A message for the EdTech Unicorn Graduates
First and foremost, we would like to congratulate our most recent EdTech Unicorns’ graduates: Coursera and Zhangmen. Coursera left our list of Unicorns after raising nearly $520 million via IPO, at an implied $4.3 billion valuation and closing the day up 36%, giving Coursera a market cap of $5.9 billion at the end of its first day of trading. Zhangmen did the same in June 2021 via IPO, raising nearly $42 million with a $2B market cap.
Presenting the Incoming members of the EdTech Unicorn club
Moving on with our agenda, we would like to welcome aboard the new Unicorns. Three new countries are represented in this incoming cohort: Australia, Austria and Israel. More than that, we welcome our first European EdTech Unicorn. While some of these companies are reinventing learning in fields marked by their great predecessors, others are creating new fields for learning innovation. You can learn more about these fields in the first edition of our blog series. Without further ado, let’s meet the new members of the club:
- Yunxuetang – China – Learning Management System (LMS)
- Degreed – United States – Learning Management System (LMS)
- Handshake – United States – Education Matchmaking
- JoyTunes – Israel – STEAM.
- Go1 – Australia – Learning Management System (LMS)
- GoStudent – Austria – Tutoring
- Articulate – United States -Learning Management System (LMS)
Special mention to one of our newcomers, Articulate, that raised a monstrous Series A funding round, receiving around $1.5B
EdTech Unicorn’s formula for success: New overall characteristics of all EdTech Unicorns
The introduction of the companies mentioned above confirms specific patterns that were slightly visible before; however, these newcomers shed light on the importance of these characteristics.
- Learning is mobile: Capturing the ever-growing mobile-user market. Part of becoming Unicorns has been taking advantage of the growing opportunities within the EdTech sector. The number of mobile users across the world is surpassing the 3.5B+ mark and these companies have seized the opportunity by making heavy investments in developing solutions that can be accessible on mobiles through personalized apps.
- Much like learning: products/offerings are not one-size-fits-all. To cater to the specific needs of different client segments within their target sector, these companies have modified their original offering to create slightly different solutions from their original product. For most companies, their initial offering has been adjusted, to be sold as new products based on the clients’ industry, end-users’ age and the client size (number of end-users).
- Teamwork makes the dream work: Content Creation Partners show that it’s all about division of labor. These companies have found success in creating content to offer their clients by partnering with content creators, usually recognized entities with vast experience in a content area. Through partnerships, they can focus on aspects of their offering and have content created by so-deemed authorities in diverse subjects.
New Edtech Unicorns and new EdTech Clusters
In part one of our blog posts series, we identified 8 Unicorn clusters. However, the introduction of new EdTech unicorns brings to life new clusters within the EdTech Industry. Yunxuetang, Degreed, Go1 and Articulate all belong to the Learning Management System (LMS) cluster and JoyTunes is the only proud member of its own cluster, STEAM. Only HandShake and GoStudent fit into our original clusters.
HandShake joins the club of the Education Matchmaking cluster, also referred to as Tinder for educational opportunities. GoStudent, on the other hand, fits within the cluster of Unicorns that offer tutoring services. However, GoStudent is unique in its own way, not only because they are the first European EdTech unicorn, but they also expand a cluster mostly dominated by Chinese companies. GoStudent, in contrast to most of the Tutoring companies in the cluster, is currently expanding towards larger markets and languages. In 2020 they opened their first out-of-home-country office in Lyon. After securing their Series B funding round in March 2021, they have opened offices in Dusseldorf, Berlin, Madrid, London, Milan, Athens, Istanbul, Amsterdam, Moscow, and Sofia – money moves.
Learning Management Systems (LMS)
Yunxuetang, Degreed, Go1, Articulate offer software solutions that enable users to create, store, manage and deliver educational content for their learners. In short, they offer a Learning Management System (LMS). All these companies do not offer the same features on their platforms, but they all target the corporate learning sector.
Training programs within companies have been changing drastically over the last few years with increasing access to the internet and companies growing to have offices/consultants in different locations of the world. Traditionally, training programs would be held in-person with/for a large number of new employees, or in a specific location to upskill a specific group of outstanding employees. However, with the pandemic and the rise of remote-working, having an LMS has become a must-have for every company. An LMS comes as the perfect solution for the corporate sector. It makes onboarding and employee training more efficient, reduces costs, delivers important content instantly, and increases accessibility. More than that, LMS are cost-saving solutions as it centralizes and optimizes training experiences, bringing consistency and allowing the company to track ROI, knowledge gains and performances effectively.
These softwares offer white-label solutions in which companies can host their training programs in a private environment and, in some cases, leverage already made content by the company for their training programs. These companies make digital learning accessible, dynamic and effective, also giving us great insights:
- Data is key. LMSs, more than just hosting training processes, can offer key insights on the learning process performance, ROI, and learning achievements.
- Digital Learning must be a 360 experience to be compelling. To effectively convey training programs, these softwares must be a complete solution covering all aspects of training, from content creation, communication, exercises to gamification to motivate employees.
- On-demand content completes the offering. Most of the Unicorns mentioned in this cluster offer their LMS software as their solution; however, what makes them Unicorns is that they also provide content available for their clients to use within their training programs. Some of them even offer complete training programs already made for clients to purchase.
- Artificial Intelligence makes training even more accessible. These companies invest heavily in Artificial Intelligence to help companies create effortless experiences for their employees and offer insights to effectively implement their ideas using their software. Training processes can be tedious and complicated; AI aims to make them dynamic and easier for both trainers and trainees.
STEAM – JoyTunes – Putting the “A” in STEAM.
JoyTunes was left on its own for a good reason, it represents a new cluster on its own: teaching arts digitally. The Israel-based company has a wide variety of mobile apps that aim to make learning music simple and accessible for everyone. What is remarkable about this company is that they only focus on creating easy-to-use and visually attractive mobile apps and have found success through a freemium model with a gamification-based approach. From this company and this cluster, it is key to highlight their use of AI and sound recognition technology to make the apps as intelligent and adaptive as possible to the learner’s progress. Finally, JoyTunes has found incredible success in diversifying its offering, moving from offering a single app with Piano lessons, to creating multiple apps, focusing on an instrument, and creating mini-apps that accommodate children’s learning processes.
Thanks for joining us in this ceremony. All in all, we can all agree the EdTech industry does not cease to surprise us, and it definitely does not cease to grow. But keep your eyes open; EdTech unicorns are now more common than ever, and do not be surprised if more keep appearing.