Knife Capital Invests in Edtech Startup SkillUp

Updated on 23 April 2018

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SkillUp-LandscapeEdTech startup SkillUp has received a Series A funding round from Knife Capital – a venture capital firm with offices in Cape Town and London.

SkillUp is a Cape Town based  that offers parents and students across South Africa access to thousands of highly skilled and vetted tutors based on grades, subject, location, and budget. The platform makes it easy to find and communicate with tutors and facilitates the purchasing and scheduling of both in-person and online lessons.

Knife Capital invests via a consortium of funding partnerships, including SARS section 12J Venture Capital Company KNF Ventures and select family offices.

The funding will be applied to accelerate user acquisition of learners and tutors, leverage partnerships with content providers and scale the business internationally. Since the launch of its website, iOS and Android apps in early 2017, SkillUp has seen significant traction through junior, high school and university students as well as adult learners. The startup aims to grow its footprint in South Africa with in-person lessons, workshops and online lessons. Through inbound interest from strategic partners, SkillUp is looking at expansion into the UK, other European markets and South-East Asia.

Online learning and tutoring are high-growth market segments both locally and internationally. Forbes estimates the current global online tutoring market at around $100bn and it is set to grow at 14% per annum up to 2021. This will drive new content creators and hosts to enter the market and strengthen and accelerate growth of the incumbents. SkillUp aims to tap into this market with the comparatively low cost of highly skilled South African tutors for an international audience.

Some forces driving the growth of the global tutoring market include low teaching standards in some educational institutions, increasing competitiveness of school and university entrance criteria and student interest in subjects outside of standard careers or curricula.

“The private tutoring industry is highly fragmented and inefficient. We are making tutoring more affordable by radically reducing fees and offering a more transparent service, while ensuring the highest quality and safety,” says Matthew Henshall, CEO and Co-Founder of SkillUp. “We are excited to be part of the Knife Capital portfolio of venture capital investments and to draw from the team’s experience in guiding early stage businesses to sustainable growth paths and pursuing successful internationalisation strategies,” said Henshall.

SkillUp offers an enticing value proposition as an investment opportunity for Knife Capital. “Apart from its highly scalable business model and potential exit opportunities down the line, this deal integrates the interests of different stakeholders for the greater good,” says Keet van Zyl, Investment Partner at Knife Capital. “The concept of ‘conscious capitalism’ underpins some of our core values at Knife, and SkillUp leverages technology elements to enhance real-world engagement in the education space – making a meaningful positive impact on people’s lives”.

Student and Adult learning platforms are showing increased course uptake and completion rates where tutors are used to support learners during their studies. SkillUp’s growth focus is to create a worldwide tutor support network and becoming an outsourced tutor pool to online platforms.

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