Amy Jenkins left her post at Outschool, a marketplace for live online classes for kids, when the company decided to focus more on consumers and less on the enterprise — a shift that included numerous rounds of layoffs at the richly backed education unicorn.
Now, Jenkins is the COO of Meadow, a platform that aims to make it easier for college students to pay tuition and for universities to stay compliant with financial transparency requirements. Meadow recently announced that it raised $3.5 million in venture funding — a round that Jenkins said, to her surprise, came together pretty quickly over six weeks. Plus, the round was three times the size of the founding team’s original target.
Part of the startup’s win may have been in the framing of its vision beyond traditional edtech.
“I think a lot of our investors would look at us as an edtech company that is in the higher education space, and that there’s an incredible opportunity there to think about,” Jenkins said. “When students are entering college, they’re really at the beginning of their financial life. And we can support them and prepare them from the beginning.” The company’s early products help students better calculate the cost of attending college, balancing different factors like housing and financial aid.
Jenkins said that being a hybrid company, toeing the line between edtech and fintech, did help with closing investors. Many of Meadow’s investors cut checks in the fintech space, “but also consumer, and also social impact — so we were able to hit all of those themes for these investors in terms of high potential working in this fintech space but really having a consumer lens because we’re thinking so deeply about what students need.”
Meadow isn’t alone in balancing two sectors as a competitive advantage in fundraising: Once-crypto-specific companies are shifting their pitch to be more fintech-focused, and some health tech companies are leaning on well-known financial instruments as a disruptor. “Every company is a fintech company” is a common adage, but in today’s environment, the reasoning behind that shift may be more around survival and savviness than serendipity.