This edtech start-up defies the funding crunch

“We first went to industry investors, other edtech, and then to get a larger share of the funding, we went to venture capitalists,” he said.

“The process was probably one of the most stressful experiences I’ve ever had. We were dealing with stakeholders with different ideas and interpretations of how things work, or how they should be done… and we had vehemently strong opinions.

“I never realized that contracts could be interpreted so differently, even by lawyers with the same specialties. There was a lot of back and forth about how to express things and if things had different meanings, because we went to the edtechs first and not the specialist investors.”

Learned lessons

While the augmentation was done, Philp said his advice to other founders would be to keep the augmentation process as simple as possible.

Before founding the startup, Mr. Philp had been working as an IT consultant for schools and said he was constantly running into the same problem, where schools struggled to integrate their systems.

His business partner, Mr. Turci, was a data consultant at ANZ Bank, a position he held until April this year, when he also worked full-time at Intellischool.

After a “soft launch” of the product in late 2020, the business went from no revenue to $250,000 in just four months.

The key to its quick success, Philp said, was making deals with other edtech software providers, rather than directly with schools.

This, Philp said, had allowed the company to rapidly scale and grow to have 300 schools using its software.

“I knew that if teachers needed to learn to use another system, it was likely to fail. I wanted it to be integrated into what they were already doing every day,” he said.

“We started with a small partner doing Victorian schools, then added one of our investors, Schoolbox, and just signed a new learning management system in the US that has 75,000 schools around the world.

“If we hadn’t taken this path to market, we wouldn’t have been able to scale at the rate we have.”

The company declined to disclose its valuation of the financing round.

The capital raised is expected to give him a hint of 18 months to two years, but the founder said he can choose to raise sooner.

“We have so many opportunities right now that I wouldn’t want to let them pass us by. But at the same time, I’m very conscious of making sure that investors do the right thing and that we don’t risk too much,” Philp said.

The company wants to double its revenue in the next six to 12 months.

“Edtech is a market that I thought was a bit undervalued by the capital market, but now it’s seen as a safer market. [investment] way because schools will always exist. They may have changes in their internal budgets, but they usually provide a fairly constant stream of income.”

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