Top Hat continues pursuit to take traditional publishers digital with Bluedoor acquisition

Top Hat occupies four floors for its corporate office in Yorkville, Toronto. Source Top Hat.

Toronto-based EdTech startup Top Hat has acquired another education publishing company, recently closing a deal to purchase United States-based Bluedoor. The terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

“Our partnership has evolved into a perfect fit for Bluedoor to join Top Hat and strengthen our market position in the science disciplines.”
– Mike Silgadze

Top Hat, which offers an active learning platform, has focused this year on pursuing its strategy of bringing “traditional publishers into the digital age.” It’s a strategy the startup emphasized as one of its top goals as it raised a $72 million CAD Series D funding round in February.

Bluedoor is a privately owned, science-based publisher in the post-secondary market. The company’s college publishing group focuses on lab support in both print and digital formats in biology, chemistry, microbiology, anatomy, physiology, geology, physics, and astronomy.

The deal with Bluedoor comes three months after Top Hat acquired the higher education textbook businesses of Nelson Education, one of the country’s largest education publishers.

“Prior to the pandemic, we were already seeing the digital transformation of educational content,” said Mike Silgadze, founder and CEO of Top Hat. “The events of the last few months have drastically accelerated that shift to help students overcome heightened challenges associated with the cost, accessibility, and relevance of print textbooks.”

“Once the crisis has ended, both educators and students are not likely to forget the improved learning experience offered by interactive digital content,” Silgadze added. “Every traditional publisher needs a digital distribution strategy. Top Hat makes that possible, with the added benefit of a proven active learning platform designed to improve student outcomes.”

Following the deal, Bluedoor’s approximately 50-person team will join Top Hat, and more than 400 labs and course materials will be moved onto Top Hat’s courseware platform. Bluedoor’s materials will be converted into digital courseware on Top Hat’s platform and infused with interactive elements.

Top Hat told BetaKit the company started talking to Bluedoor in mid-2019 to transition Bluedoor’s content and combine its expertise with Top Hat’s active learning platform. The companies announced a partnership in February, and Top Hat become the exclusive partner for Bluedoor as well as for Fountainhead Press.

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In addition to disrupting the traditional textbook publishing market, Top Hat has also focused on tailoring its solutions to support the needs of students and educators amid the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting shift to remote learning.

Universities across Canada have looked at adopting a remote learning model and providing courses online for the upcoming Fall semester due to COVID-19 safety measures. According to a Top Hat survey conducted in May, approximately eight out of 10 higher education students said their online courses lacked the engagement of in-person classes.

In April, the company began offering a free version of its platform in addition to several new virtual classroom capabilities in an effort to support professors. Last month, the startup also launched a free communication tool that allows students and educators at high education institutions with digital spaces to easily communicate and collaborate.

“Bluedoor has a stellar reputation as an expert in educational content for the sciences,” said Silgadze. “Our partnership has evolved into a perfect fit for Bluedoor to join Top Hat and strengthen our market position in the science disciplines.”

Image source Top Hat via Twitter

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle is a Vancouver-based writer with 5+ years of experience in communications and journalism and a lifelong passion for telling stories. For over two years, she has reported on all sides of the Canadian startup ecosystem, from landmark venture deals to public policy, telling the stories of the founders putting Canadian tech on the map.

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