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Upskill completes pre-seed funding by 3 female investors

  • Published at 08:48 am August 23rd, 2020
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In 2018, Upskill launched their learning platform with video lessons, adopting similar business models like Edx or Coursera

Upskill, a Bangladeshi edtech startup, has raised an undisclosed amount in pre-seed funding. The fund has been raised entirely by three female investors in Bangladesh.

The funding, led by SBK Ventures, English Essence and the founder of The Legal Circle law firm, will be utilized by Upskill to support product development, strategic hiring, and further investment in scaling up the current business, said a statement on Sunday.

Upskill concentrates on Bangladesh’s current skill gap in the market as an opportunity to strategically develop an online learning platform, where experts can teach on a given subject that our universities or traditional training institutes are not currently addressing.

“I’m super excited. While the impact of investment in edtech is very attractive post Covid-19, I was attracted to Uspkill solely because of the founders - their passion, grit and resilience. They have the ability to execute with minimal resources. This trait is a very important aspect when it comes to venture investment in Bangladesh, where funding in general is hard to secure,” SBK Tech Ventures Founder and CEO Sonia Bashir Kabir said in the statement when asked about the investment.

The founders of Upskill – Mustafizur Khan, Fayaz Taher and Samad Miraly – have been active in the local startup ecosystem since 2013 by firstly being angel investors and secondly as the operator for the country's first accelerator program and recently as partners at a local VC fund, the release added.

In 2018, Upskill launched their learning platform with video lessons, adopting similar business models like Edx or Coursera. In addition to their online video lessons, Upskill launched a physical training space in Banani. 

“I have closely worked with the founders while serving as a mentor at an accelerator program. Now, when the opportunity came to invest in their latest venture, I felt it was a bet I was willing to take that can make a change in Bangladesh in the learning sector. I am looking forward to investing in the next round again,” said Legal Circle Co-founder Anita Gazi. 

The startup focuses on delivering courses in mainly four technical areas like digital marketing, data science, data analytics and tech business. In the last 1.5 years, it has on-boarded over 45+ trainers, trained over 2500+ participants and paid these independent trainers more than Tk10,00,000, added the statement.

When Covid-19 struck Bangladesh; the Upskill team moved their training 100% online and saw both its revenue and its user base increase over time, the statement said.

“Education has been a passion project for me. And I see Upskill to bring the same kind of dis-ruption in online learning that the founders did with their earlier venture with Startup Dhaka for the local startup ecosystem,” said English Essence CEO Zinia Chowdhury, also a director at Masafi Group and an active angel investor.

During the Covid-19 crisis, Team Upskill witnessed a digital gap with learning tools in the education space so it quickly developed and launched a new product in June, called Upskill Class-room. The product is similar to the Google Classroom, with additional features customized by taking into consideration the needs of local teachers and students.

Upskill founder Mustafizur Khan said: “At the centre of our strategy is to develop a self-serving, trusted Edtech brand in Bangladesh that offers ease of use to users and analytics to practitioners who teach through our platform. We pivoted multiple times in the past year fol-lowing a lean business model to address learning at scale in the context of Bangladesh.”

“The experience of serving paid customers and traction in sales provided us enough confidence to secure investment from an all female investors group who believed in our vision to disrupt Edtech space in Bangladesh,” he added.

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