Mumbai: Ahmedabad-based learning assessment company, Educational Initiatives Pvt. Ltd, has received an undisclosed amount of first round funding from Bangalore-based Footprint Ventures, Chennai-based IFMR Trust and Maryland, US-headquartered Novak Biddle Venture Partners. Ballarpur Industries Ltd chairman Gautam Thapar has also invested in this company in his personal capacity.
“We found it interesting that the company offers pen-and-paper assessment exams, which can reach out to a huge market and cut across all socio-economic sectors,” says Josh Bornstein, executive director, Footprint Ventures, who will take a board seat with the company. He did not reveal the amount invested, but said it was an early-stage deal. The firm typically invests $1-5 million (Rs4-20 crore) in a company.
For investor Novak Biddle, this is the first direct investment in India. It has previously invested in education-centric US-based companies such as Spectrum K12 School Solutions Inc. and Intelliworks Inc.
Reaching out: Footprint Ventures executive director Josh Bornstein.
The IFMR Trust invests in commercial opportunities to leverage the competitive strengths of low-income households in India with an emphasis on those that are living in remote rural locations of the country.
It plans to implement this through a dedicated fund—a Rs600 crore IFMR Trust’s Network Enterprises Fund that invests in multiple sectors, including a national rural financial services channel.
Education is emerging as a key investment sector for venture capitalists in the country. In the last six months, several companies in this space, such as Bangalore-based TutorVista Education India Pvt. Ltd, Mumbai-based Hurix Systems Pvt. Ltd and 24x7 Learning Solutions Pvt. Ltd, have together received funding of more than $12 million.
Educational Initiatives, the latest addition to this list, was founded by a group of alumni from Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad, who had earlier started the Ekalavya Education Foundation in Ahmedabad.
The six-year-old company offers students assessment exams to judge their learning skills rather than rote knowledge of the subscribed syllabus, such as logical reasoning and ability to think independently. “We want to help private and public schools understand student learning better, in a non-threatening and objective way,” says Sridhar Rajagopalan, managing director, Educational Initiatives.
It targets students between classes III and X through partnerships with schools. It has tied up with 1,300 English-medium schools so far and aims to reach out to 3,000 by the year-end. It that will set up office in Delhi this year and plans to fund new products and expand its reach.
Footprint, which led the deal, had earlier invested in Travis Internet Pvt. Ltd, which runs online bus ticketing site Ticketvala.com, and co-invested with venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson in online digital photography company Canvera Digital Technologies Pvt. Ltd.