Rural education services firm Hippocampus raises $600K from Unitus Seed Fund and existing investors

Bangalore-based Hippocampus Learning Centres Pvt Ltd, which offers education services to rural children, has secured $600,000 (Rs 3.7 crore) from Unitus Seed Fund besides existing investors Acumen Fund and Lok Capital. The funding will be used to expand its network.

The firm raised $1.5 million in May 2012 from Lok Capital, a venture capital firm focused on bottom-of-the-pyramid (BoP) market and social venture capital investor Acumen.

"With this new capital, we will be able to push forward with our expansion plans for the 2014-15 academic year and continue to invest in preparation for further scaling up,” said Malhotra, founder and CEO, Hippocampus.

Hippocampus was founded in 2011 by Malhotra, who holds a B Tech degree in Metallurgy from IIT Madras. Prior to setting up the education venture, Malhotra founded Bangalore Labs, which worked in the remote infrastructure management space. Earlier, he was business manager at Infosys.

The idea behind Hippocampus was to create a fun place with books and activities that kept children coming back for more. The company currently offers over 15,000 titles, covering 48 subjects and seven languages from around the world, with an aim to create reading habit among rural children. The titles include classics, hobby books, general knowledge, fiction, folktales, adventure, fairy tales, and graphic novels.

The company currently operates 104 rural learning centres across Karnataka, with a student base of about 3,000. It is now planning to scale the number to 1,000 centres within the next five years.

"We are excited about how the Hippocampus team has built a low-cost delivery model which can be profitable at a tuition fee of approximately Rs 250 per month. Hippocampus is part of an emerging movement in India to bring high-value, affordable services to the masses," said Dave Richards, managing partner, Unitus Seed Fund.

(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)

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