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After two years in which school hours have been held more in front of screens than in banks, online education remains a viable alternative. And profitable.
In October, Kinderpedia attracted € 1.8 million in an investment round led by Early Game Ventures, a venture capital investment fund funded primarily by the 2014-2020 Competitiveness Operational Program and co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund. . Early Game Ventures was joined by two other investment funds, RocaX and Growceanu, which also participated in other previous rounds of financing the management and communication services platform dedicated to kindergartens and schools.
“It was a great satisfaction that, in addition to the new investors, all the investors who have been with us before in the past participated in the round,” says Evelina Necula, co-founder of Kinderpedia, explaining that the money raised will be allocated to expansion projects. international business, as well as to make small improvements to the product. Available in 15 languages, Kinderpedia is a cloud platform that includes features such as electronic catalog, presence, schedule, remote video teaching, theme mode, document library.
Founded in 2014 by three entrepreneurs – Evelina Necula (40 years old), Daniel Rogoz (36 years old) and Valentin Ilea (40 years old) – Kinderpedia was initially launched as a platform for kindergartens, through which to ensure communication and better collaboration between parents and educators. “I chose the easy name, because I had something in mind that would inspire the idea of encyclopedia of the child and his years of education, starting from the early stage. So, Kinderpedia “, says Evelina Necula.
The idea of making an application in the field of education came after several rounds of brainstorming. Evelina Necula owned at that time the advertising company OneTouch Advertising, together with her partner Daniel Rogoz, offering communication services and digital content for international clients in fields such as real estate, construction or the hospitality industry.
In 2014, the two wanted to go on the market with their own product. “We thought that most of the needs were in this area of education,” says Evelina Necula. Initially, Kinderpedia was funded from the advertising business revenue, and after a year a European funding of 135,000 euros was implemented.
In the period that followed, the founders of Kinderpedia worked to persuade private schools to use this platform and to abandon the classic means of communicating with parents via e-mail, Facebook or WhatsApp. Only in the first year of activity they presented the application in over 80 kindergartens. “In 2017, we also launched the native Kinderpedia applications for Android and iOS, for parents. And in the second half of the year, the first paying customers came “, details Evelina Necula.
As most Kinderpedia partners also had schools in their portfolio, the educational platform entered a new stage and began developing applications for students as well. In 2018, a first private round of financing appeared, which came from a group of three Swiss angel investors, former CEOs of SABMiller, once the second largest brewer in the world, disbanded in 2016. They announced an initial financing of 150,000 euros, in order to later increase the value of the investment itself to over 200,000 euros.
As a result of this investment, Kinderpedia has tripled the number of active users over the next year. In 2019, the electronic catalog was launched in the application, a moment that brought to Kinderpedia sound names from private education, such as Ioanid School, Elf School or Aletheea School. Luckily, in the last quarter of 2019, Kinderpedia also won two awards after appearing in a series of business accelerators, which also came with a total financial component of 65,000 euros. As, in 2020, the educational field was hit hard by the medical crisis caused by the COVID-19 epidemic, Kinderpedia invested this money in the development of online school-specific features. “From this perspective, the COVID crisis caught us on a good footing, because we already had customers in the school area and we quickly received feedback on what they need,” says the entrepreneur.
The first discussion with the educational units present on the platform was about the development of facilities that would allow the development of online courses. At that time, no educational platform had an option for online schooling, says Evelina Necula. “And then, five days after the schools closed, we integrated Zoom on Kinderpedia, which means that you can start a distance video lesson from the schedule,” she adds.
In the same week, the three entrepreneurs presented the Kinderpedia platform and the Ministry of Education, to which they offered it free of charge. Prior to the declaration of a state of emergency, Kinderpedia was accessed by about 150 schools and kindergartens, with 17,000 users, most of them in the area of private education. In the first week of June 2020, the platform already registered and taught teachers from more than 2,000 schools, while the number of active users had reached 100,000. “Since we opened up to public education, we have discovered that there are enough teachers with good digital skills, who know how to understand the usefulness and value of such a platform,” says Necula.
Under these conditions, Kinderpedia had revenues of around 200,000 euros in 2020, double the results of 2019, for the current year it is estimated a new doubling of turnover. To keep up with this growing trend, Kinderpedia has continued to attract new funding. In 2020, the company benefited from a private round of investments worth about 500,000 euros: 200,000 euros came from the RocaX investment fund, over 200,000 euros were obtained from a crowdfunding campaign which was received joined by about 50 private investors, and the rest – from Growceanu, an angel investor group from Timisoara.
All these funds have been used to improve the platform’s infrastructure and prepare for expansion into foreign markets, where it is already present in 14 countries on three continents and is available in 15 languages. Relatively recently, Kinderpedia has partnered with an international educational franchise, Maple Bear, which in the summer of 2020 began using the platform developed in Romania as a complete infrastructure for the management of its schools and kindergartens in Central and Eastern Europe. “That’s how we understood that, in addition to being a very good solution for school management, we are also an equally good solution for educational franchises,” says Evelina Necula.
She believes that after the situation created by the pandemic in the educational area, most schools would consider continuing to use online education platforms in parallel with the traditional teaching system. It is interesting how teachers will look at this idea.
This article appeared in issue 129 of . magazine
PHOTO: Laszlo Raduly