Quipper, an e-learning platform backed by the London-based VC firm, Atomico, that’s led by Skype co-founder Niklas Zennström, has closed a new tranche of funding. The $5.8 million Series A2 round takes Quipper’s total funding to just over $10 million to-date.
Participators in its Series A2 round include existing investors Atomico and Benesse, a major Japanese education publisher. Additional unnamed investors also joined in the round.
Quipper last raised back in 2012, when it took in a $3.6 million Series A, led by Japanese VC Globis. The startup was founded in December 2010 by Masayuki Watanabe, a co-founder of a social game giant DeNA.
Quipper’s main product — Quipper School — lets teachers and educators set and track assignments, answer students’ questions via IM, push out feedback and grading, and monitor individuals’ learning progress.
The free cloud software is cross-platform and cross-device, so students can access it on smartphone, tablets or PCs. While Quipper’s educational content (lectures and quizzes) is localized to regional curricula. To date its services have been used by more than 8.5 million learners, and it currently offers more than 7,000 educational courses.
Working with its education publisher backer Benesse, Quipper has also amassed large amounts of learning data which it uses to power “social learning”, “gamified learning”, and “adaptive learning” offerings for different user segments to improve retention and attainment level for those using its learning platform.
Quipper says its platform is similar to the not-for-profit Khan Academy — but reckons it has the edge, especially in Asian countries, thanks to large amounts of localised content it has developed by working with regional teachers. And also because of its focus on data-driven social/gamified/adaptive learning techniques.
Quipper said it plans to use the new financing to “aggressively expand” its market focus. Despite being a London-based startup, it has focused on Asian countries so far, including the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand.
It now plans to expand to more Asian nations and also Latin America. It also reckons there is potential for its e-learning approach in the U.K. market — where it would be rubbing up against the likes of Index-backed mobile education platform newbie Gojimo.
“Since we’re very happy about our initial KPIs in some select Asian countries, we’re going to expand to several more countries in the region in the next couple months,” Quipper told TechCrunch. “From the second half of this year, we’re planning on expanding to Latin American countries, and the rest of the world very aggressively using the fund raised. We’re now developing content for these regions by working with local teachers.”
Since Quipper’s learning platform is free to use, its business model will depend on premium additions which it plans to incorporate into the offering in future, such as one-on-one tutoring.
In the meanwhile it’s also working with Japanese mobile operator KDDI to provide a smartphone-based learning service to their subscribers — and it has a revenue share deal for that service.
A third revenue stream comes via Benesse, providing a tablet-based learning system for their subscribers.