South African ed-tech startup Zelda is looking at expansion to other African countries and Europe on the back of raising an angel round and seeing strong organic uptake.
Founded in 2017, Zelda is a bursary management platform that helps organisations find and filter talented youth to support through university.
The platform combines personality assessments with machine learning to help students make more informed career decisions and improve their chances of success while studying, and helps companies make a positive impact on South African youth while creating a strong pipeline of talent for future hires.
Zelda was launched by Jasanth Moodley, Carla Wilby, and Dominic Schorr, three engineers who met at the University of Cape Town, in response to the growing discourse around university funding and access to higher education.
“We all had our own issues with higher education and decided to try make sure that other students didn’t face the same struggles. We noticed that one of the biggest gaps was the lack of personalised guidance – there are loads of articles on the internet that give advice, but very little that tells you as a students exactly what you’d best be suited to doing. We’re filling that gap,” said Schorr, now the startup’s chief executive officer (CEO).
“So where previously someone would have to fork out a couple of grand to see an educational psychologist and sit for three hours to take a psychometric assessment, we try and make that accessible to everyone. That’s not to say that those services aren’t useful or important, but not everyone can afford it.”
Now everyone can, they are taking advantage of it. Zelda has already had over 500 student downloads, without any marketing at all, and the potential of the platform has been spotted by many. It was accepted into the Injini ed-tech incubator programme essentially upon launching, securing funding and support, and closed its angel round at the end of last year.
“Having grown a tech-heavy team of eight engineers since starting, we’ve predominantly focused on the machine learning and career guidance platform for students,” said Schorr.
“With this latest round of funding Zelda will be focusing on sales and improving our client-facing services, leveraging the experience and networks of our investors.”
The startup has a three-tiered subscription model. Tier one has a zero monthly fee, with a substantial commission on successful placement of applicants, while tiers two and three have greatly reduced commission but higher monthly fees for added features. It is still early days, but Schorr and his team are confident of success, and planning expanding into other markets once they perfect their model in South Africa.