Safely curious

Online Education - Investment Opportunity

In a recent post, Rockfire examined new developments in the world of online education and mentioned Azoomee, the latest start-up from the entrepreneurial team that brought us renewable resource, Clean Energy Pipeline.

Both Azoomee and another online learning tool, Curiosity Club, were launched in April this year, both place emphasis on making learning enjoyable and entertaining and both are already raising capital for expansion.  There seems to be plenty of appetite for their offerings which are remarkably complementary.  Where Azoomee targets younger children, Curiosity Club is geared for the 9-14 year-old age group.

Azoomee, which means ‘safe place’ in Japanese – is just that.  An environment that teaches children to be “smart, safe and kind online”.   The product is a carefully selected, constantly updated array of content that is appropriate, engaging and entertaining.  This includes audio books, craft presentations and interactive games and comes with the blessing of the NSPCC whose partnership in the project provides a priceless endorsement to parents.  Further support comes from communications company O2 whose family tablets have Azoomee content pre-installed.  This is an exclusive arrangement and Azoomee’s is the only content given this national distribution advantage through O2’s 473 retail outlets.

Curiosity Club was founded by firm believers in the need to complement the national curriculum with an educational tool that sparks interest and provides life skills as well as knowledge.  Curiosity Club aims to offer something to stimulate every 9-14 year old at an age when they become easily disenchanted with study.  By providing a 3,000 year timeline and six disciplines: history, nature, science, sport, human rights and culture, the tool allows children to choose from 239,000 possible combinations as they embark upon their own “journey” through various challenges.  Along the way, they not only reinforce their numeracy and literacy but also develop memory, visualisation, communication, research and experimentation skills.

In the short time since its launch, Curiosity Club has been trialled at a range of schools in the UK and USA and the results have been “extraordinary”.  Teachers describe pupils as “really excited on a Wednesday when they come in [to a session of Curiosity Club] “.  One pupil says: “It’s all about the things that I find interesting”.  Increased self-confidence is another benefit: the founders cite the example of a very shy boy at a Midlands academy who has discovered a talent for technical draughtsmanship.

Both Azoomee and Curiosity Club are certain that they are on to something and have laid solid foundations for distributing their products: Azoomee through O2 and its retail outlets and Curiosity Club through schools that have already bought licences and plan to renew.

Both are planning to use the capital they are currently raising to finance, inter alia, their international expansion.  For Azoomee, this will include Europe and  the USA while Curiosity Club has already received interest in an Hispanic version.

Both are opportunities that are suitable for investors looking for some sustainable credentials to add to their financial returns.  If it’s social value you are after, stimulating children safely is as good a way to go as any.