SplashLearn raises $18 million for its game-based edtech platform

SplashLearn, a 10-year-old U.S.-headquartered edtech startup that teaches children through a game-based curriculum, has raised $18 million in a new financing round as it looks to expand to more markets.

San Francisco-based Owl Ventures led the Series C funding round in SplashLearn, and Accel, which had earlier invested $7 million in the startup’s Series B, also participated in the new round.

In an interview with TechCrunch, SplashLearn co-founder and chief executive Arpit Jain said one of the biggest hurdles the education system faces today is that kids do not wish to learn, so you have to broach the subject in a way they find engaging.

His startup offers math and reading courses to students in pre-kindergarten to grade five. It has developed, with guidance from teachers and other experts, over 4,000 games and other interactive activities to explain various concepts to the children.

In a demo, Jain showed an adventure game that was riddled with hurdles. A kid needed to visually apply the concept of addition to progress forward in the game. “When the kids are engaged, there is improvement in their learning outcome,” said Jain.

SplashLearn’s platform additionally provides 15 to 20 minutes of personalized learning experience to each student every day, he said.

The startup charges $12 a month to parents for its service. Alternatively, the service is free for schools. Currently, one in every three schools in the United States uses SplashLearn, Jain said.

“One of our goals has been to make quality education available to students for free. Our business model has enabled us to work on this,” he said. SplashLearn doesn’t reach out to schools, he said. Teachers use our platform, and if they like the offering, they make the case for wider adoption at the school, said Jain, who like the other three co-founders, is an alumni of IIT Kharagpur.

Image: SplashLearn

The team first created an edtech platform that was similar to what Coursera has evolved into over the past decade. But their previous venture failed to gain traction as the Indian market, which had fewer than 50 million internet users then, wasn’t ready for it, said Jain.

SplashLearn today caters to more than 40 million registered students on its platform, 10 million of whom joined last year as the coronavirus shut schools worldwide. More than 750,000 teachers have also joined the platform.

The startup is currently largely serving students in the United States, which accounts for 80% of its revenue. But students from over 150 other markets, including the U.K., Australia, Canada and India use the platform today.

“SplashLearn is well poised to bring about a distinct change in the digital learning space with its unique blend of scientifically designed curriculum and its pedagogical methods with global appeal. SplashLearn fits into our objective of supporting innovative companies in the edtech space, helping drive a paradigm shift in the way education is imparted, bringing it to scale,” said Amit A. Patel, managing director, Owl Ventures, in a statement. Patel is joining SplashLearn’s board along with Abhinav Chaturvedi, a partner at Accel.

Last year, SplashLearn also started a tutoring service for kids, where teachers teach a group of three to five students. This service costs $10 to $25 an hour. “Even at this cost, we are offering the service at a fraction of what it would cost students in a private tuition,” he said.

The tutoring service is currently available in the U.S., and Jain said the startup plans to grow it within the country this year.