Accelerators: Emerge Education
Continuing our series on accelerators/incubators/investors in the edtech industry, today we will take a look at Emerge Education, a London, UK based accelerator for education startups. Ms. Lucy Lynn-Evans, Venture Hunter at Emerge Education, spoke in length about Emerge Education, its program, and background.
Until early 2014, Emerge Education existed as Emerge Venture Labs, an accelerator with much broader social element focus. Emerge operates a bi-annual cohort program, with the next cohort beginning in January 2015 (note: you can still apply for the January 2015 cohort, the deadline is November 17th. To apply, click here).
The admitted cohort members gain broad support from Emerge in form of space, funding, expertise, and access to the market. For office/working space, Emerge Education has partnered with Oxford University Press and Neon (a private investment firm founded by one of Emerge investors, Mr. Neil Hutchinson) to provide Edspace. Emerge also provides £15K to the participating startup in form of living stipend.
Additionally, to help the entrepreneurs plan and execute, Emerge makes available its broad line of expertise in form of Venture Partners. Lucy describes them as “individuals who select specific startups from within the cohort to work closely with over the program. They personally invest a small amount of money in those ventures (which is received through the £15k living stipend), and commit an hour of their time each week. The venture partners were picked because each of them have built and sold education or technology ventures, and are experts at growing companies. They also bring with them a powerful network.” They include the following individuals:
Chris Newson founded and built Student Room, the largest student community in the world. Note that he has done it almost entirely through SEO (!).
Owen White, Digital Dtrategy Director at Pearson, brings solid experience and knowledge on schools, publishers and distributors. In Lucy’s words, he knows these “like the back of his hand.”
James Weatherall founded Arbor, and has sold his way into hundreds of schools throughout the UK and abroad.
Ben Whately the founder of Memrise, brings product and social media marketing experience.
Volker Hirsch is a serial founder, loves mobile and gamification, and is particularly genius at sales and business development.
And Emerge does not stop there – the accelerator has also assembled a large mentor network, with over 80+ mentors (see the Emerge Education website for a full listing). The mentors are selected based on their active interest in education or edtech. Mentors include “founders, sales whizzes, people obsessed with gamification, masters of devices, governors of schools; every skill needed to grow edtech products and services. They also have a very active role in our program: we introduce them to the startups on appointed mentor days, when startups can take full advantage of their expertise.”
As anyone who starts a startup or who invests into one knows, gaining access to a large customer base is particularly challenging for an entrepreneur, especially in education industry. To address this, Emerge Education has partnered with key players in the education sector (e.g. Pearson), thus providing connections to major stakeholders “across the education value chain, from senior leaders in school chains and media companies, to users of education products like students and teachers.
In partnership with TES, three of current cohort startups (A Tale Unfolds, Drum Roll and Bibblio) gain access to teachers to test their products. Two other startups (names undisclosed) are working with Oxford University Press on content partnerships. Even Samsung is involved by working with A Tale Unfolds and Nursery Book to help them get their products on the compatible devices and thus, in front of learners.
With the focus on education, strong network of individuals and partners, Emerge Education certainly has what it takes to accelerate the participating edtech startup.
Date of founding: Early 2014
Location: London, UK
# of cohorts per year: 2
Length of cohort program: 3 months
Focus of program: education
Funding: £15,000 living stipend
EdTech Times thanks Ms. Lucy Lynn-Evans for providing background information on Emerge Education.
Yevgeny Ioffe, or as people call him, Yev, has been working in both the startup world and established companies. His career spans from joining Xplana Learning as it launched to Cengage Learning to MBS Direct when it acquired Xplana in 2009. Yevgeny brings to EdTech Times his passion for start-ups and technology, along with his interest in the ever evolving world of edtech. Yevgeny obtained his BSc and MA from Brandeis University and MBA from Boston College.