Melbourne-based edutech startup Xplor has closed a $6 million Series A round to fund its global expansion plans, and its founder didn’t even need to prepare a pitch deck to secure the funding.
The funding round in the end-to-end tech solution for schools and childcare centres was led by Airtree Ventures.
The Xplor platform allows families to connect in real-time with their children’s education through photos, videos and activities, and provides a tech solution for school and childcare administration.
No need for a pitch deck
Xplor founder Mark Woodland says the funding round was completed without ever needing to approach investors.
“We were always going to fund it ourselves and let the business fund itself,” Woodland tells StartupSmart.
“We want to make sure the business is profitable and working. We went into it with that in mind and weren’t looking to approach VCs.”
But when Airtree Ventures co-founder Daniel Petre called the founder right before Christmas last year and quickly flew to Melbourne to meet with the team, a strong working relationship was formed, eventually leading to this round of funding.
“He stopped cooking Christmas dinner for his family and came down to see us – that’s the relationship they’ve built with our team,” Woodland says.
“That’s the relationship we continue to have each day.
“We never had to prepare a pitch deck – we’re just running the business. Building a global business comes down to having the best people around you to provide support and experience – people that can bring something to the table that I can’t.
“We weren’t looking for money, we were looking for experience.”
Building a sustainable business
Woodland says that for too many Australian startups, a large funding round is the end goal rather than a means to the end.
“A lot of people start startups for the sake of it instead of solving a problem and not thinking about the money,” he says.
“Money is nice but it’s not the reason you do this. I’m trying to build something that lasts, not something that’s here this week and then gone the next.”
The capital injection will be primarily used to “rapidly and madly” grow the Xplor team to handle the demand, with the platform now facilitating 4.4 million “connections” in their existing childcare centres and preparing to roll out 1000 new centres in Australia, the US, Malaysia and Singapore.
“Demand isn’t our concern – we have endless demand and endless funding,” Woodland says.
“That’s a great problem to have. Our biggest challenge at the moment is building our team.”
From personal experience
The entrepreneur came up with the idea from Xplor from his first-hand experience of working in a childcare centre with his mother.
“She quickly found out that she was spending 90% of her time doing administration,” he says.
“Her time was spent in the office, not doing what she was passionate about.
“I got into the education space with a very, very fresh pair of eyes and I quickly saw that a lot of the tasks I was doing could be done by technology.”
Woodland eventually build Xplor to handle these admin tasks like attendance, roles, communication with parents and the documentation of learning, while also providing families with updates about their children’s’ progress.
“The driver is making childcare better for families,” he says.
“The whole industry has forgotten what that actually means.”
In August last year Woodland launched the Xplor platform and began working full time on the startup,
“Initially we thought, ‘what have we done? There’s no-one on the platform’,” he says.
“But then a small group of eight centres signed up, then more after that and more after that. Then the floodgates opened.
“It turned out that our unique problem I was facing in a small childcare centre was the same problem everyone was facing around the world.
“We quickly changed Xplor from a small platform solving one person’s problems to a very large platform solving a very large amount of peoples’ problems.”
Ignoring the distractions
Woodland says that entrepreneurs need to focus more on the core, simple problem they are trying to solve rather than the outside distractions.
“A lot of startups need to go back to the start and forget the titles – just get out there, stop pretending and actually go do it,” he says.
“Stop creating problems to try to force solutions. Simple ideas are what it’s about.
“Money is hard, but true entrepreneurs don’t need to worry about money. It all comes down to passion and perseverance.”