African edtech startup uLesson has closed a Series B funding round at $15 million. The round follows eleven months after the edtech startup raised $7.5 million in a Series A round. The recently concluded funding round saw the involvement of five investors namely Chinese titan Tencent, Nielsen Ventures, Owl Ventures, TLcom Capital and Founder Collective. The investment is reportedly the largest disclosed investment that has been made in an edtech startup from Africa.
uLesson was founded in 2019 by Sim Shagaya and went mainstream following the advent of the pandemic. The company has, within the short period it started and the period of the pandemic had to change business models to deal with the challenges that came with being in an African market and the pandemic. When it launched, all the startup did was to provide a product pack of SD cards and dongles with pre-recorded videos for K-12 students – this way, students can either access lessons by streaming or using these SD cards to download and store the lessons.
Overtime, uLesson has revamped its platform by introducing new features and has shifted to accommodate more learners. The startup included quizzes and a homework help feature that connects students with tutors from various universities. It also added a live class feature and improved its coding class called DevKids by adding a one-on-one experience feature.
DevKids, which is independent of the main uLesson platform and started as an experiment to teach kids how to code, has since rolled back but uLesson’s founder said it would be introduced into uLesson’s platform by January 2022. “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. And because parents do want to invest in the best for their kids, one of the ways you can do that is personalized one-to-one instruction for their children, whether in coding through DevKids or math or science or English”, Sim Shagaya said.
According to the startup, the uLesson app has 2 million downloads and more than 12.3 million videos have been watched, with 25.6 million questions answered on the platform. uLesson is available in other African markets apart from Nigeria. It is available in South Africa, Sierra Leone, the UK, Liberia and the US which the founder claims to have spread by mere word of mouth. Nigeria, however, remains its biggest market as 85 percent of the platform’s paying customers come from Nigeria. According to the startup its paying users grew 600% this past year. Its monthly average users also increased 700%, while average daily users surged 430% within the same time frame. The company also added that its live lesson demand grew by 222% since its introduction in September. The company uses 180 field sales agents to onboard schools and individual users across Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya and Ghana, the countries receiving the most marketing attention from uLesson.
“Our vision is to create these feedback loops between teacher and learner and parent and school that embraces virtuous cycles and feed themselves to the betterment of the educational system”, Sim Shagaya said.