Learncafe: the elearning startup that aims to transform Brazilian education

study pair

Learncafe, as the name suggests, is a social place where people can learn and connect. Based in Brazil, the online company aims to connect students and teachers. In order to tackle the countries big appetite for education, elearning startups has been popping out in all corners of Brazil.

José de Menezes has been working on online projects anything from search engines to an online magazine company and a price comparison site. He notes that although he has worked on around 20 projects thus far, online education is where his true dedication lies.

The company was launched in September 2010 in Brazil and is aiming to expand internationally as it’s set to include English, Spanish and Mandarin in the near future. Menezes says that the company is currently in talks to expand internationally and has registered for more than 30 different website domains.

Learncafe offers hundreds of course certificates with titles ranging from popular topics such as business management and education to courses such as bodybuilding and dance. It describes itself as a distance innovative learning portal where any instructor can post online video courses. Teachers are encouraged to keep the costs of their courses low but is given the freedom of charging what they want.

What companies like Learncafe have learned is that by providing a platform where the demands of both the student and instructor are met and regulated, they stand the chance of tapping into an extremely lucrative business. The internationally popular site Udemy, for example, generally takes about 30 percent commission on courses that are sold and has more than 1 Million Students and 8000 Courses. Forbes has written an article suitably titled Brazil’s Multi-Billion Dollar Education Industry: Shaping Futures, Changing Lives, and Minting Billionaires that points out the global pressure Brazil has to improve its citizens’ overall quality of life.

As I also pointed out last week, Brazil’s edtech startup scene is truly buzzing. While Brazil has quickly grown to become the sixth strongest economy in the world, according to OECD Better Life Index its education has been left behind and is rated only 35th out of all countries associated with OECD.

Menezes says that there is a large gap between school and college in Brazil. This gap is what Learncafe is trying to fill. He also notes that Brazil doesn’t have proper science and technology education for example, but a platform such as Learncafe offers courses in a variety of different subjects including technology. In Brazil, 41% of adults aged 25-64 who have earned the equivalent of a high-school degree.

Learn Cafe cover

This also means that the startup environment is incredibly competitive. Apart from different monetization methods or specialized courses, finding the right balance between quantity and quality is extremely important. Learncafe prides itself on being more “open” compared to its competition. It also uses an auto-regulation system where the community rate the courses based on quality.

Menezes further elaborates stating that Brazilian citizens are not living up to their potential because of the lack of human resources currently available to them. Learncafe could help people to be better prepared to further their professional goals by providing online learning content to all learners.

The company allows free and paid courses. It profits from paid courses where 50% of the subscriptions are kept. In recent years, online teaching has boomed. The ability to reach millions via the net creates stories like the South Korean teacher who earns US$4-million a year— a country with an extremely competitive and commercial tutoring system that has managed to overcome extremely poor levels of education in less than 50 years.

Concerning its current competition, Learncafe aims to become more popular than the international Udemy because of its anyone can teach value approach. In order to maintain a normative degree of quality, Udemy has a set of guidelines instructors need to take care of before presenting their courses. Learncafe, on the other hand, is said to be less strict.

Compared to a similar site such as Buzzero which is another local competitor, Learcafe says its “more complete” as it offers a greater variety of different courses.

“It’s easier to teach with us, it’s easier to start with us,” says José but whether leaning towards quantity of content means moving further away from quality remains to be seen.

Image via Derek Fritz

Jacques Coetzee: Staff Reporter


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