In January 2021, AfroTech reported that uLesson — an African edtech startup — announced it raised a $7.5 million Series A funding round for its online learning platform to make remote learning a breeze. Now, less than a year later, it has announced that it’s raised $15 million in a Series B funding round, according to TechCrunch.
Five investors led their latest round — Tencent, Nielsen Ventures, and existing investors Owl Ventures, TLcom Capital, and Founder Collective — in what is said to be the largest known investment for an edtech startup in Africa.
The Edtech Platform Launched In A Timely Manner
The education platform was launched during the pandemic. As one could imagine, this could be very promising as many students were transitioning to working remotely.
Created by Sim Shagaya in 2019, uLesson provides K-12 students with high-quality and interactive learning experiences through informative tools such as a product pack of SD cards and dongles with pre-recorded videos. Students also have the option to stream the lessons.
Since its launch, the company has introduced additional features such as quizzes and a help feature to assist students with their assignments by connecting them with tutors from universities, TechCrunch reports.
Now, students can enjoy a one-to-many live class feature with polls and leaderboards for a personalized experience with DevKids, a coding class existing separately from the uLesson platform.
Although the company has scaled back from DevKids, they are working to bring the feature back by January 2022 as it has not only been beneficial to introduce coding to children but it also contributed to 30 percent of the companies revenue.
“What we want ultimately is different strata of free users that can use the app and can pay for a premium experience to attend live classes or get the homework helper,” said CEO Shagaya, according to TechCrunch.
“And because parents do want to invest in the best for their kids, one of the ways you can do that is personalized one-to-one instruction for their children, whether in coding through DevKids or math or science or English.”
Students Are Getting Smarter
Currently, students seem to be super active, with learners reportedly spending an average of 57 minutes on the platform. In addition, there have been over 2 million downloads, 12.3 million videos watched, and 25.6 million questions answered, the company said, according to TechCrunch. It’s no wonder parents are deciding to pour money into smartphones to encourage their child’s pursuits autonomously or through uLesson’s “device+plan” bundle available only in Nigeria.
Evidently, the platform is performing well citing an increase in paid users by 600 percent within the last year and its monthly average users have skyrocketed by 700 percent. Although the gleaming numbers attest to the application’s promise, its true verdict of success depends on student outcome. TechCrunch reports, students using the platform have upscaled from the 50th percentile to the 90th percentile in their courses.
The platform has become so successful that it is now a part of students’ daily activities, even as students return to school. Although the aim was to supplement primary school initially, it now charges schools and stakeholders to incorporate uLesson’s curriculum into the classroom.
“Schools have become a big channel for us, and half of our subscribers are using us in schools,” Shagaya said, according to TechCrunch. “We see all kinds of interesting applications for we build, and these are some of the leading schools in the country. So we’re not supplemental from that point of view.
“Our vision is to create these feedback loops between teacher and learner and parent and school that embraces virtuous cycles and feed themselves to the betterment of the educational system.”
How uLesson Will Use New Funding
As a new year approaches, uLesson will use their newly launched offline centers — designed originally to serve as a house for learning — and transition its service to educate the public on the platform and encourage attendees to sign up with the application.
As for how they plan to expand their platform in light of new funding, it will help spur product development, improve its base technology, and incorporate cohort-based learning features.
The company also hopes to further its science and mathematics content to include “social sciences and financial accounting to the secondary level content library and qualitative and quantitative reasoning to the primary level,” TechCrunch reports.