End of the road for bus-born mobile learning startup Sterio.me

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African mobile learning startup Sterio.me, which was created during AMPION precursor StartupBus Africa in 2013, has closed down after failing to find a sufficient product-market fit.

Disrupt Africa reported last year on Sterio.me, which was born on the five-day StartupBus hackathon between Harare, Zimbabwe and Cape Town, South Africa the year before last.

The startup aimed to engage learners outside the classroom via mobile to reinforce in-classroom learning. A “sterio” is a pre-recorded interactive lesson delivered via an SMS-triggered inbound voice call to the learner, which is accessible to learners even with feature or basic phones and does not require internet access.

Sterio.me spent some time honing and building its product in Lesotho, with a view to rolling out in other African countries, but has now called it a day.

“Ultimately we couldn’t find product-market fit in a way that not only covered social impact – as many teachers wanted to use our platform – but also covered costs – via telecoms, ministries and other means – within the timelines these deals took to close and the runway we had available,” Sterio.me founder and co-chief executive officer (CEO) Christopher Pruijsen told Disrupt Africa.

“Our approach required more intense partnerships – with less easy market entry – and thus also increased our risk on this front.”

After its launch, Sterio.me was bootstrapped for nine months,but it eventually raised US$40,000 in funding from the Start-Up Chile accelerator as well as EUR15,000 (US$16,000) from the Cheetah Fund, a crowdfunding platform open to African innovators, which is sponsored by the Dutch National Postcode Lottery Fund.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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