Sydney-based virtual reality edutech startup Academy Xi has secured $2.25 million from Perle Ventures and Alium Capital a Series A funding round that will help fund an expansion into Singapore.
The funding follows a $250,000 seed round raised last year from Muru-D co-founder and CodeClub chair Annie Parker and innovation consultancy Vivant.
Academy Xi originally set out to raise $4 million in its Series A round, but decided to scale this back due to the postponement of its “VR education platform” until next year.
“We wanted to narrow down and focus on developing our core business and focus on expansion and development,” co-founder Ben Wong told StartupSmart.
Academy Xi runs courses for startups, corporates and individuals wanting to learn about virtual and augmented reality. It aims to address the upcoming skills gap in technology and give students the practical skills to pursue new career paths. Corporates such as ABC, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Staples and Lendlease have all trained staff at the school.
The investment is expected to deliver 1,300 skilled people into the Academy Xi community over the next 12 months, while also teaching 8,500 students in shorter classes, workshops and courses.
“By 2020, we expect to train at least 200,000 people in high demand fields of design and emerging technology,” co-founder Charbel Zeaiter says.
Founders Wong and Zeaiter plan to use the Series A funds to expand into Singapore and build a team in their newly-established Melbourne location.
“We are going to start laying the foundations for Singapore later this year,” Zeaiter told StartupSmart.
He says the funds will be used for “part team growth, part physical expansion, part online platform”.
Wong hopes to capitalise on the raise to “reach global markets with our platform and expand global corporate training partnerships”.
He notes that maintaining relationships with strategic investors was key to the startup’s successful Series A raise.
“It’s all about finding investors that understand the business you’re doing, as well as being able to find investment partners that want to grow with you,” Wong says.
“They have the foundations, the networks, and the understanding of the business,” he says.
For any startups looking to their own Series A raise, Charbel has some simple advice: “Be prepared”.
“Series A is a serious stage for a startup — you’ve proven the model, proven it’s viable,” Charbel says.
“Startups should be mindful that all the procedures and systems need to be in place so that … the investors have the information they are looking for, and the piece of mind to invest in the founder
“Startups should be working on this even before seed [funding],” he says.