EdTech startup Perlego gets $4.8m for its ‘Spotify for books’


Perlego, which describes itself as the ‘Spotify for textbooks’, has raised $4.8m (£3.7m) in a venture round.

ADV led the investment with participation from existing Angel investors, including Simon Franks, co-founder of Lovefilm; Peter Hinssen; and Alex Chesterman, founder of Zoopla.

The startup is founded by 25-year-olds Gauthier Van Malderen and Matthew Davis and seeks to give students and professionals unlimited access to hundreds of thousands of professional and academic eBook titles for £12 a month.

Perlego is already working with well-known publishers including Oxford University Press, Princeton University Press and Macmillan Higher Education. Publishers receive 65% of each subscription on a consumption basis.

The startup is also announcing a new partnership with Cengage Learning, credited with being of the world’s largest textbook publishers.

Funds raised will be used to grow the team and support the company’s growth across the UK and Europe as well as further develop its product.

Van Malderen, co-founder and CEO, commented: “Our mission is to make educational content accessible for all. In this digital age, we believe that anyone should be able to learn anything at any time. Knowledge should be more accessible, not locked behind sky-high price tags and tuition fees. We are delighted to have raised from such forward-thinking investors, to help us build the world’s online learning library.”

“Students prefer flexibility and choice over ownership and virtually every form of media have encountered this paradigm shift. With textbook prices having risen 847% since 1972 – over three times the rate of inflation – and the ownership model for textbooks largely broken, a subscription model for textbooks just makes sense.

“Publishers have also lost out due to second-hand book sales and piracy, so we help them regain market share in a scalable way.

“Currently Perlego has partnered with over 650 publishers, including 8 out of the top 10 leading academic and professional publishers.”.

Mike Dimelow, the CIO at ADV, went on to note: “In the past we all bought books but now we consume content digitally. Spotify has re-defined this consumption for music, Perlego will do the same for educational textbooks and professional learning. Its platform connects consumers to publishers and enables partial ownership, we feel this is a winning model. Consumers pay for what they read whilst publishers monetise content they commission.

“The team has already began working with the majority of the largest academic publishers and have validated their business model with a mass of users. We are excited to play a small part in helping to redefine this industry.”

Perlego joined Founders Factory’s EdTech accelerator programme this month. The programme is backed by Holtzbrinck Macmillan.