A Polish start-up is now the world’s leading peer-to-peer learning platform

The shift to online learning caused by Covid-19 has been a boon for edtech start-ups such as Poland’s Brainly, which has just closed a major new funding round that will help it expand in emerging markets.

Brainly, a start-up from Poland that has built a popular network for students and their parents to engage with each other for advice and help with homework questions, has raised 80 million US dollars in a series D round. The new money will be used both to continue building out the tools that it offers to students as well as to boost expansion in key emerging markets such as Indonesia and Brazil.

Founded in 2009, Brainly has grown to become the world’s largest online learning platform and now has more than 350 million users each month.

Virtual learning goes mainstream

The Kraków-based firm has been a beneficiary of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has seen a major upswing in virtual learning, with many schools now operating remotely. Even in those countries where schools have remained open, they have nevertheless incorporated a strong online component to their operations in order to help communities maintain social distancing.

The new funding round was led by existing Brainly investor, Learn Capital, and includes Prosus Ventures, Runa Capital, MantaRay, and General Catalyst Partners. Total funds raised to date by the Polish start-up now top 150 million US dollars. The start-up’s last major funding came in July last year, when it raised 30 million US dollars in a round led by Naspers Ventures, with participation from Runa Capital and Manta Ray.

“We recognised that students require a peer-to-peer learning platform,” says Michał Borkowski, CEO and co-founder of Brainly. “The growth of this model has accelerated as a result of the global pandemic, forever changing the way students learn. Today, Brainly is the de facto resource for students and parents seeking help with homework from their peers and experts.”

“While Brainly has demonstrated a high rate of growth for years, over the past six months, we have achieved growth milestones that we had projected to hit over the next few years. We receive immensely positive feedback from students, parents, and teachers using Brainly, so there are no signs of this growth slowing down anytime soon,” adds Borkowski.

Since April 2020, the start-up’s user base has increased by more than 75 per cent.

Trusted channels

“Brainly has become one of the world’s largest learning communities, achieving significant organic growth in over 35 countries,” said Vinit Sukhija, partner at Learn Capital. “This growth is a testament to the strength of the community and a user experience that enables students and families to succeed given their varied learning needs. Learn Capital is excited to support the Brainly team as it executes on an ambitious product roadmap en route to becoming a household name, both in the United States and around the world.”

The mass transition to virtual learning caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has adversely impacted children across all age groups. A recent poll released by the National Parents Union, shows that the majority of students (58 per cent) are still studying virtually with reduced access to vital one-on-one instruction. The pandemic has underscored what was already known about learning — that students can only succeed when they have access to trusted channels to ask for help.

Borkowski says, “These funds will be used to accelerate growth and enable Brainly to deliver much-needed online educational resources to the hundreds of millions of students and parents around the world who have transitioned to online learning during the global pandemic, as well as those who attend school in-person but require additional help to complete their homework assignments.”

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