South African edtech startup FoondaMate has secured $2 million seed funding in a round led by LocalGlobe, the UK-based venture capital firm, to drive uptake of its Whatsapp and Facebook-based learning chatbot across the globe.
Foondamate helps students with their revision by giving them immediate answers to questions and access to revision papers, while also guiding them in responses to questions.
Co-founder Dacod Magagula told TechCrunch that the startup targets high-school students in emerging markets where Whatsapp is widely used and is a lot cheaper or free to access. Its learning chatbot, he said, is easy to use, affordable and acts as an organized alternative to using search engines for study. Educators also use FoondaMate’s integrated resources to set and post homework and to share other learning materials with students.
Magagula said he started working on FoondaMate in August 2020, when WhatsApp opened its API in beta – to help businesses connect to customers.
Since launch FoondaMate has been used the world over by more than 400,000 students using over 10 languages in over 30 countries, including Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, and Indonesia – where the startup recently launched and has seen a surge in usage.
Magagula said the startup is currently working on localizing its learning material to accommodate learners in more countries and fuel the growth of its platform to more than 50 million users. Its recent funding round brings around the resources needed for this rapid take-off.
The startup has a team that vets where the bot sources the information, and also monitors results, to keep the children safe on the platform.
In addition to LocalGlobe, the round had the participation of Emerge Education, Odunayo Eweniyi via FirstCheckAfrica, Iyin Aboyeji via Future Africa, and LoftyInc, alongside angels from Luno (Marcus Swanepoel) and Justworks (Isaac Oates). They join XX accelerator, the startup’s first backer.