Bengaluru-based skill learning platform Kidovators has raised seed investment of $180,000 (Rs 1.2 crore) from impact investor Gray Matters Capital’s edLABS initiative. M Chandrasekaran, board member at Sylvant Advisors and former corporate advisor to the Manipal Group, also participated in the funding round.

The startup will use the funds to scale its programmes to over 100,000 students and 600 partner schools in 2018 and to strengthen its core content, technology and sales teams, a statement from Gray Matters Capital said.

Founded by Priyadeep Sinha, Kidovators offers a slew of online skill learning platforms through courses on creative thinking, critical thinking, complex problem solving and other competencies for students aged 8-15. The startup claims to have garnered over 10,000 student sign-ups since its launch at the beginning of this year.

“We are constantly working towards adding more challenges, courses and spotlight programmes around 21st-century competencies education along with ensuring to create a level-playing field by providing the highest quality of education to budget private schools and marquee schools in India and abroad,” Sinha said.

Run by ADD-on-GYAN Educational Services Pvt. Ltd, Kidovators was founded in 2011 and runs an educational services firm named GyanLab. It had earlier raised an angel funding from Luis Miranda, former chairman, IDFC PE and Chandrasekaran in 2015.

Smita Sircar, innovations director of edLABS and ecosystem at Gray Matters Capital, said it had invested a smaller amount earlier.

edLABS is Gray Matters Capital’s $8-million in-house education investment initiative for India. It plans to invest in education startups over the next two years (until 2020). It will invest in at least 12 companies a year with an average ticket size of $100,000. Gray Matters will open up quarterly application windows to achieve this ambitious investment target. The company has already invested $600,000 in four companies each when it did a pilot of the concept last year before setting up the budget.

“We realised we need to be really quick if we have to achieve this investment number. So, we have developed a system of evaluating and investing, which is very unconventional compared to other VC funds. After the initial screening and selection process from the application window, our first best due diligence would be the first tranche of money going into the startups’ account. From there, we will evaluate how they are doing, whether they are reaching the milestones, and we’ll then decide to do the second tranche or not to follow up,” Ragini Chaudhary, chief executive at impact investment firm, told VCCircle in an interaction in April this year.

Gray Matters will not pick an equity stake in companies for the edLABS programme but would explore revenue sharing, hybrid debt or any convertible equity models, depending on the entrepreneurs’ choice.

The company said that it plans to invest about $40 million (approximately Rs 264 crore) over the next two years (until 2020) in India’s education and employability sector through various initiatives.

Atlanta, US-based Gray Matters invests in companies that seek to cater to the underserved populations across developing countries. Its investments span across sectors such as microfinance, information technology, healthcare, energy and education. Over the last three to four years, it has turned its focus to educate the underserved children in developing countries, especially in India.

The company has allocated over $16 million to create new funds; $10 million for direct investments, $8 million for edLABS, and $2 million for its education-focused startup accelerator.

Apart from edLABS, Gray Matters also invests through the CBA Capital-managed Education Catalyst Fund, in which it is the anchor investor along with philanthropic organisation Michael and Susan Dell Foundation and others. It also has a minority investment in IAN Fund-I, the $70-million sector agnostic fund managed by the Indian Angel Network.

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