 million in the first closing of Series C funding from New Enterprise Associates (NEA) and Times Internet; and Hyderabad-based Jay Robotix, had raised $250,000.

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