Pearson invests in two education startups in India

A company operating low-income pre-schools, and a team who design next generation science learning aids have scooped a share of $150K investment. Experifun and Sudiksha Knowledge Solutions beat off competition from hundreds of education startups in India to take home seed funding in the inaugural ‘Edupreneurs’ programme, a partnership of Pearson and Village Capital.

Led by a team of alumni from the Indian Institutes of Technology and the Indian Institute of Management (Ahmedabad), Experifun helps science teachers bring their subject to life by providing them with kits and activities to conduct classroom experiments. Designed in its R&D lab in Bangalore, Experifun products are patentable, affordable and suited to both urban and rural schools.

Sudiksha operates pre-schools in underprivileged urban neighbourhoods, where there is often a shortfall of education provision. It does that through an innovative model that recruits local women to run branches under an incentivised profit sharing scheme, thus developing the skills of female adults alongside children.

The winners were selected not by an expert committee or a judging panel, but by a group of much tougher critics and stronger supporters - their peer group of 14 education-focused startups who made it to the final round of competition. All 14 fledging firms have spent the last few months with Pearson and Village Capital in a series of workshops and peer review sessions all around India, designed to ready them for investment, and ignite the pipeline of next generation education businesses. Culminating with a presentation by each finalist to an audience of potential investors, it was clear to see that pipeline is in good health.

Announcing the winners, Pearson’s executive director of the Affordable Learning Fund, Katelyn Donnelly, commented:

“These inspiring entrepreneurs are excellent examples of the innovations desperately needed to improve access to, and quality of, education for low-income learners around the world.  Both Experifun and Sudiksha have established strong traction with customers and shown early promise to transform learning outcomes and scale quickly.

Edupreneurs India is just the beginning of Pearson’s engagement in low cost education. Not only are we directly funding startups, but we’re also connecting a wide range of investors with opportunities, and making introductions to appropriate Pearson business teams – ours is an ecosystem approach.”

Ross Baird, executive director of partners Village Capital, added:

“We’re incredibly proud of the hard-working teams in the 2013 India cohort. We’ve been excited to bring together the future leaders of the affordable education sector in India, and if these ventures are any guide, we’re optimistic about the future of affordable learning due to education in India. We’re thrilled to welcome Experifun and Sudiksha to our portfolio, and to welcome the entire cohort into our alumni network of over 350 impact-oriented enterprises worldwide.”

Contact

For comment and more information about Edupreneurs, or the wider work of the Pearson Affordable Learning Fund, please contact Ember Melcher at ember.melcher@pearson.com.

About the partners

Pearson Affordable Learning Fund

The Pearson Affordable Learning Fund (PALF) makes minority equity investments in for-profit companies to meet a burgeoning demand for affordable education services in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The fund was launched in July 2012 with $15 million of initial Pearson capital. The purpose of the fund is to improve access to quality education for the poorest families in the world. PALF invests in private companies committed to innovative approaches and improving learning outcomes.  See more at: http://www.affordable-learning.com

Village Capital

Village Capital has served over 350 ventures worldwide, building disruptive innovations in energy, environmental sustainability, agriculture, health, and education. Village Capital has launched 22 programs in 7 countries to-date and made 30 peer-selected investments. Participant enterprises have raised more than $40 million in follow on funding to date, creating 5,000 jobs and serving 4 million customers worldwide. For more information see www.vilcap.com.