Paris-headquartered Educapital is raising Europe’s largest edtech fund — €150m — amid a surge in investment in what was previously an under-capitalised sector in European tech.
Educapital has already raised €100m for the fund, its second. It’s aiming to close it later this year, according to founding partner Marie-Christine Levet — in time for kids to get back to school.
The firm will invest the fund in 20 European edtech startups from post-seed to Series B, with Series A as the main target. The average cheque size will be between €3m and €10m.
The pandemic “has really accelerated the digital transformation of the education and training sectors and shown the need for investment and innovation in this area,” says Levet. “We think it's really a good moment to invest.”
Europe has historically lagged behind other parts of the world like the US, China and India in terms of edtech investment. Until June 2020 when Oslo-based Kahoot! reached the billion-dollar valuation milestone, Europe had no private edtech unicorns. Kahoot! is now publicly listed.
That trend has now reversed, and the continent’s edtech founders have raised significant capital. Austrian edtech unicorn GoStudent most recently raised $340m led by Prosus, and Educapital portfolio company 360Learning raised $200m last year from Silver Lake, SoftBank and others.
Educapital is one of the rare funds in Europe led by female GPs. Levet’s background is in entrepreneurship while her cofounder Litzie Maarek previously worked in private equity. The firm says 40% of Educapital’s portfolio companies were also founded or cofounded by a woman.
Other European funds founded by and led by women include Pink Salt Ventures in the UK, Unconventional Ventures in the Nordics, January Ventures which invests in the US and Europe and Revaia in France.
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Future of education
Levet expects to see more edtech innovation in two areas: adaptive learning and virtual reality. “Adaptive learning” covers educational tools that use machine learning to adapt to users’ needs and offer them a personalised programme.
She thinks that virtual reality will be one key tool for school teachers to engage students more in the future. One Educapital portfolio company, Labster, is creating virtual labs for students and has raised $104m, according to Dealroom.
Levet says that any edtech founders that come through Educapital’s doors to pitch should focus on demonstrating three things clearly:
- Demonstrate the quality of your team. Levet says that sometimes the best innovators in the sector actually don’t have an education background. “When you have all the theory of the education sector, it sometimes prevents you from innovating,” she says.
- Demonstrate your unique selling position. “Often there are too many copycats and people doing the same thing as others,” she says.
- Demonstrate proof of success. Educapital is mostly targeting Series A companies, meaning it wants them to be able to show some traction. “If it’s B2B, it could be customers. Your customers are your best investors at the beginning. And if it’s B2C, it’s usage. You need to have traction,” Levet says.
Levet says that the fund’s investors include corporates such as French publisher Hachette, French banks and insurers, and family offices from across Europe, including the family that owns Decathlon and Switzerland’s Jacobs family.