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How introduction from VC helped Zelda Learning land R500k in angel funding

An introduction from SA venture capitalist Andrea Bohmert has helped the founders of Cape Town edtech startup Zelda Learning secure the startup’s first angel round of R500 000 from three local angel investors, the company announced this week.

The startup, which runs a bursary management platform that helps organisations find and filter talented youth and fund their university studies, was founded in 2017 by three former UCT students — Carla Wilby, Jasanth Moodley and Dominic Schorr (pictured above, from left to right).

The latest funding round follows a R500 000 seed investment that the startup received in May, after joining the first cohort of Cape Town’s Injini edtech incubator in October last year.

Schorr told Ventureburn today that initially the founders had approached Knife Capital, where Bohmert is a partner, in search of venture capital (VC).

An introduction from venture capitalist Andrea Bohmert helped Zelda Learning secure its first angel round

However, being at too early a stage to tap VC funding, they then inquired with Bohmert if there weren’t any other investors or mentors they could speak to from Knife Capital’s network.

It’s then that Bohmert put Schorr and his co-founders in contact with several potential investors and mentors. At one time Schorr and his fellow co-founders were considering five investors to go with, but whittled this down to three, to make it easier to manage shareholders relations, he said.

Angels hail from different industries

The three angels they selected hail from different industries and will be supporting the company through its early growth period.

The three angels are: Bas Hochstenbach — a co-founder of Asilia Africa and angel investor for Skill-Up Tutors (he helped the startup to this year raise funding from Knife Capital; Frederik Gerner — a co-founder of Ampelmann Operations and partner at Forward.one venture capital group; and Justin Drennan — a co-founder of ParcelNinja and investor for Superbalist.

Schorr said the investment was in the form of a Simple Agreement for Future Equity (SAFE) — a contract between a startup and investors that enables the investors to make a cash investment in the company while giving investors the right to receive equity at a later date.

He confirmed that the three angels have not yet been allocated a stake in the startup and that the company aims to carry out a further funding round next year to raise “a couple of million rand”.

The announcement of the funding, comes after the startup was last Thursday (15 November) was placed second in the SA semi-finals leg of the Global EdTech Startup Awards, and will be travelling to the UK next year (along with the winners, Snapplify) for the finals.

Read more: Snapplify to represent SA at next year’s Global Startup Edtech Awards finals

Schorr, Wilby and Moodley founded the startup in response to the growing concern around university funding and access to higher education.

Their platform uses personality assessments combined with machine learning to help students make more informed career decisions and improve their chances of success while studying.

“We were at UCT during the height of #FMF,” commented Schorr, in an earlier statement. “Through conversations with management we saw that the universities would never be able to subsidise students’ education. We decided to try find another way to support higher ed, and figured the private sector was our best bet.”

‘Only generating small revenue’

Up to now the startup, with its team of six full-time and two part-time members, has spent most of its time focused on building its online platform.

As such, the startup is generating only a small revenue — from helping a small client run its leadership camp, said Schorr.

However, with this latest round of funding the startup intends to concentrate on growing sales and improving its client-facing services, with Schorr adding that the company has just signed on a client to carry out a pilot.

Investors will then be watching very closely to see if Zelda Learning gains traction.

Read more: Edtech incubator Injini selects 8 startups from across Africa for first cohort

Editor’s note (26 November 2018): We messed up. Initially we referred to Zelda Learning as “Zoltan Learning” in two instances in our initial story on the startup.

The error was introduced initially when the startup sent an image file named “ZoltanLearning” in what the startup’s co-founder Dominic Schorr later explained was part of a joke (“referencing the movie ‘Dude Where’s My Car'”) adding that “hilariously, that carried over into the article”.

Said Schorr: “Not sure if you want to keep that in there as a joke, but just confirming for future that we are in fact Zelda Learning”. Ventureburn has changed all references to “Zelda Learning”. Even though we too, have a sense of humour.

Featured image: Zelda Learning founders (from left to right) Carla Wilby, Jasanth Moodley and Dominic Schorr (Supplied)