HT Media backs Canadian ed-tech startup betterU
Photo Credit: Abhijit Tambe/VCCircle

Indian media firm HT Media Ltd has agreed to invest up to CAD$10 million (Rs 51 crore) in Canada-based education firm betterU, the company announced in a stock-exchange filing.

betterU is yet to receive regulatory approval from Canada’s TSX Venture Exchange (TSXV), which is the public venture capital marketplace for emerging companies, for the deal, the filing stated. It is expected to get approval by 1 March 2018.

The investment will be made in eight quarterly tranches over a period of two years. In the initial investment tranche, betterU will receive CAD$1.25 million, while HT Media will get 3,205,128 common shares in exchange at CAD$0.39 per share, which is subject to approval by TSXV.

Incorporated as betterU Education Corporation, the ed-tech startup aggregates courses for K-12, skills development, higher education and self-interest. It also provides courses for professional development. betterU has tied up with education providers, such as BSE Varsity, Udemy, EdX, and Merit Nation, to name a few, and offers their courses to customers in developing countries like India and China. The startup claims that it has a course inventory of 1,000 programmes and has collaborated with 10,000 vendors for content aimed at skill development, education and employment.

Headquartered in Ottawa, Canada, the ed-tech firm also has offices in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore.

“betterU’s global education partnerships have been growing significantly over the last year and this media deal will help reach many new learners across the country. Visibility across India is critical to our success in generating credibility and learner acquisition,” said Brad Loiselle, president and chief executive of the venture, in the statement.

HT Media competes with Bennett, Coleman and Company Ltd (BCCL), which is better known as the Times Group. While BCCL generates most of its revenue from advertisements, its ad-for-equity arm Brand Capital drives a significant part of that revenue for the deal-making unit. Another BCCL unit that makes investments is Times Internet Ltd, which acquires stakes in tech firms in media and entertainment.

An analysis by VCCircle showed that BCCL, along with Brand Capital and Times Internet, struck 301 deals between January 2015 and November 2017, making the unit one of the most prolific PE-VC investors.

In December last year, VCCircle had reported that Delhi-based First Time Travellers Ltd, which operates luxury hotel aggregation startup icanstay.com, signed an ad-for-equity deal worth Rs 12 crore ($1.8 million) with HT Media Ltd.

HT Media, which is primarily engaged in the publishing business, is an active investor in the e-commerce sector.

In December 2016, VCCircle reported that the ad-for-equity arm sold 10% of its investment in London-based fashion portal Koovs Plc and made a quick partial exit by taking advantage of the surge in the share price.

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