Softilne Venture Partners has announced an investment worth USD500,000 into Educate Online, an online platform for automating the processes of selection and admission to foreign boarding schools. Funds will be wired in several tranches. Allocation of each tranche will depend on achievement of the key performance indicators by the project team.
The number of Russian children enrolled in private schools of the UK rose by 77% from 2005 to 2017, according to the report by the international consulting company Knight Frank. The demand for secondary education in the USA as well grew significantly.
Currently there are a lot of traditional companies on the market which offer services related to organization of enrollment into boarding schools abroad, though no admission is guaranteed. Moreover, these companies may charge a commission worth USD5,000, and the choice of schools can be limited to 20-30 the companies are familiar with. It may take 10-60 days for parents to choose a school on their own: using reviews from their friends and colleagues, as well as messages posted in the respective forums.
The Educate Online platform allows the parents to avoid a number of difficulties in choosing the educational institution, to reduce the time frame for enrollment, and, importantly, to find a school which suits their child most. The Customers will be able to:
- receive personalized selection of schools and the optimal age to begin the studies abroad based on the test results (the level of English, knowledge of school subjects etc). The whole process takes a maximum of 5 minutes;
- receive confirmation of enrollment from the educational institution within 60 minutes, to find available dates for tests and interviews, as well as to view the video preparation materials;
- to download all documents necessary for visa application. Templates and samples are also available to the user on the platform. Educate Online guarantees that visa will be issued, if the Customer follows the instructions;
- to make instant payments – the respective payment methods will be integrated into the portal: PayPal, StudyPay, direct payment with a card;
On the Educate Online platform, each school will have its own profile and will be able to modify the prices, to upload images and videos, as well as to verify information. This platform will also display videos and pictures of students posted by them on Instagram, test results (Sunday Times ratings and others), reviews from parents and students. Each review and results of each passed exam will have an impact on the School ranking within the platform.
Educate Online will use the invested funds to develop the technological platform, to create new website and mobile application, as well as to expand its sales team. The goal of Educate Online team for the next two years is to ensure that the number of students, who choose and then enroll at educational institutions using the platform, rises up to 500. Educate Online is also aiming to increase the number of schools up to 400 (including schools in the USA, Canada and Europe) and to enter the Asian markets (including China and Hong Kong). At present the platform is mainly working with English schools.
The project founder is Alexander Zheltov, who has ten years’ experience in agency business in Russia, the UK and China. The team members of Educate Online are located in the US and the CIS, thus allowing the company to focus its attention on the advising markets.
“English education is a kind of quality standard. However, it’s not cheap to study at a foreign school, that’s why it’s required to think thoroughly about such an investment step”, said Elena Volotovskaya, Vice President for Investments at Softline and Head of Softilne Venture Partners. “The market needs a high-quality international platform, which would be a full-fledged catalogue of schools to allow the students and their parents not only to avoid any difficulties and overpayments while choosing the educational institution, but also to receive the guarantee of admission. We believe this segment has great potential for growth and we will take active role in development of Educate Online.”
“Softline Venture Partners has strongly supported us in product development, and this collaboration is very valuable for our startup at the moment”, the Educate Online projects’ founder Aleksandr Zheltov added, “the fund can also offer a unique opportunity to young companies to use the existing active sales channels of Softline, which is operating on the markets of the Eastern Europe, America and Asia. Our potential market is exactly in these countries and we see huge potential for scaling the business of Educate Online and for implementation of plans we have already outlined together with investors.”