An Ottawa-based startup has secured more than one million dollars in seed funding to enhance its course development platform.
LearnExperts, founded in 2019 by Sarah Sedgman, raised $1.25 million from Sand Hill North, MaRS Investment Accelerator Fund, the Capital Angel Network, Maple Leaf Angels of Toronto, and the Georgian Angel Network.
With 20 years of experience working at tech companies such as Cognis, IBM, and Kinaxis, Sedgman wanted to disrupt the learning technology industry. She created a digital course creation platform powered by AI that automatically transforms existing content into an educational course.
“We combine AI and human logic to create courses fast, with a built-in advisor, so your courses look like an expert built them.”
Named the LearnExperts Artificial Intelligence (LEAi), users can start with digital materials (text, videos, photos) that already exist and convert them into an online training program with one click.
“We want to deliver exceptional value through course creation that feels like magic,” said David Dewar, vice president of technology and user experience at LearnExperts. “We combine AI and human logic to create courses fast, with a built-in advisor, so your courses look like an expert built them.”
With funding raised, the startup wants to accelerate its lead within the digital training solutions market.
The global e-learning market is experiencing rapid growth as it’s forecasted to skyrocket from $144 billion USD in 2019 to $374.3 billion by 2026. As the COVID-19 pandemic enforced shutdowns and self-isolation, online learning became the standard for most students to safely continue their education at home.
However, evidence has also shown that massive open online classes—or MOOCs—have seen a surge in enrollments during the pandemic.
MOOCs are free e-learning platforms that are accessible to anyone around the world. People can start and complete any program of their choice at their own pace. These courses are not required and its students are mostly people looking to learn a new skill or hobby.
Coursera, a company that offers MOOCs, saw 10.3 million enrollments in 30 days, 644 percent up compared to last year. The platform also received over five million new registrations during the pandemic and provided free access to their university partners for 3800 courses and 500 specializations, giving free certificates for some courses.
As its own industry, the MOOC market is currently worth $5.6 billion USD and is projected to grow at an annual rate of 32.09 percent until 2025.
In a 2021 study by Chris Impey and Martin Formanek, they found the biggest enrollment growth was seen in courses for technical skills like neural networks, courses for soft skills such as communication, and courses for hobbies and recreation.