Zen Educate, an online marketplace that matches the best teachers in algorithmic schools, has raised $19.3 million ($21 million) in a Series A funding round.
In the year Founded in 2017 from London, Zen Educate is aiming to replace the traditional approach to recruiting teachers, which typically involves third-party agencies and high fees. On top of that, working with agencies often involves analog workflows, with paper-based schedules and phone calls the order of the day.
“Those agencies are incredibly expensive – the average UK education employer has a 30 to 35% margin,” Zen Educate founder and CEO Slava Kremerman told TechCrunch.
By cutting out these expensive middlemen, Zen Education promises to reduce the costs and administrative hassles of hiring supply teachers as well as full-time teachers and teaching assistants through a self-service platform that enables teachers and schools to manage their own resources. His own profiles. But it is. It is not completely free as the company claims to use its own proprietary technology Conduct “extensive background checks” on teachers during the registration process.
The main advantage of Zen Education is that it serves as a filter that algorithmically selects the most suitable teachers based on various criteria.
Instead of looking at the universe of teachers and randomly ‘guessing’ which roles to assign, schools can look at an algorithm-generated list based on availability, skills, proximity, individuality and previous role feedback, among many other factors,” Kremerman said.
Schools can also create “favorite” lists of the most suitable teachers, so they can pool substitutes who have performed well based on previous experience and easily rebook when the situation calls for it.
Show me the money
Cramerman’s company broke down the UK government’s self-reported school finance data, and found that schools spend £2 billion ($2.2 billion) on temporary staff each year, of which £600 million ($662 million) can be taken in agency fees. And it’s these fees that Zen Educate wants to reduce, but not eliminate entirely.
In fact, Kramerman says his company charges about a 15-18 percent markup for each hour or day booked on each platform. And it claims to have saved the UK education sector £10 million ($11 million) in “wasted recruitment agency fees”.
“There’s a spread between what the teacher is paid and what Zen teaching costs the school — the school saves money, and the teacher earns more,” he said.
Until now, Zen education has served schools mostly in London, England. Although Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol and Leeds have been soft-launched in the US since Minneapolis in March, Kremerman says they are currently covering about 7,000 hours of teaching per month. And with another change in the bank, it’s well-funded to expand further into the US market, starting in Houston, Texas later this month.
Despite technology-focused efforts to challenge the agency-based system in the UK, nothing significant has been achieved. And there are major players in the US, such as human capital management platform Frontline Education, which is currently changing ownership between two private equity firms as part of a $3.7 billion transaction. Elsewhere, Swing Education is doing something similar to Zen Education, though with a different focus on substitute teachers.
Regardless of the competition, with an estimated 1.2 million substitute teachers in the US alone, there is more than enough room to host a technology-enabled marketplace that will bring teacher-school matches into the 21st century.
“The best model is to imagine you’ve used Uber, and it shows you a list of all the taxis in London — but they still don’t tell you if they’re working, if they’re available, where they are or what kind of car,” Kremerman said.
Zen Education has previously raised around £9.4 million ($10.4 million) in funding in various rounds, the most recent being a £6.8 million ($7.5 million) series of rounds spread between 2019 and 2020. Now, the company is adding a further £19.3. million to the pot, taking its total funding to £28.7 million, with backers including edtech-focused VC firm Brighteye Ventures, Adjuvo, Ascension Ventures, and a slew of angel investors.
In addition to market expansion, Kramerman The new cash injection will be used to double the number to 200 in the next six months and to hire some existing staff in the market, he said.