London-based Kodland, which began offering in-person courses for kids in 2018 to learn digital skills, such as computer programming, before refocusing on online learning from early 2020, has closed a $9 million Series A funding round to scale up in more markets.
The round will be led by Redseed Ventures, with the participation of Baring Vostok, Kismet, Flyer One Ventures and Alexander Nevinsky, a partner at I2BF in New York.
Kodland’s distance learning courses for ages 6-17 are currently available in the UK, Ireland, US, Canada, CIS region, Malaysia, Indonesia and Argentina – with the startup offering its own localized content for each target region (although users spread over about 40 countries). So far, about 16,000 children have been enrolled in the paid courses.
The new funding will be used to further expand the reach of the online courses.
The courses focus on group and project-based learning, teaching children digital skills including coding, website building, game creation, animation and video editing in a way that is structured to be more fun and interactive than traditional classes in the class. Although the online learning offered by Kodland’s platform is guided by educators rather than self-service.
Kodland says it has about 1,000 teachers on its platform (some are employed, some are gig workers, depending on the market); while the “typical” ratio is one teacher for every 15 students. It notes that the platform also offers one-on-one education.
The edtech startup says it’s focusing on extracurricular digital skills education for kids versus selling tools and resources to schools because it’s easier to scale globally — meaning it skips the complexities of K12 procurement.
And in a nod to the creative economy, it has launched its own “accelerator” – called Out of the Box – where it provides (extra) support to the most talented students to help them monetize their digital creations by into “real-life” products.
Kodland’s latest tranche of funding – bringing the total amount raised to $11 million – will be used for market expansion, with courses in an additional eight languages scheduled for the next two years. It also says to spend on product development.
“During 2022, we will expand further in English-speaking countries, in addition to the UK and Ireland, Spanish-speaking countries and several countries in Southeast Asia,” the startup tells Gadgets Price.
A smaller portion of the funding will be plowed into the accelerator program.
The Series A funding stems from what Kodland considers “significant traction” among students and “robust revenue growth” – noting that it grew its revenue in the third quarter of 2021 by 6.5x from the same period last year.
Edtech has generally had a booming pandemic, given all the extra screen time brought on by lockdowns and restrictions on in-person blending – not to mention the demand for support as work-at-home parents have sought tools to help their kids get paid work while trying to work.
That does mean that the competition is quite heated.
Financing giants like Softbank have plowed millions into space, and a group of edtech unicorns is also responsible for many mergers and acquisitions. A number of cohort-based learning platforms have also been successful in attracting recent investment – by similarly attempting to bridge the gap between edtech and the creative economy.
As far as kids are concerned, Roblox remains a giant in the category – leveraging social gaming to get kids interested in learning how to code and potentially monetize their creations.
Still, Kodland’s structure and focus — STEM skills for kids taught through teacher-led classes — could help it carve a niche in the growing sea of edtech plays.
Billing itself as an “international online digital skills school for kids and teens,” the marketing aims to pitch parents to the idea of high-quality educational screen time for their kids — four-class bundles (aka a “module”). sell for € 110 ; or a “complete” course of 32 lessons from €660.
Commenting on Series A, Eugene Belov, managing partner at Redseed, said: “Traditional educational institutions are struggling to keep up with the rapid pace of technological development in today’s world. This often leads to a mismatch between the supply (skills and capabilities of young graduates) and the demand for talent (the requirements of modern workplaces). [Co-founders] Alexander [Nosulich] and Oleg [Kheyfets], are working hard to fill this gap by equipping their students with skills that are often left out of classical school curricula, but which are becoming essential in today’s digital universe. And the unique results-oriented way their programs are structured makes them very appealing to modern kids. We are very excited to support Kodland on their journey.”
“There is now no monopoly in the educational segment, which means more and more players are entering the market to meet the growing demand for educational services,” added Vital Laptenok, general partner at Flyer One Ventures, in another supporting statement. “Those who understand the real needs of their customers will be able to become big players and set trends in the market. The Kodland team focuses on the practical knowledge and opportunities for children to learn relevant professions in an interactive way.”