On its mission to serve all 200 million college and university students globally, Amsterdam-based edtech scale-up StuDocu (locally known as StudeerSnel), an online platform where students can share knowledge, has raised $50M (approx €41.1M) in its Series B round of funding from Paris-based VC firm Partech.
StuDocu aims to empower everyone to excel in their studies by providing the tools to students who want to study more efficiently.
Marnix Broer, CEO & co-founder of StuDocu, says, “This investment is proof that we’re on the right track and will ramp up our steep growth trajectory. With Partech’s scale-up experience on-board StuDocu is set up well for reaching even more students with even better products in the years to come.”
Use of the funds
The raised capital will help the company to further boost its growth as well as increase its workforce. The company currently has a team of 50 people and is aiming to hire 30 new talents in the roles including tech, product, design, marketing, and operations in the coming months. You can apply here.
Speaking about its expansion plans, in an exclusive interview with Silicon Canals, co-founder Broer says, “We will use this investment to speed up global growth by going double down on new and existing markets, expanding the product itself with new features and content, and investing in marketing to reach even more students faster. Besides that, we want to expand our team significantly by hiring new talent. We will also look at potential acquisitions. This all will help us on our mission to help all 200 million higher education students across the globe.”
Finding study resources – how StuDocu was born
The edtech platform was founded in 2013 by four friends, Marnix Broer, Jacques Huppes, Lucas van den Houten, and Sander Kuijk’s dorm rooms in Delft, Netherlands. As students themselves, they figured that collecting all useful study resources from their study friends could be done way more efficiently. And this is how the idea of StuDocu was born – an online platform where students can share their study materials – lecture notes, summaries and practice materials – to exchange knowledge with fellow students.
Marnix and Jacques asked their friends Lucas and Sander to build a website called StudeerSnel.nl, while they could gather the first pieces of content to fill the platform. For the first content, they collected summaries and lecture notes on a USB stick by stopping by other dorm rooms. “Some even gave them hard copy documents after which Marnix and Jacques copied the pieces during their side job as security guards in their university library,” reminisces Broer.
After finishing their studies, all four of them decided to take things more seriously and further build the company. Previous funding rounds raised in 2015, 2018, and 2019 kick-started its expansion to markets like Australia, Canada, Germany, the UK, and the US. And, according to Broer, this helped the platform become the international leader in the document sharing space.
Since then, StuDocu has served 15 million students at 2,000 universities across 60 countries.
Speaking about StuDocu’s business model, Broer explains, “We use a ‘Freemium’-model, which means that 80 per cent of our documents are freely accessible to anyone and the top 20 per cent content with the highest quality is ‘Premium’, which means they are behind a paywall. However, students can view these Premium documents also by uploading their own study materials, so they don’t have to pay. Although we use very student-friendly prices for our subscriptions, our business is doing very well.”
He also mentions that the company is currently doubling its revenues every year, and believes that it will continue to do so in the coming years.
Expansion and growth during the pandemic
Back in June 2020, amid the coronavirus lockdown, StuDocu announced that it will make their platform available for Dutch HAVO and VWO education, between elementary and college.
In a previous interview with SC, Broer told Silicon Canals that education was lagging behind significantly in the adoption of technology and that due to COVID, that gap was bridged a bit. “We saw that high school students are also more and more looking for sharing platforms like StuDocu. In the countries where we already launched the high school platform – like Spain – we saw immediate interest and a strong growth.”
In today’s interview, he says, “When the pandemic first really hit us we saw a decline in the traffic and usage of our website. However, we started to pick up in just a few weeks already which is probably when students felt things weren’t going back to normal anytime soon. After that we actually grew faster than ever, doubling both in terms of usage and revenue.”
In addition to extension to secondary schools, StuDocu also started offering a chat group function to share their study material as it saw that a large number of students did not receive sufficient guidance from the educational facilities themselves while studying remotely and felt very unproductive.
In an attempt to make it more productive, the company added Study Experts on its platform. Those experts included experienced teachers from TentamenTrainingen.nl. These teachers are involved in the chat groups so that they can answer all questions of students in a qualitative way. Studocu hopes that this could help make up for the shortage of guidance needed during distance learning.
A brief about the investor – Partech
Based out of San Francisco and Paris, Partech claims to be one of the most active VCs in the world, bringing together capital, operational experience, and strategic support for entrepreneurs at seed, venture, and growth stages.
Talking about StuDocu, Bruno Crémel, General Partner at Partech, said, “StuDocu is a platform already helping millions of students around the world, and we’re excited to partner with this talented team in their mission to make education more accessible to all. When we met the team at StuDocu, we were wildly impressed with their data-driven culture and by how much students really love using their services. We look forward to working closely with Marnix and his team as they accelerate StuDocu’s global expansion and develop even more innovative ways to support students in meeting their learning goals.”
In 2020, Partech invested in 82 startups across 24 countries in Europe, America, Africa and Asia.