Hyderabad based learning management platform Byndr on Thursday said t it has raised USD 700,000 (Rs 4.70 crore) in seed funding from Education Design Studio, Ben Franklin Technology Partners and a group of angel investors.
Byndr will use this money to expand its sales and development teams. It will 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.
Byndr was launched in March 2015 by five co-founders—three Indians and two Americans. The founding team (Joseph Freed, Praveen Vangeepuram and Marc Garabedian in Philadelphia and Satish Nampally and Prashanthi Vangeepuram in Hyderabad) noticed that students in higher education had limited access to educational resources that were mobile-based, and a majority of students were not connected to their colleges on any online platform.
Byndr was created with the aim of becoming a single point of access for students in higher education to connect to their colleges and educational resources. The cloud-based, mobile-first start-up, was incubated at the University of Pennsylvania’s Education Design Studio Inc. which runs a seed fund dedicated to education start-ups.
The android app is now being used by 50 colleges in India ranging from small set-ups to those amongst the 100 most prestigious institutions and universities including Osmania College of Engineering and Chaitanya Bharathi Institute of Technology. It has a base of 50,000 students.
“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 likeIndia is with a mobile-first product,” Byndr co-founder and CEO Joseph Freed said.
He added that Byndr helps students stay engaged and connected to educational resources outside the classroom, enabling the concept of anytime and anywhere learning with a fast and light platform.
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.
“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,” he said.
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.
“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.
Bobbi Kurshan, Executive Director of Academic Innovations at The University of Pennsylvania GSE, and Chairman of the Education Design Studio, which participated in this round, said, “Byndr is changing the LMS model. It is creating a solution for emerging economies with lack of persistent internet, lower cost points and need for a lightweight 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 ed-tech ecosystems.”
Byndr is a graduate of the Education Design Studio, the ed-tech accelerator at the University of Pennsylvania. It is also being supported by Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern PA, an initiative of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development funded by the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority.
Although the education sector has not seen much traction from the investors, recently BYJU’s raised $75 million from Sequoia Capital and Sofina and is also in talks to raise another hefty amount of $50 million.
Other well-funded education startups include Accel and Tiger-backed Vedantu, Educomp, and iProf.