Epic! raises $eight million to maintain youngsters studying in a digital age
The makers of Epic!, one among many apps jockeying to develop into a “Netflix for books,” have raised $eight million in a spherical led by Attain Capital, the education-specialized enterprise agency. Extra traders within the Sequence C included TransLink Capital, Rakuten Ventures, Menlo Ventures, WI Harper, Brighteye Ventures and Innovation Endeavors.
Epic! at its core is an on-demand digital library that features about 25,000 completely different books and movies acceptable for teenagers in elementary faculty, or between the ages of about 5 and twelve. Among the books on the platform have audio elements, permitting youngsters to hear as they learn alongside. The startup, which was based in 2013 and launched its app in 2014, claims to achieve 5 million youngsters right this moment, partially by use of Epic! in colleges.
In keeping with Epic! co-founder Kevin Donahue, previously a VP of Content material for YouTube, the startup thinks of itself as extra of a client model than an schooling one. The corporate prices youngsters’ households, not colleges or districts, to be used of its app. However Epic! does enable lecturers to make use of their app and its large digital library at school without cost.
By gifting away the app, after all lecturers do among the work of promoting for Epic!, a form of symbiosis not unusual in schooling tech. Thus far, the corporate stories 87 p.c of Ok-5 colleges within the U.S. are utilizing Epic! for studying time in English language arts and different lessons. The app features a instructor dashboard and options that enable educators to trace youngsters’ progress in studying, in addition to to help and increase on no matter they’re studying on their very own time.
Donahue mentioned, “We wanted to see if we could encourage kids to read more on digital devices even though videos and games are right there. We did that!” Different apps, notably Kindle for Children, encourage youngsters to learn on cellular units, however make studying right into a activity that earns them entry to movies and video games.
The Epic! app avoids that with an interest-driven focus. Its consumer interface encourages youngsters to leap from a video right into a e book or different interactive content material and again. The thought is to engross them in studying about one thing they’re already obsessive about, however to not deal with studying supplies as sub-par to different codecs.
Attain Capital Normal Associate Jennifer Carolan mentioned one cause her agency invested in Epic! is the corporate’s skill to “bridge the gap” between house and faculty. She mentioned, “A separation between school and home is a false one when it comes to learning. Learning happens in school, at home, on the playground… No other products cross that chasm.”
Given the funding, Donahue mentioned, Epic! will probably be hiring, spending extra on advertising and promoting and exploring partnerships in Asia the place the corporate has not too long ago seen quite a lot of demand for its app, although its contents are for English-language readers, particularly. The corporate can be continuously including new content material varieties to its platform, together with books, audio and video from fascinating publishers. In the future, Donahue expects Epic! will embody some quantity of VR and AR content material, probably.
The startup faces competitors from a plethora of studying apps, together with these bought to varsities, like LightSail, Newsela or the nonprofit CommonLit, and client apps just like the Studying Rainbow Skybrary, Tales2Go or Amazon’s Kindle for Children.
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