Cherry Tree & Associates | June 2019 | Volume XIII, Issue 12
Illuminate Education Acquires FastBridge Learning

FastBridge Education, developer of computer-adaptive test for math, reading and social-emotional well-being, was acquired by Illuminate Education, provider of K-12 data and assessment software backed by Insight Venture Partners. FastBridge reportedly has a footprint with two million educators and students across 45 states.

Cherry Tree & Associates served as exclusive investment banking advisor to FastBridge in the transaction
Reflection Sciences Raises $1.3 Million 

Reflection Sciences, founded by Dr. Stephanie Carlson and Dr. Phil Zelazo to provide professional development, training, and tool that enhance the performance of executive function skills for children from two years of age and up, raised $1.3 million in a seed round. The round was led by Edmentum and joined by the University of Minnesota’s Discovery Capital Fund.
Goal Structured Solutions to Acquire Skills Fund 

Goal Structured Solutions, announced that it will acquire Skills Fund, a provider of student loans to students primarily in the fields of coding, cybersecurity, and other technology-focused programs. Skills Fund has reportedly provided almost $150 million in loans to over 10,000 students.
BetterUp Raises $103 Million

BetterUp, a networking platform that connects employees with expert career and leadership development coaches online, has recently completed a series C funding round, securing $103 million. Participants in the round were Threshold Ventures, Freestyle Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Crosslink Capital, Tenaya Capital, and Silicon Valley Bank. BetterUp has raised approximately $43 million in venture capital funding since 2012.
Bright Scholar Acquires Bosworth and St. Michaels

Bright Scholar Education, the largest operator of international and bilingual K – 12 schools in China, announced the acquisition of St. Michael’s School and Bosworth Independent College in the United Kingdom for GBP 38 million. Bright Scholar expects the transactions to close in September 2019.
Climb Credit Raises $9.8 Million 

Climb Credit, a student lending company providing affordable financing for career-skill programs, has raised $9.8 million in a series A round led by Third Prime and New Markets Venture Partners.
OutSchool Raises $8.5 Million  

A marketplace of live online classes for K – 12 students, OutSchool raised $8.5 million in a series A funding round. The round was led by Union Square Ventures and Reach Capital.
MentorcliQ Raises $6.3 Million

MentorcliQ, the relationship-based employee development platfrom for driving employee retention, raised $6.3 million in growth capital led by existing investor, Plymouth Growth Partners.
Pillar Raises $5.5 Million

Pillar, an app that connects students with their student loan services and banks, and then makes financial suggestions based on the amount of debt, their income, and their spending habits, raised $5.5 million in seed funding backed by Kleiner Perkins. Pillar’s solutions claims to help their users manage over $50 million in student loan debt.
Osmosis Raises $4 Million

Osmosis, a provider of online education targeted on developing health professionals to meet the growing market demand, raised $4 million in new funding. The round was led by Felicis Ventures, including Greycroft, Coverys, FundRx, Figure 8, Social Starts, and LearnStart. Osmosis reportedly has over one million subscribers on YouTube and half a million registered users for its supplemental educational videos.
Homeroom Raises $3.5 Million

Homeroom, a provider of software for after-school program organizers to help schedule classes, organize sign-ups, and track payment, raised $3.5 million in seed capital. The round was led by Forerunner Venture, and included Felicis Ventures, Precursor Ventures, Kapor Capital, and several other angel investors.
Hoonuit Acquires DecisionInsite

A leading provider of data management, analytics, and professional learning solutions in education, Hoonuit, has announced the acquisition of DecisionInsite. DecisionInsite is a provider of enrollment analytics and geographic information system technology. Hoonuit and DecisionInsite claims to collectively serve almost 15,00 education agencies and support over 16.5 million students nationwide .
ACT Acquires Mawi Learning

ACT, a non-profit learning, measurement, and navigation organization for the ACT test, has announced the acquisition of Mawi Learning. Mawi Learning uses evidence-based social and emotional teaching and learning approaches to enhance students’ educational experiences
Edquity Acquires BridgeEdU  

Edquity, a company that provides a suite of college financial success technology platforms, has acquired BridgeEdU, a company focused on reducing the barriers to college access and improving the completion percentage for underserved students. BridgeEdU has reportedly provided services to more than 600 students.
Knowbox Raises $150 Million

Knowbox, an online platform provider for homework, test, games, and contests raised $150 million in a series D round through Aliababa. Knowbox is based is Beijing and has stated that its platform is utilized by 70% of China’s primary schools and has 3.7 million active users
iRobot to Acquire Root Robotics

Root Robotics, a creator of a robot designed to draw on whiteboards and other surfaces, scan colors, play music, and following coding instructions was acquires by iRobot, in an effort to expand their solutions in the education market.

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Unacademy Raises $50 Million

Unacademy, the online exam-prep platform based in India, raised $50 million in a series D round led by Steadview Capital, Sequoia India, Nexus Venture Partners and Blume Ventures. Unacademy has now raised a total of $90 million.

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WorkRamp Raises $8 Million

The San Francisco based firm that assists with employee onboarding and training through their platform, WorkRamp, raised $8 million in a series A round led by Bow Capital. Bow Capital was joined by Initialized Capital, Susa Ventures, and the Slack Fund in the series, which brings the total funding of the company to $10 million.
ReUp Education Raises $6 Million

ReUp Education, a company focused on providing support to colleges to re-enroll students who have dropped out, has raised $6M in a series A round led by TDM Partners and Hereditas Capital Management. ReUp has reportedly helped more than 8,000 students re-enroll in higher education programs since 2015.
Splash Financial Raises $4.3 Million  

Splash Financial, a start-up focused on refinancing student loans through its partnership with the Pentagon Federal Credit Union, has raised $4.3 million. The round was led by CUNA Mutual Group, a corporate investment arm of Northwestern Mutual. Splash has said that the funds will be used to expand their partnerships with banks and credit unions as lending partners to grow is geographical footprint.
Jaranda Raises $2.6 Million

Jaranda, a Seoul-based company focused on connecting families with teach who make home visits for tutoring and caretaking has raised $2.6 million in a series A round. Investors in this round were Kakao Ventures, 500 startups, Woori Bank, D. Camp, Daekyo Investment, and KEB Hana Bank. The company has stated that it has approximately 16,000 after-school tutors.
For-profit education comprises more than 5% of the roughly $1.3 trillion that is spent on education in the U.S. annually. Cherry Tree created the Education For-Profit 50 Index representing a group of publicly traded for-profit education companies. 
The For-Profit Education 50 Index consists of companies in the Pre-K-12, Postsecondary Education, Training and Development, and Education Products and Services segments for-profit education industry.
* EV= Enterprise Value
It has been a good year for the University of Minnesota, and the work that researchers have done there over the past thirty-plus years. This month saw the acquisition of FastBridge Learning by Illuminate Education, and raising of new capital for the University’s spin-out Reflection Sciences. This comes on the heels of Renaissance Learning’s acquisition of Early Learning Labs in April, and the acquisition of Flipgrid by Microsoft one year ago. 

‘What’s been going on up there?’ you might ask. As someone who has had a unique view to these exciting and innovative companies, I’ll try to explain. Disclaimer: I am not a psychometrician, and I’ll never give away anyone’s secret sauce. (And anyway given the former, the latter is probably impossible.) 

Minnesota has long been known for its leading education companies, and the list is too long for me to include here. Many of the recent acquisitions are focused on assessment, specifically Curriculum Based Measures (CBM), whose origins go back to 1985. CBM was designed to be a set of simple, efficient, standard procedures that are objective, allow for comparison of students to peers and to grade-level benchmarks, allow for repeated measurement, and show student growth over time*. They essentially tell educators if a child is on track or not on specific elements of a curriculum. That may sound like all formative assessment. Our take is that the reason educators are increasingly adopting CBM and solutions like FastBridge, is because they are easier to administer and less time-consuming, while providing actionable data, and maintaining academic rigor, validity, and reliability.
For a confidential conversation about your company's strategic alternatives for exiting, merging, acquiring, or obtaining venture financing, and how trends in education affect your prospects, please contact us at 952-893-9012

Prepared by:
Chad Johnson, Managing Director and Partner | 952.253.6010

Cherry Tree & Associates is a private investment banking firm headquartered in Minneapolis. Our firm specializes in serving middle market companies and their owners, whether private, public, or divisions of larger corporations.
Important Disclosures

The information included in this publication has been obtained from public sources, and is not based upon private or confidential Cherry Tree information. Cherry Tree gathers its data from sources it considers reliable. However, it does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information provided within this publication. Any opinions presented reflect the current judgment of the authors and are subject to change. Cherry Tree makes no warranties, expressed or implied, regarding the accuracy of this information or any opinions expressed by the authors. Officers, directors, partners of Cherry Tree and Cherry Tree proprietary investment funds may have positions in the securities of the companies discussed, and certain affiliates of Cherry Tree may recommend to specific clients the purchase and sale of securities discussed in the publication. This publication does not constitute a recommendation with respect to the securities of any company discussed herein, and it should not be construed as such. Cherry Tree or its affiliates may from time to time provide investment banking or related services to these companies. Like all Cherry Tree employees, the authors of this publication receive compensation that is affected by overall firm profitability. We undertake no obligation to update any information in this publication.  

The Education For-Profit (EFP) 50 Index is a hypothetical index, and does not reflect an actual investment portfolio. Comparisons between the EFP 50 Index and the S&P 500 are for illustrative purposes only. Correlations in performance information for the EFP 50 Index and the S&P 500 should not be relied upon as indicative of risks involved in owning or holding a portfolio of securities similar to the EFP 50 Index. Past performance should not be relied upon as indicative of future performance.