Shoreditch start-up gets gets over $1m for education app built by Stanford dropout
The funding comes venture capital firm Index Ventures and smoothie maker Innocent
A young British tech entrepreneur has received over $1m in seed funding for his education app, Gojimo.
George Burgess, a 21-year-old Stanford University dropout, is releasing his iOS mobile learning app for students in the App Store today to conincide with the funding announcement.
“The app is a way for students to study and prepare for exams on their phone or tablet,” Burgess told Techworld ahead of the launch. “We give students the ability to download and use text books, study guides, and quizzes on their mobile phone or on their tablet.
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The investment comes from Mayfair-based venture capital firm Index Ventures and Innocent Drinks investment arm, JamJar Investments.
"The investment is mainly for hiring. We’ve gone from a team of two to a team of five," said Burgess. "Prior to the money it was just me and one full time iOS developer. Now we’ve got a couple of mobile developers, a back end developer, and someone doing sales and marketing. It will hopefully allow us to improve and update the product much more often."
Gojimo, announced last week at the BETT education technology show in London, will initially be available for iPhone and iPad with content for “most” British and American secondary school qualifications.
It already offers content from big academic publishers including McGraw-Hill Education and Oxford University Press but Burgess is optimistic that the funding will help him to get other large publishers on board.
Students can download the app for free before going on to purchase the educational content they desire within it.
Gojimo is also hoping to get entire schools behind its platform by offering bulk purchase deals to academic institutions.
The Teacher Portal - previewed at BETT and set to be released later this year - will enable teachers to track their students’ progress, send them assignments and messages, and perform quizzes in the classroom.
Burgess is one of the youngest founders Index has invested in since it was founded in 1996.
However, securing the investment wasn't easy. "It was horribly intense and horribly high-pressured," said Burgess, who sat down with an associate investor at Index before being introduced to Index partner Saul Klein.
"Saul sort of marched into the room, sat me down, and said I’ve got 10 minutes. Go! I was just sort of left to figure out what to do in those 10 minutes. I started giving him a demo of our prototype and then 30 seconds in he started interupting me and bombarding me with questions.
"I think we struck a pretty good chord in those first 10 minutes and got on pretty well," said Burgess, adding that the pair found a link after realising they both went to St Paul's School in London, which counts chancellor George Osborne among its alumni. "It was a nice little link," said Burgess.
Klein said: “By reimagining education for the smart-phone and tablet-native generation of students, George’s ambition is nothing less than to change the way we teach and learn. At Index, we believe his impact will be felt far beyond the classroom walls and we are thrilled to be working with him.”