SA’s The Student Hub raises $300k to launch learning platform

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South African e-learning startup The Student Hub has raised ZAR4.2 million (US$300,000) from three angel investors as it prepares to launch ERAOnline, an online educational support platform for university students.

The Stellenbosch-based The Student Hub launched in April 2015 as a platform for the buying, selling, and renting textbooks, but earlier this year pivoted into e-learning.

It has now received ZAR4.2 million (US$300,000) in funding in order to launch ERAOnline, from angel investors Maude Gliwa, Bill Paladino and Jacques Ludik. All three have joined the startup’s board, while The Student Hub aims to raise a total of ZAR20 million (US$1.43 million).

Co-founder Hertzy Kabeya told Disrupt Africa the funding will be used to roll out a new platform, ERAOnline, in February of next year.

“We have managed to sign up leading tertiary education publishers, including some international ones, and now we are in the process of getting TVET publishers on board,” he said.

“We are reinventing their e-books by creating study support for them, including tests, step-by-step solutions, storyboards, videos and more. So from next year students will no longer buy e-books that are just protected PDFs.”

Rather, The Student Hub will publish e-books with links to other resources, while students will also be able to react to content when they are confused or find it difficult. ERAOnline will allow them to send comments and messages to authors, publishers and peers, and every student will be connected with a subject expert to assist them when they get stuck.

“Publishers and lecturers will have access to customised user intelligence such as time students spend reading their books, where they get stuck, how they perform, and where they spend more time on,” Kabeya said.

He said the inspiration for the platform came from the fact publishers have experienced low digital solution adoption despite the money thrown at such platforms, mainly because they have been poorly implemented.

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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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