Summary List Placement
When the pandemic forced many students into full-time remote learning last spring, people begun reconsidering the value of a traditional college education in its present form. This helped spur the growth of online education options across the educational ecosystem, not just to replace classrooms but to deliver virtual alternatives to every part of college life.
CB Insights referred to the phenomenon as the “Unbundling of Harvard.”
The 64 startups on this list that aim to replace or amend the traditional college or graduate school experience have raised at least $1.2 billion in funding this year, according to our calculations by public funding records in Crunchbase.
Among this list there are enough digital offerings for students to get an education, and all that it entails, without ever needing to step foot on a campus.
The companies are listed in order of total funding raised, according to Crunchbase.
Coursera: online learning from top universities
Total funding raised: $443.1 million (latest a $130 million Series F round in July 2020)
What it does: Founded by Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng, Coursera‘s online learning platform for higher education boasts 73 million learners from around the world. With a partnership base of more than 200 of the world’s top universities and industry educators, Coursera offers courses, specializations, certificates, and degree programs. Includes Coursera for Business for corporate training and Coursera for Government to train government employees.
Udemy: 130,000 online video courses
Total funding raised: $273 million (latest a $50 million Series F round in November 2020)
Chegg: study assistant platform
Total funding raised: $252.3 million pre-IPO; now listed on NYSE: CHGG
What it does: Student-first connected learning platform providing books, study guides, writing assistance, flashcards, math solvers, tutors, and internships.
Everfi: building crucial workplace skills
Total funding raised: $251 million (latest a $190 million Series D round in April 2017)
What it does: Digital education platforms and networks with programs for workplace training, financial education, higher education, and community engagement. Company seeks to bring together the public and private sectors to change how education is delivered and also equips learners with the skills they need to become tomorrow’s leaders.
Udacity: online tech training
Total funding raised: $235 million (latest a $75 million debt financing round in November 2020)
What it does: Online learning platform with a variety of programs, including data science, programming, business, artificial intelligence, autonomous systems, and cloud computing, among others. Services offered for individuals, enterprises, and government employees. Curriculum is designed with industry partners, and includes project-based, active learning modules.
MPower Financing: funding and supporting international students
Total funding raised: $229.5 million (latest a $9 million venture round in June 2020)
What it does: Student loans and funding for international students, through a partnership with investors and universities. System includes loans, scholarships, immigration support, and job search preparation services. Works with leading universities and schools in the US and Canada.
Grammarly: AI writing assistant
Total funding raised: $200 million (latest a $90 million round in October 2019)
What it does: AI-powered writing assistant that helps people with their writing, corrects mistakes, and helps writers find the perfect words in their text messages, emails, and apps.
ApplyBoard: pairs international students with ideal programs
Total funding raised: 242.6 million Canadian ($186.7 million)
What it does: Connects international students and recruitment partners to educational opportunities at institutions around the world. Students get matched and apply to programs and schools that align with their background, skills, and interests; schools diversify their campuses by attracting qualified students from countries around the world.
Duolingo: language learning through games
Total funding raised: $183.3 million (latest a $35 million Series H round in November 2020)
What it does: Language-learning app and platform that utilizes gamification to personalize lessons. The company provides a version specifically for schools and includes English proficiency testing for English language learners.
Handshake: job search tool for students
Total funding raised: $154 million (latest an $80 million Series D round in October 2020)
What it does: College career network that helps students and recent graduates find their next opportunity. Includes personalized job recommendations, virtual recruiting events, and a list of companies hiring. Students can sign up via an .edu email address.
Lambda School: ISA tech bootcamp
Total funding raised: $122.1 million (latest a $74 million Series C round in August 2020)
What it does: Online learning platform for data science and fullstack web development that uses an income share agreement (ISA) approach. Students pay no tuition upfront and agree to pay back 17% of their income post-graduation for two years, but only once they’re making $50,000 or more. If they don’t find a high-paying job after 60 months of deferred payments, they pay nothing.
Examity: secure and fair online exam proctoring
Total funding raised: $122 million (latest a $90 million private equity round in April 2019)
What it does: Online exam proctoring company. The learning validation system works with colleges, universities, employers, and certification providers to create secure, high-quality educational experiences — and to ensure that learners who “play by the rules” are honored for their work.
General Assembly: in-person and online coding bootcamps
Total funding raised: $119.5 million
What it does: Founded in 2011, General Assembly uses experiential education for in-demand skills, including web development, data, design, and business topics. Full-time, part-time, short-form, and on-demand courses are included, as well as free “learn to code” programs. Includes locations around the world, although at the moment all courses are conducted online due to COVID-19.
Top Hat: virtual classroom assistant for teachers
Total funding raised: $104.4 million (latest a $55 million Series D round in February 2020)
What it does: The Top Hat platform provides easy-to-use tools that let instructors engage a classroom, adopt, and autor next-generation interactive textbooks and create assignments on the fly with securely administered testing. Tools include virtual classroom streaming, lecture recordings, attendance, polls and quizzes, live chat and discussions, and labs, among others.
Course Hero: subscription to 40 million tutoring and study materials
Total funding raised: $97.4 million (latest a $70 million Series B round in August 2020)
What it does: For-profit online learning platform that enables students to subscribe or contribute their own resources to earn a Netflix-like subscription to more than 40 million course materials, tutoring, and support resources. More than 50,000 faculty have joined the educator community to share resources, collaborate with faculty in other fields, and develop new strategies for instruction.
ResearchGate: network for sharing and discovering research papers
Total funding raised: $87.6 million (latest a $52.6 million Series D round in February 2017)
What it does: A professional network for scientists and researchers, ResearchGate claims more than 19 million members from around the world who share, discover, and discuss research.
Graduway: virtual community of alumni, students, and prospects
Total funding raised: $75.8 million (latest a $60 million venture round in July 2019)
What it does: Graduway offers a virtual community that enrolls prospects, mentors students, engages alumni, and cultivates donors for colleges and universities.
zSpace: VR learning for sciences and tech
Total funding raised: $76.6 million (latest was $10 million in May 2019)
What it does: Learning system that teaches through augmented and virtual-reality experiences. The company supports a number of applications, including STEM, advanced sciences, conceptual physical science, K-12, career technical education, and post-secondary education. This includes certificate, undergraduate, graduate, and professional school levels.
OpenClassrooms: employment services and career coaching
Total funding raised: $69.7 million (latest a $60 million Series B round in May 2018)
What it does: OpenClassrooms is an online platform that offers top quality, education-to-employment programs and career coaching services for students around the world. The platform’s Career Paths include weekly, one-on-one mentorship sessions with a dedicated professional in each field, supporting students through their studies.
Brainly: collaborative study community
Total funding raised: $68.5 million (latest a $30 million Series C round in July 2019)
What it does: Students and others combine their strengths and talents to tackle problems together through Brainly. The site includes 350 million unique users monthly and more than 2,000 moderators that help students answer questions and give explanations for the answers.
Everspring: powering online university programs
Total funding raised: $63.5 million (latest a $3 million venture round in November 2020)
What it does: Platform builds online and hybrid courses that deliver engagement free from traditional constraints. Includes CourseBuilder for the Canvas learning management system and Atlas Publisher, a proprietary, mobile-first, online content platform.
Quizlet: quiz-based study materials
Total funding raised: $62 million (latest a $30 million Series C round in May 2020)
What it does: Free and subscription-based online learning platform that uses activities and games to help students practice and master what they’re learning. With a variety of different quizlets and subjects, students can use Quizlet to enhance what they’re learning in classes.
Pearson/Smart Sparrow: digital learning platform for educators
Total funding raised: $23.5 million prior to $25 million acquisition by Pearson in January 2020
What it does: Digital learning platform that lets educators deliver digital learning experiences that lead to better learner outcomes. Also includes studio services that help educational institutions with their digital-learning initiatives. With the acquisition, Pearson will use Sparrow to accelerate the rollout of its Global Learning Platform.
Codecademy: hands-on coding bootcamp
Total funding raised: $47.5 million (latest $30 million in July 2016)
What it does: Free and subscription-based platform that aims to teach people how to learn to code. From programming languages to subjects like web development, data science, machine learning, and even game development, Codecademy offers a complete catalog of offerings.
RedShelf: digital textbook provider
Total funding raised: $43.1 million (latest a $10 million venture round in October 2020)
What it does: With almost one million digital titles, RedShelf aims to provide textbooks at a fraction of the cost of physical copies. Books can be accessed from any device and includes built-in study tools, such as highlighting, notetaking, and creating flash cards.
Noodle: college or graduate school matching
Total funding raised: $36.3 million (latest an $8 million Series A round in January 2017)
What it does: Organization that helps students find the right school, college, or graduate program, along with the best path to get in and pay for it. The group partners with dozens of top universities, helping them use technology to lower tuition and improve access to their programs. The site brings together expert counselors, schools, real-time information, and helpful tools to manage the process from the first web search to the first day of class.
Academia.edu: free academic papers
Total funding raised: $33.8 million (latest a $16 million Series C round in March 2019)
What it does: Online platform that lets academics share papers with millions of people across the world for free. Users have uploaded 22 million papers, and more than 102 million academics, professionals, and students have read papers on the platform every month.
Babbel: language learning app
Total funding raised: $33.3 million (latest a $22 million Series C round in July 2015)
What it does: Language learning app, with millions of active subscribers. The courses are geared to teach language skills you can use right away, with a short path to real-life conversations. Offers lessons in 13 different languages.
Simplilearn: 400 online tech bootcamps and certifications
Total funding raised: $31 million (latest was $3 million in debt financing in September 2016)
What it does: Online bootcamp and certification training providers, with more than 400 courses and 2,000-plus qualified trainers. Topics include data science and business analytics, AI and machine learning, DevOps, cybersecurity, and IT service and architecture, among others.
mmhmm: virtual classroom app
Total funding raised: $30.5 million (latest a $21 million Series A in October 2020)
What it does: This app is a virtual camera application used to create virtual rooms, backdrops, and presentations during video-conferencing calls. From an educator’s standpoint, teachers can use this to create more interesting virtual classrooms. Premium services ($9.99 per month or $99.99 per year) are being offered free to students and educators for one year via verified school email addresses.
Fullbridge: bootcamps, online modules, and courses
Total funding raised: $27.9 million (latest $15.4 million in June 2015)
What it does: Aims to bridge the knowledge and skills gap between educational institutions and employers. Online platform includes short, powerful, and affordable learning experiences through bootcamps, online modules, and full-on courses.
irl: online college social events
Total funding raised: $27 million (latest at $16 million Series B round in September 2020)
What it does: Social planning application that keeps users connected with each other. The On Campus section lets you view and discover online college events (enabled via student email address). Follow friends, favorite TV shows, livestreamers, podcasters, and more while you’re stuck at home.
Jolt: subscription-based live classes
Total funding raised: $23.3 million (two seed rounds, Series A in January 2020)
What it does: Subscription-based business program with live, interactive classes taught by world-class experts. Classes are tailored to allow for discussions and group collaboration with up to 18 other professionals.
Hivebrite: alumni community management platform
Total funding raised: $23.1 million (latest a $20 million Series A round in January 2020)
What it does: An all-in-one software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution to help businesses build and manage their own community website. Education version allows universities to boost alumni placement statistics, facilitate fundraising, foster a sense of belonging, and offer real-time analytics about the alumni community.
InterviewBit: tech interview prep
Total funding raised: $21.5 million (latest a $20 million Series round in January 2020)
What it does: The platform assists programmers or recent graduates with a series of coding interview questions for different technologies or companies (including Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, and Google), as well as connects graduates to companies.
Busuu: language learning with personalized study plans
Total funding raised: €14 million ($16.7 million)
What it does: Language learning app with more than 1,000 lessons created by expert linguists, enhanced with machine learning technology such as personalized study plans and speech recognition. Connecting with native speakers gives instant feedback on written and spoken lessons. Offers lessons in 12 different languages
BibliU: eTextbook platform
Total funding raised: $16.2 million ($10.6 million Series A in April and August 2020)
What it does: Originally spun out of the University of Oxford Innovation Fund, London-based BibliU has developed a modern eTextbook platform that integrates fully with library and university systems to fill the gap in e-reading and e-distribution markets. With support from more than 130,000 universities in the UK and US, the system aims to give students easy tools for studying, including instantaneous search in content and images.
Class for Zoom (ClassEDU): virtual classroom software
Total funding raised: $16 million (seed round in September 2020)
What it does: Virtual classroom software developer that helps teachers initiate live assignments, quizzes, and tests for students. System aims to fill in the gaps between what teachers can do in live classrooms in a virtual environment, such as take attendance, host group presentations and one-on-one discussions, watch videos, and more. Currently in early access.
Osso VR: virtual reality training for healthcare professionals
Total funding raised: $16 million (latest $14 million Series A in September 2020)
What it does: Virtual-reality training platform that lets surgeons and other healthcare professionals learn and review medical procedures. The company says the platform is used by more than 20 teaching hospitals and 11 medical device companies across 20 countries. Johnson & Johnson Institute recently launched a partnership with Osso VR to provide headsets and systems to doctors around the world.
ABA English: 1,500 live English classes
Total funding raised: $15.4 million (latest a $12 million venture round in May 2016)
What it does: Online platform that teaches English with more than 1,500 live classes around the world for a flat rate. Founded in 2006, the company aims to reinvent how people learn English through the use of video. The platform combines technology with a unique natural method and human interactions with certified teachers and tutors.
Engageli: boosts and tracks student engagement online
Total funding raised: $14.5 million (seed round in October 2020)
What it does: Digital learning platform that enables higher education institutions to provide students with an inclusive and engaging learning experience while also integrating with existing learning management and student information systems. Built-in engagement drivers includes quizzes, polls, and content sharing. System tracks student activity both individually and as a group, providing instructors with insights in real time and after the class ends.
AstrumU: predictive career pathing
Total funding raised: $13.2 million (latest was $7.7 million Series A round in July 2020)
What it does: Aims to close the gap between education and industry by helping students, colleges, universities, and employers identify the most predictable pathways to take from education to high-impact employment. The company provides a predictive individual learning score for every lifelong learner so they can invest in educational experiences to maximize outcomes while opening up opportunities for everyone via a level playing field.
Teachable: 100,000 teachers and coaches
Total funding raised: $12.5 million (latest a $4 million Series A round in April 2018)
What it does: More than 100,000 creators use Teachable to share their knowledge. Teachable allows anyone to create an online course or coaching business with a powerful, yet simple, all-in-one platform. Learners can pay for courses or take free courses through the platform.
Podium Education: skills training in partnership with universities
Total funding raised: $12 million (Series A in October 2020)
What it does: Online learning platform that partners with colleges and universities to deliver online programs that provide soft-skilled students with in-demand hard skills for better employment opportunities. Offerings can be packaged as individual courses, summer bootcamps, full minors, or an online semester.
EduPristine: India-based online training and certification
Total funding raised: $11.5 million
What it does: Founded in 2008, EduPristine offers online training and international certifications in finance, accounting, analytics, marketing, and healthcare. Includes an online platform and network of classrooms across India and caters to self-paced learning, online learning, and classroom modes.
SV Academy: tech sales training
Total funding raised: $11.5 million
What it does: Looking to help empower underrepresented job seekers to forge a path into tech, SV Academy provides online tech sales training and fellowship opportunities.
AdmitHub: admissions chatbot
Total funding raised: $11.3 million (latest a $7.5 million Series A round in January 2020)
What it does: Student communication platform powered by artificial intelligence, the AdmitHub chatbots use natural language processing to help answer student questions for admissions departments at colleges and universities.
AMOpportunities: connecting medical students with clinical opportunities
Total funding raised: $10.2 million (latest a $4.4 million venture round in November 2020)
What it does: Connects medical students, graduates, and professionals with US clinical experiences. The platform gives opportunities to explore and apply for clinical experiences at more than 200 clinical sites across 70-plus medical specialties and subspecialties, and also provides support services, such as visa and housing assistance. Site also includes virtual rotations to train students in telehealth scenarios.
Kira Talent: standardized admissions tool
Total funding raised: $8.2 million
What it does: Holistics admissions platform for higher education that assesses applicants for program fit and key traits like leadership, critical thinking, and communication skills. Aims to give every applicant equal opportunity by building a standardized assessment that reduces bias in the admissions process.
Studyportals: international study platform
Total funding raised: €5.3 million ($6.3 million)
What it does: International study research platform that lets students find and choose university degree programs from anywhere in the world. Began as a spin-off from large international study associations and grew from there. Includes other portals, such as Bachelorsportal, Mastersportal, and PhDportal, among others.
Uwill: online counseling for students and university staff
Total funding raised: $3.3 million (September 2020)
What it does: Teletherapy for students and employees of colleges and universities. The service incorporates technologies that facilitate best-in-class video and message-based counseling within a secure environment. The goal is to create a two-sided platform that connects students with experienced mental health professionals for when the need arises.
Studapart: seamless student housing
Total funding raised: €2.3 million ($2.75 million); latest round in June 2018
What it does: Student housing rentals platform, with bookings from one to 24 months with certified lessors. Platform connects students with landlords to make the house and apartment rental process more seamless.
Iris.AI: artificial intelligence assistant for research papers
Total funding raised: $2.5 million
What it does: Via an artificial intelligence science assistant, Iris.ai uses natural language processing to review massive collections of research papers or patents for academia or research and development groups.
iPleaders: legal training
Total funding raised: Undisclosed funding in January 2019 and equity crowdfunding round in October 2019
What it does: Based in New Delhi, India, iPleaders offers more than 60 in-depth online courses through LawSikho.com and top universities. Legal courses for corporations are also offered to fulfill internal training requirements, as well as colleges that want to train students for the emerging needs of the legal industry.
Oxford Medical Simulation: VR medical training
Total funding raised: Two rounds of undisclosed seed funding (latest by Qventures in May 2019)
What it does: Virtual-reality medical training for students, doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals with headsets. Learners can practice in immersive, fully interactive clinical scenarios as if in real life, and receive personalized feedback. The NHS England diabetes team has partnered with the company to train doctors to practice VR medical emergencies to improve care for diabetes patients in the real world.
Reculta: campus recruiting tool
Total funding raised: Undisclosed seed round in June 2018
What it does: Digitizes campus placements for educational institutions and recruiters through a SaaS and controlled marketplace model. Through technology and data analytics, the platform seeks to connect multiple stakeholders with one platform, minimize recruiting costs, and record, track, and benchmark data to gain further insights.
Omegafi: creating efficient and effective Greek organizations
Total funding raised: Undisclosed private equity round (December 2015).
What it does: Tools for fraternities and sororities that help them optimize operational efficiency in order to build thriving, fiscally sound communities across generations of their memberships. The company strives to make fraternity and sorority chapters as well as national and international headquarters run efficiently and effectively.
Fullstack Academy: full-time and part-time coding bootcamps
Total funding raised: Undisclosed seed round funding in 2012
What it does: Offers full-time and part-time coding bootcamps in New York and Chicago. With COVID-19, the academy has moved to its online platform, with live instruction and project-based curriculum. The company aims to teach cutting-edge software development in 17 to 28 weeks to give users the skills to get hired as a software engineer.
Law Dojo: study games for law students
Total funding raised: No apparent funding raised other than revenue from the apps.
What it does: A family of legal game apps for law students and “legal aficionados” that let you learn about law in a fun way. Free, limited versions available, with full versions available via Google Play or Apple App Store. Began as a side project for Margaret Hagan when she was a second-year law student at Stanford Law School. Hagan learned how to code and wrote thousands of questions so she could play multiple-choice games to prep her for exams.
Congregate Communications: online networking and classroom tool
Total funding raised: Privately funded
What it does: Dynamic platform for online gatherings with the ability to host networking or breakout sessions and presentations through a single platform. Also includes end-to-end encrypted video calling, scalable to hundreds of event attendees. Also includes social app (Congregate Social) and virtual classroom (Congregate Classroom) versions.
OverDrive: digital library for schools
Total funding raised: Acquired from Rakuten Inc. by private equity firm KKR
What it does: Digital reading platform for libraries and schools worldwide. Aims to deliver the industry’s largest catalog of ebooks, audiobooks, and other digital media to more than 50,000 libraries and schools in 78 countries.
Meta ULC: research discovery tool for scientific papers
Total funding raised: Backed by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
What it does: A biomedical research discovery tool that provides a faster way to understand, organize, and explore science. Through machine learning, the tool can analyze, map, and cluster tens of millions of scientific papers and preprints, allowing researchers to follow developments or find emerging trends.
Facebook Campus: campus-specific social community
Total funding raised: n/a, part of Facebook
What it does: Launched as a college-only space designed to help students connect with fellow classmates over shared interests. Campus profile is separate from a student’s main Facebook profile, and students can discover Groups and Events unique to their school and connect with classmates who share similar interests. Content shared on Campus is only seen by other Campus members. Accounts verified by college email addresses.
Proctorio: automated software for ensuring academic integrity
Total funding raised: Privately held and funded
What it does: Learning integrity platform that utilizes facial detection (not recognition) and other automated software to ensure academic integrity for online courses and test takers. Includes ID verification, automated proctoring, content protection, secure browser settings, computer lockdown, originality authentication, and instant analytics.
Originally published at https://www.businessinsider.com/companies-disrupting-higher-education-college-grad-school-remote-learning-2020-12 on .