The Hungarian start-up making language acquisition easy

BOOKR, a Hungarian literacy edtech start-up, receives more than two million euros in funding.

BOOKR Kids, a Hungarian reading skills edtech start-up, has received two million euros in VC funding and a further two million euros in convertible notes. The funding round was led by Bonitas, a private venture capital fund owned by the Hungarian billionaire and chairman of the OTP Group Sándor Csányi.

The company plans to use the funding to bring its English e-learning literacy platform BOOKR Class to the global market and boost its goal of mitigating the impact of Covid-19 on the world’s education systems.

BOOKR Kids creates interactive animated picture books with built-in edutainment games designed to enhance the development of oral and written language skills. All of the content follows the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Skills for 2030 framework, based on classic and modern literature that help nurture the emotional and social skills of pupils.

Founded in 2015, the start-up began by digitising existing Hungarian bestsellers before slowly transitioning into edtech. Eventually, it teamed up with international education experts like former LEGO executive director Brian Baptista, and Zoltan Pompor, president of HUBBY, to add functions to its animated stories that cultivate reading and development skills.

With the help of the new investment, the start-up is now planning to develop more innovative content for its platform and a more comprehensive curriculum that includes 21st century skills. In order to make language acquisition easy, BOOKR Kids’ interactive e-books follow a well-researched methodology. The texts and activities are designed to support both individual and classroom learning. And while the e-books are animated, the animations are purposefully made to be not distracting so the focus of the children is not drawn away from reading. Then there are the games which highlight the main linguistic elements of the text for a more focused and intentional mode of learning.

The company says that in addition to literacy, their e-books also help with fostering creativity, communication, collaboration, and critical thinking.

Just like for a lot of other edtech start-ups, 2020 was a turning point for BOOKR, as countries around the world had to close down schools in an attempt to control the spread of Covid-19. During lockdown, school systems had to adapt quickly to learning from home, and this is when digital e-learning platforms really came into their own, showing the usefulness and importance of their solutions.

“Traditional and online education will continue merging, and a hybrid model will be the new norm of the future. Our mission is providing high quality educational content which supports literacy in a way that is accessible for children so they can have more quality screen time,” says BOOKR founder and CEO Dorka Horvath.

During school closures in Hungary, BOOKR Class was recognised as a textbook and is now used by more than 100,000 Hungarian pupils.

The next stop for the start-up is the United States. BOOKR is currently developing a digital library app for the publishing house Albert Whitman & Co. as well as an educational platform for children and families.

After a year of negotiations, BOOKR has also started working with Oxford University Press, one of the world’s best known textbook publishers, allowing the start-up to digitise and redraw a selection of classic stories adapted specially for English learning such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes series.

Currently, the company has educational partners in Turkey, Greece, Spain, South Korea, Singapore, Germany, and in the US. BOOKR is also looking to expand to the MENA and LATAM regions. The firm’s revenue for 2019 was 500,000 euros, which the company predicts will increase to about one million euros in 2020.

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