African Edtech Startup uLesson raises $15M

African Edtech Startup uLesson

African Edtech Startup uLesson

As many edtech companies benefited from the disruption of the pandemic, attracting wads of cash from investors globally, it did feel like African startups were left out. Well, not anymore: Two-year-old startup uLesson announced today that it closed a $15 million Series B round.

The investment, which comes 11 months after uLesson raised a $7.5 million Series A, was completed by five investors: Tencent, Nielsen Ventures, and existing investors Owl Ventures, TLcom Capital, and Founder Collective. It is the largest disclosed investment in an African edtech startup.

Founded by Nigerian serial founder Sim Shagaya in 2019, uLesson came into the market when the pandemic hit last year. As a young company, it has had to switch business models a couple of times to see what sticks in a very tough African market.

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The startup first launched by providing a product pack of SD cards and dongles with pre-recorded videos for K-12 students. They can either access lessons via streaming or use the SD cards to download and store the content.

But uLesson has introduced new features for an all-encompassing edtech play for this demographic. It added quizzes and a homework help feature to connect students with tutors from universities. The startup also launched a one-to-many live class feature with polls and leaderboards and a one-to-one live experience for DevKids, a coding class independent of the core uLesson platform.

DevKids has since been rolled back, though. Shagaya said uLesson is making efforts to introduce the feature — which started as an experiment in teaching kids how to code and at some point made 30% of the company’s revenues  — into the uLesson platform by January next year.

“What we want ultimately is different strata of free users that can use the app and can pay for a premium experience to attend live classes or get the homework helper,” 

Sim Shagaya – CEO & Founder

The variety of uLesson’s services provides a stickiness (students spend an average of 57 minutes on the app) that has led to parents investing in smartphones for their kids’ schooling either independently or via uLesson’s “device+plan” bundle, which is only available in Nigeria.

Parents also allow their kids to learn on their phones (roughly 50% of uLesson’s learners do that). The prices on uLesson range from a monthly fee of ₦7500 (about $18) to a two-year “device+plan” of ₦137,000 ($334).

So far, the uLesson app has 2 million downloads, the company said. Over 12.3 million videos have been watched, with 25.6 million questions answered on the platform.

Surprisingly, uLesson kept growing despite K-12 students going back to school. Contrary to public perception of the product as a second option for K-12 students, Shagaya said uLesson has become ingrained in everyday schooling activities for its users.


African Edtech Startup uLesson

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