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50 Emerging Ed-Tech Companies to Watch in 2021

By Bessie Liu

Last updated: Feb 15, 2023

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In recent years, and notably during the COVID-19 pandemic, digital technology has vastly transformed traditional classrooms, making education more accessible, engaging and individualized for students, while reducing time and distance limitations. The Org has compiled a list of emerging startups that are making their mark in the education technology space.

Image credit: Jenny Nilsson.
Image credit: Jenny Nilsson.

1. The Minerva Project

When Ben Nelson was a college student at the University of Pennsylvania he was interested in reforming higher education. He founded Minerva Project in 2011 with a vision to nurture critical wisdom for the sake of the world through a systematic and evidence-based approach to learning.

“Not only does Minerva not teach students what to think, it does not even teach them how to think. It teaches them that there are many ways of thinking.This is done by focusing on an interdisciplinary education that focuses on concepts that transcend contexts. These underlying concepts are applied again and again across disciplines,” Diana El Azar, the Senior Director of Strategic Communications, told The Org.

Since its launch, the company has grown to around 60 employees in 10 countries around the world.

2. DreamBox Learning

DreamBox Learning is an effective elementary and middle school math and reading software solution that creates personalized instruction for its students. DreamBox offers schools the only dual-discipline solution rated “Strong” by Johns Hopkins’ in both mathematics and reading.

The company has raised an impressive $175.6 million since its genesis in 2004, and offers over 2,000 lessons through interactive solutions.

3. Class

After his children were unable to attend in-person classes as a result of the lockdowns, Michael Chasen observed changes in the way they were learning. He was inspired to build Class to bridge the gap between in-person teaching and virtual learning.

“The COVID-19 pandemic taught us the virtual classroom isn’t going anywhere,” Chasen told The Org. “Class adds teaching and learning tools to Zoom with the main goal of making the virtual classroom feel like a real classroom. It helps teachers take attendance, hand out assignments, give a quiz or test, grade work, proctor exams, talk one-on-one with a student, and more.”

Class is currently headquartered in Washington D.C. with almost 200 employees. The company has raised an impressive $160 million in less than a year, with its most recent Series B led by SoftBank Vision Fund raising $105 million.

4. Yellowbrick

Yellowbrick’s founders saw a need for accessible online education for creative industries. The company is focused on breaking barriers to entry for individuals from non-traditional backgrounds.

“Young people aren't getting jobs in the careers they're passionate about and nobody is providing guidance that helps them understand what to even shoot for. Over time, we're talking lost income, lost career progress and tremendous college debt when the wrong career path is chosen,” a Yellowbrick representative told The Org.

“Yellowbrick's programs are about stripping away that mystery, showing creative and passionate learners everything that goes into the things they love, and, in the process, unveiling to them what their potential role might be.”

The company has over 40 employees across multiple functions, including academic, development, marketing and more.

5. Outschool

At only five years old, Amir Nathoo had already taught himself how to code on a BBC microcomputer, a skill that stemmed from his interest in computer gaming. From there, Nathoo was interested in learning how to write his own computer game, but there were no schools at the time that offered computer science courses. Later in life, Nathoo reflected on his childhood and realized that his most enjoyable learning experiences had stemmed from his innate curiosity. Wanting to help other children discover their love for learning, he teamed up with Nick Grandy to build Outschool.

“Outschool offers live online education experiences that connect real-life teachers with learners in small-group settings to explore everything from Minecraft, Pokemon and cooking, to chemistry, algebra and literature,” an Outschool representative told The Org. “We’re an alternative to expensive private school education, personal tutors and other extracurricular programs.”

Since its inception, the company has raised $130 million in funding. It currently has over 150 employees across teams in product, engineering, safety, partnerships, marketing and more.

6. Lambda School

Online coding education provider Lambda School gives students the opportunity to train remotely without having to pay tuition until they are employed.

“I started Lambda School after living in a car to teach myself to code,” Austen Allred, Co-founder and CEO, told The Org. “When I would talk to people when I went back home from Silicon Valley they would always ask me what they should do to do what I did, and there wasn't anything great I could recommend. So I started it.”

The company has raised $120 million in funding since its genesis and it has approximately 100 employees based mostly in the school, with a few standard corporate positions.

7. BEGiN

Neal Shenoy founded BEGiN to bring high-quality education to children from a young age. The company offers early education apps, which help young kids learn and play through games, stories and songs. The company has raised a total of $112.8 million in funding and is hoping to turn a profit by the end of this year.

8. Varsity Tutors

Private tutoring changed Chuck Cohn’s life. He went from an F to an A+ student in honors geometry. After going to university, he struggled to find high-quality tutoring for some of his courses, so he decided to build Varsity Tutors, a company that provides personalized instruction through an advanced technology platform. Varsity Tutors has since raised $107 million in funding and operates in many states across the U.S.

9. Aceable

Mobile-first education platform Aceable provides certifications in driver’s education and real estate. The company was founded by Blake Garrett in 2012 with a mission to allow people to achieve their goals with accessible licensing courses.

“If there’s anything that we’ve learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that accessibility to educational content has become an extremely important part of our daily lives,” an Aceable representative told The Org. “We believe that education and value-added training should be cost-effective, yet also high quality.”

Since launch, the company has raised over $100 million, most recently landing $50 million in growth investment from private equity firm HGGC.

10. Brightwheel

Child care management solution Brightwheel hopes to provide high quality education for every child through its software. It allows teachers to easily manage attendance, billing, enrollment, chat with parents and design learning plans.

The company has raised $88.8 million in funding. Its latest Series C, which raised $55 million, was led by Addition in February this year.

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11. DMAI

DMAI believes that AI and personalized learning platforms will improve children’s educational development. The company hopes to develop cognitive AI assistants and platforms that will improve learning outcomes, especially for people in the fields of healthcare and education.

The company currently has offices in Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Beijing and Los Angeles. It has raised over $70 million in funding led by GF Venture Capital and Sailing Capital.

12. ClassDojo

ClassDojo is on a mission to provide children with the learning experiences they love by breaking down the barriers of what is considered an ‘ideal’ education. Its platform is designed as a school communication platform for students, teachers and parents. Users are able to build community through sharing photos, videos and messages.

The platform is actively used in 95% of all K-8 schools in the United States, with an estimated one in six families in the country with a child under 14 using ClassDojo every day.

13. CreativeLIVE

CreativeLive was founded by Chase Jarvis and Craig Swanson in 2009 in hopes of operating workshops that could support people to develop creative skills. It now offers free and live online classes, and it has over two million students with a database of over 500 courses across multiple subjects.

The company has raised $58.3 million in funding since it was founded. Its latest Series B was led by GSV Ventures, raising $25.3 million.

14. Kiddom

Kiddom is building technology that enables educators to incorporate social and emotional learning (SEL) into their teaching. It offers a digital curriculum to engage students both in-person and online.

Founded by Abbas Manjee and Ahsan Rizvi in 2015, the company has raised $56.5 million in funding, with its latest Series C in August this year raising $35 million.

15. Skilljar

Sandi Lin and Jason Stewart noticed that companies were developing complex software and technology that their users did not know how to maximize, so they got together and developed Skilljar. Their customer training platform helps simplify and transform the way companies onboard, engage and retain their users.

Skilljar raised $33 million in funding in its Series B round led by Insights Partners and has since raised a total of $53.2 million.

16. Noodle Partners

Noodle works with universities to engage students through online and hybrid programs that aim to raise capacity, lower operational costs and improve collaboration between institutions. The company was founded by John Katzman in 2013 and now has over 100 employees across the U.S. and Asia.

17. BrightBytes

BrightBytes transforms data into actionable insights which influence students’ academic performance and overall wellbeing. The company was founded by Hisham Anwar and Rob Mancabelli, who met on their first day of business school at MIT.

“After spending years deepening their knowledge of the education space, they observed there wasn’t an easy way for educational practitioners to quickly and easily measure the effectiveness of changes to teaching and learning,” a representative of BrightBytes told The Org.

“They resolved to build an online SaaS platform that would deliver accessible and actionable research to practitioners around the world. BrightBytes was born.”

18. Clever

Clever is a digital learning platform that centralizes resources, messaging and analytics. It was founded by Dan Carroll who was frustrated by the lack of streamlined technology. To solve this, he founded a team and built a single sign-on portal that now supports 65% of U.S. K-12 Schools.

19. NovaKid

In 2017 Russian native Maxim Azarov was desperately looking for a qualified native English teacher for his son, but struggled to find anyone in his network. On a trip to Shanghai, he saw an advertisement for VipKid, a popular language school in China, whilst he was riding the subway. This sparked him to build Novakid, which has since delivered over three million online classes to over 380 thousand students in over 40 countries.

“Learning is merging with entertainment, and digitization is assisting this trend as video and gamification help to deliver new and engaging learning experiences,” Azarov, CEO and Co-founder of Novakid, told The Org. “Companies that make learning interactive and fun for students have the best chances for the market leading positions.”

The company has raised $41.5 million in funding, with its most recent Series B round in August 2021 raising $35 million. NovaKid plans to use the investment to expand into new markets in Asia, develop original content and launch a new gamification platform.

20. Higher Ground Education

Higher Ground Education is a network of schools dedicated to Montessori education across the U.S. and China. The company provides various learning options for students, parents and educators with no location limitations. It recently raised a $30 million Series D led by Learn Capital.

21. Vooks

With a mission to inspire a love for reading, Vooks is a streaming library of read-aloud animated books for children. The company was founded in 2018 by Marshall Bex IV, Russell Hirtzel, Shannon Bex and Joey Jenkins.

22. DataCamp

Datacamp hopes to democratize data skills for everyone by providing high-quality, unlimited resources for individuals and companies. It currently provides free and unlimited access to classes for over 350,000 students worldwide and is used by over 2,000 companies. The company was founded by Jonathan Cornelissen, Martijn Theuwissen and Dieter De Mesmaeker.

23. Nearpod

Nearpod provides real-time insights to teachers on their students’ learning and development through its interactive platform. In 2020, the platform was used to teach 19.5 million lessons and is looking to continuously grow its new interactive video library.

24. Mainstay

Formerly known as Admithub, Mainstay is an engagement platform made for universities and businesses to engage with their students and clients at scale. The platform’s chatbots are able to drive results through predictive analytics and support users in a timely manner.

25. Lessonly

A training, coaching and enablement solution for customer service teams, Lessonly helps its clients deliver lessons around being more productive in their day-to-day work. The company has over 6,000 employees and 850 of those staff are in sales training, which has its own platform.

26. Tinkergarten

Designed for families with young children, Tinkergarten is a platform that helps families spend more time outdoors. The company organizes curriculums that parents can use to ensure their children are playing outdoors.

27. MakeSchool

Nonprofit organization MakeSchool is on a mission to create upward mobility for children of all backgrounds. The company highlighted that its students are often employed by big tech companies soon after graduation and earn six-figure salaries.

28. Elsa

Elsa helps non-native English speakers learn the language with its personal AI-powered speaking coach. Users are able to obtain detailed feedback on their pronunciation and receive feedback on their strengths and weaknesses.

29. Maven

Former high school and college classmates Wes Kao and Gagan Biyani reunited in 2020 after years of exploring the ed-tech space alone. They founded Maven, a platform that helps creators monetize their talents.

Although the company only officially launched in January 2021, it has seen significant growth since then onboarding more than 3,000 users. The team raised $5M in seed funding led by First Round and a $20M Series A led by A16Z. It has also drawn in prominent angel investors including Naval Ravikant, Li Jin, and the founders of Superhuman, Teachable, and Lambda School.

“With most passive learning platforms, the creator only keeps a sliver of revenue, forcing a reliance on a large volume of followers to earn a decent living,” Wes Kao, Co-founder of Maven told The Org. “With Maven, instructors make 90% of their course’s revenue, providing them the freedom to grow their community and do what they love.”

30. SplashLearn

SplashLearn is changing the way elementary school kids are learning mathematics and reading with its personalized program that is available across multiple digital platforms. It has over 40 million users worldwide.

31. Securly

Run by a team of parents, educators and technology experts, Securly is a platform that provides enterprise security to K-12 students. The company is on a mission to detect and protect students from depression, bullying and self-harm.

32. Swing Education

Swing Education helps educators recruit and screen substitute teachers through its online platform. It currently serves over 700 partners in the U.S., streamlining and simplifying the difficult process of finding a last-minute substitute teacher.

33. Cybrary

Cybersecurity and professional development company Cybrary provides hands-on, personalized learning experiences for its students in the fast-paced cybersecurity space. Students have access to a community of talented instructors who help to prepare them for on-demand industry certifications.

34. Talview

Sanjoe Tom Jose and Mani Ka saw the value of video interviews when they were students at the Indian Institute of Technology. What started as a video interviewing platform soon became Talview, an organization dedicated to providing AI solutions for hiring and assessments.

35. NexGenT

The cybersecurity space has a shortage of people, and NextGenT is here to help by offering military grade cybersecurity training to people interested in getting a tech job by 2030. The company is founded by Airforce veterans Terry Kim and Jacob Hess.

36. Tinybop

Changing the way children experience the world, Tinybop is on a mission to create educational toys and apps for kids in the classroom and at home. The company is based in Brooklyn, New York, and consists of a small team of designers, engineers and artists.

37. Platzi

Online education platform Platzi offers students livestreamed courses on marketing, programming, business management and design. Based in Colombia, the company also has an office in San Francisco, California.

38. Full Measure Education

Washington D.C.-based Full Measure Education is focused on providing personalized mobile experiences for students in over 450 institutions in the United States. The platform simplifies the enrollment process and allows students to easily access support services, and measure and track their progress.

39. Flockjay

Flockjay is an educational platform that equips students with the necessary skills they need to know to be in a tech sales role in just ten weeks. The services are accessible from anywhere with no advanced degree required.

40. AstrumU

AstrumU hopes to provide predictive individual learning recommendations to every student. The platform uses verified data from employers, educational institutions and service providers to predict how experiences can translate into career outcomes.

41. Allovue

Allovue is a K-12 finance software that allows schools to easily allocate, budget and manage their resources. The company was founded by former middle school teacher Jess Gartner in 2013 with the hopes of creating student success through successful budgeting.

42. Treehouse

Treehouse hopes to diversify the tech industry by providing online coding and design classes. There are currently over 313,000 students at Treehouse that span across more than 190 countries.

43. Pathrise

Pathrise is an online program designed for tech professionals, which provides its students with one-on-one mentorship and training that assists them in finding their next job. Students are only required to pay for services if they are successfully hired. The company has seen a 96% placement rate of their fellows.

44. ABL Schools

Education software passionate about equity, ABL is an insights and tools provider designed for school districts to build master schedules, redesign programs and improve resource efficiency. The company currently has 33 employees.

45. AllHere

AllHere uses AI and mobile messaging to help educational institutions improve communication with parents and students. The company was founded by Joanna Smith, a former District Attendance and Family Engagement Coordinator who was frustrated with the limited ways to support students at the right time.

46. Juni Learning

Founded by Vivian Shen and Ruby Lee in 2017, Juni is a company that wants to give kids the right support at the right time by providing them with expert mentorship, a strong community and a joyful learning experience. Juni currently offers courses in computer science, investing and entrepreneurship, mathematics and English.

47. Tynker

A coding platform designed for children aged 5-18, Tynker wants to power creativity through its interactive story-based learning tools. Students have the opportunity to learn text-based languages including JavaScript and Python. Over 100,000 schools are currently signed up with Tynker.

49. Upswing

Upswing is a virtual assistant that is on a mission to end attrition by reaching, understanding and retaining non-traditional students.. The company has already had 4,800 unique conversations take place, and prevented 42,000 dropouts.

50. Hapara

Hapara is an educational management software that wants to create a world of inspired and empowered learners. The tool organizes teaching materials in the G Suite to create a seamless workflow for educational providers.

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