Uoloan Indian edtech platform that partners with private K-12 schools to offer online learning programs to middle- and low-income families has raised $22.5 million in a funding round led by UAE-based VC Fund Winter Capital.
The vast majority of edtech startups operate in a business-to-consumer model and spend on advertising to reach the parents and guardians of the students.
Uolo says it cuts those costs by operating in a business-to-business-to-consumer model, partnering with private schools to let them offer online learning programs to their students and charging the fees as part of the school fees . The startup’s programs are also designed in conjunction with the partner schools’ curricula, making it easier for students to learn the same lessons.
The Gurugram-based startup develops and delivers customized learning programs in coding and speaking English. Students can access these programs on their parents’ smartphones.
“We are bringing edtech to the masses of India. And when we do that, the idea is to make it cheap enough, affordable enough for people to use on their kids,” Pallav Pandey, CEO of Uolo, said in an interview with londonbusinessblog.com.
He said the startup can offer its offerings to students at much more affordable prices.
Schools that join Uolo get an ERP platform called the Uolo School Platform for free. It works as a unified platform where schools can access fee management, report card management and attendance management on a single dashboard.
The ERP platform acts as a gateway for Uolo, as it allows the startup to create an ecosystem once schools start using it. This encourages parents or guardians to use the app to receive messages directly from schools – rather than using typical communication channels such as WhatsApp groups.
“What we’ve been able to do is get schools and students on one side of the platform, so now we need to let digital learning flow through us,” Pandey said.
Founded in September 2020 by Pandey and his brother Ankur, Uolo partners with more than 8,500 schools across India and currently reaches 3.7 million students.
The $22.5 million funding was raised through a Series A round with a mix of equity and debt, with participation from Uolo’s existing investors Blume Ventures and new Dubai-based Morphosis Venture Capital – in addition to Winter Capital. While the exact details of the equity and debt percentage involved were not disclosed, Pandey told londonbusinessblog.com that the debt element was in the form of optionally convertible bonds that would convert to equity over time.
The startup, which employs about 350 people, intends to use the investment to expand its reach to 50,000 schools across India over the next four years and to expand its learning programs to include courses on STEAM subjects in the coming months. For the latter part, it is looking to collaborate with education companies, but also with people and entities that develop high-quality content.
“The first wave of edtech companies in India has proven that consumers are interested in online education. However, they lacked cost-effective distribution. We believe there will be a new generation of edtech companies that will be able to set up organic, low-cost distribution, allowing students to study for $10 a year instead of $10 an hour. Our investment in Uolo is based on our confidence in this type of company,” said Anton Farlenkov, general manager of Winter Capital, in a prepared statement.