Micro-learning startup Ed App secures $4 million from SafetyCulture to change workplace training around the world

Ed App

Ed App founder and chief Darren Winterford. Source: Supplied.

Corporate ‘micro-learning’ startup Ed App has secured $4 million in capital from workplace safety company and fellow Aussie Software-as-a-Service startup SafetyCulture.

SafetyCulture founder Luke Anear is also set to join the Ed App board.

Founded at the end of 2015 — with the product launched early the next year — Ed App wants to redesign workplace learning.

Founder and chief executive Darren Winterford tells StartupSmart the platform moves corporate training away from learners simply “sitting in front of a desktop pressing ‘next’”.

It uses a mobile-first approach, delivering training in a way that feels more like a consumer experience than a business-to-business platform, and allows corporates to get tailored content onto the platform and out to learners within a day, meaning businesses can be “super agile”, Winterford says.

The micro-learning concept breaks training down into small chunks, meaning learners can digest information in moments of down-time and in short, sharp bursts.

Finally, gamification of learning on the platform is intended to improve engagement rates. In fact, Winterford claims traditional workplace courseware has around a 15% engagement rate, whereas Ed App has engagement rates of more like 80%, he says.

The startup is used by “hundreds of companies” in 24 countries around the world, Winterford says, including large Fortune 500 and FTSE 100 companies that provide “the largest opportunity for us to have a wide impact”.

Currently, around 35,000 lessons are completed on the platform on a daily basis, he adds.

Belief in the vision

The $4 million funding is Ed App’s first bout of outside capital, and while the funds are welcome, Winterford is also “enormously excited” to have SafetyCulture founder Luke Anear involved in the company.

It was Anear that initially approached Ed App, and “we were really excited at the prospect of having him on board”, Winterford says.

“[SafetyCulture] have been through a lot of this before; they have a global customer base, they’re absolutely successful at what they do and enormously respected,” he adds.

While having the funding is a boost, Anear also brings significant experience to the table, Winterford says.

SafetyCulture has grown from 85 staff to more than 200 within the past 12 months, and in May this year raised $60 million in Series C funding, led by New York investment firm Tiger Global Management in a round that also included Blackbird Ventures, Index Ventures, Morpheus Ventures and Atlassian co-founder Scott Farquhar.

“Having brought Luke onto the board we now also have experience. We also have an investor who 100% believes in our vision, who has experience in making it happen,” Winterford says.

The funding itself is pegged for accelerating Ed App’s international growth. With between 40 and 50 staff in offices in New York, Sydney and London already, “80% of our revenue is already outside of Australia”, Winterford says.

“We’re very much born global,” he adds.

However, the funding will allow the business to expand into Asia, and to develop its product offerings and build up its engineering team.

“Our engineering team is one of our points of difference,” he says.

A global approach

Winterford advises other startup founders to think globally, and to focus on solving a particular problem. If it’s a real issue, it will be happening all over the world, he says.

“It’s really important to understand the fundamentals of that problem and be able to think about the solution with a real global approach,” he adds.

“For us, it was important not to be constrained by geography.”

Winterford also stresses the importance of having a good investor on board, rather than simply accepting funding for funding’s sake.

“I was always counselled to be very intelligent about where the source of funding came from,” he says.

“There’s a very large difference between taking an investment and taking some smart investment, or a strategic investment,” he adds.

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