SA ed-tech startup Valenture Institute raises $7m funding for global growth

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South African startup Valenture Institute, a tech-enabled high school launched last year by GetSmarter co-founder Rob Paddock, has secured US$7 million in funding for growth globally.

Paddock, who exited GetSmarter to Nasdaq-listed 2U in 2017, launched Valenture Institute in January 2019, offering a curriculum recognised by the world’s leading universities.

Already established as a fully-fledged online offering pre-COVID-19, the forced shift to online during lockdown has apparently further accelerated the school’s growth. Its aim of becoming the biggest online high school in the world by 2028 has now received a boost after it raised US$7 million from GSV Ventures, an early-stage venture fund that focuses on learning and talent technology.

The funding will be used to further roll out Valenture Institute’s hybrid, tech-enabled, boutique campuses , which combine online learning with in-person guidance by learning coaches. The school already has three South African boutique campuses opening in January 2021, in Johannesburg and Cape Town, and is now targeting global destinations like London, Boston, and New York.

“The global demand for high quality online schooling is skyrocketing in the current climate. We are absolutely thrilled to be partnering with the GSV team, who have already added immense value to our business through their knowledge, connections and strategic guidance,” said Paddock.

“We’re scaling up rapidly, and look forward to working with the GSV team to achieve our goal of becoming the largest and most impactful school on the planet.”

Deborah Quazzo, managing partner at GSV Ventures, said Valenture Institute’s vision was clear.

“It’s not about their online experience or blended-learning boutique campuses, it’s about evolving education in a way never seen before,” she said.

“We back companies we know have the potential to change the narrative of education. In this case, the Valenture team has the grit, know-how and innovative spirit to change the way we educate all learners around the globe in future – be that primary, secondary or at tertiary level.”

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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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