Firefly Learning, an Edtech business started from scratch by two London school boys to help them revise for exams, has secured the biggest series A funding that the UK Edtech sector has ever witnessed. The online tool, which can be used by teachers, students and parents, has raised £4.5 million from BGF Ventures and Beringea, with BGF Ventures’ contribution of £3 million making it the leading investor.
Joe and I were friends at school and we first started developing this idea for a business when we were 13 or 14 and staring at a pile of revision notes on a bedroom floor. We thought there has to be a better way to organise school work, which has hardly changed since Victorian times. We started experimenting with programming and built a new intranet for our school, so we could access homework and resources from our computers.
Firefly Learning has developed a way to connect students, teachers and pupils so that they can collaborate even when they are not face to face, so that resources can be made available easily and curated properly and so that teachers can set and mark tasks quickly and easily, while allowing parents greater participation, which has been shown to improve results overall.
Some teachers are still quite wary of using technology as part of their job, but we’ve always been incredibly focused on making it as easy to possible to use. If they can write an email, they can create a learning resource for their pupils on Firefly.
The money raised from this latest round of funding will be used to develop the Firefly product through research and development and expand the sales and marketing team. Firefly currently has 50 staff in offices in Hammersmith and in Sydney and in the next stage of growth, they plan to double the size of the company.
With the move to push responsibility for school budgets down to head teachers and away from local authorities, there is an opportunity to introduce lots more schools across the state sector to the Firefly platform.
Simon Calver, founding partner at BGF Ventures, said:
There are lots of apps and platforms for schools out there but Firefly has created a complete platform that integrates reminders, messaging, homework setting activities and learning resources. Firefly is already an international business operating in over thirty countries and we think this product has the potential to be the foremost platform in the global Edtech space.
We are delighted to be investing in Firefly alongside BGF Ventures. Simon, Joe, and the Firefly team have built an exceptionally strong product, as demonstrated by its high loyalty amongst teachers and schools.
Schools in the UK are currently spending £900 million a year on education technology, and are being encouraged to focus it on ways to improve their pupils’ performance. Simultaneously, however, schools are also under pressure to raise educational standards even as budgets are being squeezed.
Firefly hence swoops onto such a scene, bringing excellent value for money (it charges schools on a per student basis, with schools typically paying between £7–12 per student), giving annual access to a multi-featured platform for little more than the cost of a homework diary per pupil, and saving the day. As a testament to this, the edtech startup today is used in more than 400 schools across the UK – including Charterhouse and Sevenoaks School and an increasing number of state schools.