A Sydney edtech startup on a mission to give more Australian students a fair go has secured $1 million in funding while still in beta.
1Scope is a platform for companies, universities and non-profits to share scholarships, work experience and training opportunities with students aged 12-25 around the country.
The funding from Sydney-based investment firm Aqualand Capital will be used to bring 1Scope out of beta and into an official launch by mid-2017.
1Scope founder and chief executive Christina Chun says many students around the country are missing out on important opportunities for career development and growth because this information is largely “scattered” online.
It’s a problem she struggled with as a high school student searching for opportunities like scholarships.
“I come from a disadvantaged background and the main thing I was looking for were all the free things I could go to,” Chun tells StartupSmart.
With 1Scope, Chun will aim to give students a “central hub” to discover and apply for opportunities with major industry players such as Google and the University of Technology Sydney.
The startup has also secured partnerships with Microsoft, Wesley Mission and the University of New South Wales.
Since launching in beta in August 2016, Chun says 1Scope has attracted more than 2000 students. She’s planning to make the platform an Australia-wide resource within two years and after this, the 1Scope team will look at global expansion.
“My overall vision for this is [to drive] equal access to quality skill-building opportunities for students across Australia,” she says.
Before launching 1Scope in beta, Chun secured the top prize at the University of New South Wales’ FounderLab competition and because she’s a non-technical founder, she was teamed up with an experienced tech developer for about three months to bring her venture to life.
“Prior to this, we took a really startup approach to product market fit,” she says.
Chun says the 1Scope team undertook demand and supply testing by visiting a number of high schools, speaking to principals and sourcing corporate and industry partners with relevant opportunities to meet their needs.
This was all done offline, she says, until the team reached “1500 students from at least 15 organisations” and decided it was time to create a tech solution.
“This all happened while I was still studying,” she says.
Raising $1 million while still in beta
Before meeting Aqualand Capital managing director Jin Lin through a family friend, Chun says FounderLab director Joshua Flannery had advised her to meet with investors for feedback on her startup and to identify gaps or areas for improvement.
Taking this advice on board, Chun says she pitched to many investors before landing the Aqualand Capital deal.
To help with this process, Chun developed her own “reference board” of advisors, which included Atlassian executive Jens Schumacher, to help with critical advice on negotiation, strategy, risk, and understanding clauses and terms in deal agreements.
Without them and a working prototype, she says the $1 million investment would have been an unlikely feat.
“I had to surround myself with people who had run large companies or done deals like these before,” she says.
In addition to the funding, Aqualand Capital will provide 1Scope with legal, marketing and financial advice as well as space at its Sydney office for 12 months.
“When we saw the potential for 1Scope to make a difference to the adults of tomorrow, together with the enthusiasm and skills of its founder, Christina Chun, we knew this was an initiative that required our support,” Jin Lin said in a statement.