London edtech founded by GCSE students raises £5m investment
The company behind a suite of school learning tools used all over the world has revealed plans to create jobs and expand with £5m funding.
Firefly, first developed by Simon Hay and Joe Mathewson as they prepared for their GCSEs, will use the seven-figure investment to strengthen its presence among UK-based independent and state schools.
To accommodate its growth strategy, the London-based firm intends to take on 20 new staff over the next 12 months.
Downing Ventures led the funding round, which drew participation from BGF and Beringea.
According to Firefly, its software suite has the potential to slash school administration by 50%. It directly connects teachers, students and parents as they share lesson plans and assign or review homework.
Today, the platform supports more than a million students, teachers and parents across 40 countries. In the UK it is used by over 50% of students at independent senior schools.
Joe and Simon created Firefly in 1999 while they were getting ready for their GCSEs, but it wasn’t until 2009 that they established the venture as a full-time business.
Simon Hay said: “At Firefly, our ambition is to supercharge the school experience, so every student can reach their potential.
“This investment will enable us to move more quickly towards empowering teachers, students and parents, adding to the hundreds of thousands using the tool every day.”
He continued: “Downing’s experience in the edtech sector caught our interest, as well as its work with other fast-growing companies that make a difference, and we’re looking forward to working with James and the Downing team on our own expansion plans.
“BGF and Beringea have been fantastic partners over the past couple of years, and we’re delighted that they’re also doubling down to further support this next stage of growth.”
Downing Ventures investment director James Lewis commented: “The EdTech sector is an exciting but challenging place.
“On the one hand, it can be highly competitive, with the UK spending an estimated £1 billion on EdTech. However, at the same time, it’s also a very fragmented market.”
He added: “Firefly’s relentless focus on developing products that can make a tangible difference for teachers, students and parents has secured them a market-leading position among UK Independent schools.”
BGF head of venture investments Simon Calver, a member of the Firefly board, said: “Firefly has built an effective, easy-to-use tool that connects teachers, parents and students and ultimately enhances the education experience for young people.
“The team continues to drive growth on an international scale since BGF’s original investment and we’re looking forward to being part of this exciting next stage of their global journey.”
Beringea managing partner Stuart Veale, who is also on the Firefly board, commented: “Firefly has demonstrated its ability to build a platform that transforms the educational experience of thousands of students around the world.
“Beringea has supported this latest round of funding to enable the business to build on this success and accelerate its growth as a global leader in education technology.”
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