Fiveable Wins $ 10 Million Series A To Become ‘The Corridors Of The Educational Internet’ – TechCrunch
As the pandemic continues to unfold unevenly, the backdrop these days has never been so stagnant. While tech workers may turn to virtual HQs or Twitter spaces for spontaneous chats, high school students are looking for casual places online to chat and study with friends. And Fiveable, a Milwaukee-based startup, is meeting the growing demand.
Fiveable started years ago as a free online learning community for high school students with the goal of helping them pass Advanced Placement (AP) exams. It has grown in popularity by broadcasting live five-hour, topic-focused cram shops, creating study guides, and running a Discord with thousands of students. Now it is evolving into a social learning platform that helps any student navigate high school.
“We are the hallways of the educational Internet,” said Amanda DoAmaral, co-founder and CEO of Fiveable. “What are the students doing in the halls of the school? They hang out with friends, they catch books, they figure out where they need to be next, they catch up – and a lot of what happens in Fiveable is it.
DoAmaral’s vision, built alongside co-founder Tán Ho, fueled Fiveable’s latest fundraising event. The startup announced today that it has raised a $ 10 million Series A led by Union Square Ventures, with participation from Owl Ventures and Progression Fund. Previously, Fiveable had raised more than $ 4.2 million from investors including BBG Ventures, Chelsea Clinton’s Metrodora Ventures, Emerson Collective, Beta Boom, gener8tor, Matchstick Ventures, Darrell Silver and Serena Williams.
The money will be used to help Fiveable grow their team to help them create more student-led online spaces.
“Where do you live, what teacher do you get, what resources do you have access to? All of these things ultimately determine whether or not you will be successful, ”DoAmaral said. “And so what we really want to be able to do is put that power back into the hands of the students, so that their ability to navigate who they want to be is much more evident to them.”
Fiveable’s objective is refined to be more directed towards students just a few months after acquiring Hours, a virtual study platform built by 16-year-old Calix Huang. Hours allows students to create study sessions where each person has a to-do list and shared timer and playlist, a multiplayer experience that Fiveable students naturally flocked to before companies even merged. The co-founders explained that the acquisition helped them understand the magic within study groups and will guide the product roadmap for future functionality.
“When we started we were broadcasting live, we had blogs and study guides,” Ho said. “But once we started opening up community spaces, that’s when all the students started rushing in and setting up pomodoro rooms… 24/7. ” The magic of this engagement has helped the startup realize that it may need to focus less on teacher-led study sessions and more on ways to bring students together creatively.
He doesn’t do it alone. One of Fiveable’s competitive advantages is that it has over 50 students as paid interns on all teams except its executive suite. Additionally, the current Fiveable team is made up of 50% female, 38% non-white, and 24% LGBTQ +. The diverse perspectives help Fiveable stay on top of study trends, client research, and new perspectives.
“Establishing ourselves for the students as a space not just for AP, but for all of these other support systems, is definitely a challenge ahead of us,” DoAmaral said.
Fiveable’s reach has grown significantly over the past year. Over 7.3 million students have come to the platform, with 3X growth year over year, per startup. Its Discord community, launched in 2021, has more than 25,000 users. And, when it billed for access, it awarded more than 3,000 scholarships.
DoAmaral explained that because the startup currently prioritizes growth over monetization, access to its platform is completely free. Fiveable’s lead investor USV appears to be comfortable with the potentially controversial choice given that two of its portfolio companies, Quizlet and Duolingo, also continued to grow from the bottom up and ultimately made some income.
“I think there are a few categories that are as dynamic as K-12 education right now,” said Rebecca Kaden, partner at USV. “On the one hand, it’s a challenge – it’s really hard to create products to keep pace with a dynamic world and make sure you meet large-scale students where they are and how they are. think… on the other hand, this is the opportunity. “
She added: “Fiveable is emerging as the go-to platform and the foundation on which they can really live and learn, so navigating that line to make it an opportunity in the midst of a challenge is basically the genre. task of this company. “
In pursuit of growth, DoAmaral sees the biggest challenge for Fiveable as one that any community must reckon with: ensuring the integrity of the space from both an infrastructure and a community perspective.