Hyderabad: Education-focused technology start-up Byndr Inc., which counts three Indians as its co-founders, has raised $700,000 in seed funding from Ben Franklin Technology Partners and a group of angel investors.
The cloud-based, mobile-first start-up, incubated at the University of Pennsylvania’s Education Design Studio Inc., connects colleges and teachers with students. Education Design Studio, which runs a seed fund dedicated to education start-ups, also participated in the round.
Byndr will use this money to expand its sales and development teams and build on the product to give more access to educational content for students and provide more administrative features for colleges, said Joseph Freed, co-founder and chief executive officer of Byndr, in a phone conversation from the US, before the announcement was made public.
The company’s customers are all Indian and the products are being sold only in India for now. It will utilize funds to expand to emerging markets similar to India, Freed said, without identifying the countries.
Byndr was launched in March 2015 by five co-founders—three Indians and two Americans. Its Android application is used by over 50 Indian colleges, such as Osmania University College of Engineering and Chaitanya Bharathi Institute of Technology, and has a total installed base of over 50,000 students on its platform.
“In 2017, it is projected that 80% of the internet users in India will be mobile. So the only way to truly create a single point of access for students in mobile-dependent markets like India is with a mobile-first product," Freed said.
“This round of funding will allow us to accelerate expansion and continue providing easy-to-use and mobile-first products for all stakeholders in higher education."
Byndr mostly focuses on technology, management, gaming and arts colleges. It functions like an administrative suite allowing colleges to share and manage assignments, mark attendance, grade students, design a timetable to keep track of assignments and exams, upload content and share course activity in a feed.
Many Indian students are accessing the Internet for the first time over mobile devices, bypassing personal computing. Byndr is acknowledging this behavioural shift by building a mobile-based learning management system (LMS) from the ground up to accommodate low bandwidth and poor connectivity.
Students in emerging markets have limited access to higher education resources that were mobile-based, and a majority of them were not connected to their colleges on any online platform, Freed noted.
“From design perspective, it is important to start with mobile communication first," Freed said. “It helps colleges stay connected with students."
While colleges upload content, over time, Byndr plans to share educational resources for soft skills and test prep on its platform.
“Byndr is changing the LMS model," said Bobbi Kurshan, chairman of Education Design Studio in a statement. “It is creating a solution for emerging economies with lack of persistent internet, lower cost points and need for a light-weight solution. The new funding will be used to support and continue to grow the excellent team and to help expand the impact of this unique mobile solution across India and other emerging edtech ecosystems."