Perlego raises $9 million to make learning accessible to all

Perlego – a leading streaming service for educational books – have today announced that they’ve closed their Series A fundraising round at a total of £7 million ($9 million). 

The round brought with it a number of notable new investors to Perlego. These include Charlie Songhurst, Dedicated VC and Thomas Leysen (Chairman of Mediahuis and Umicore). Further financing was also contributed on a pro-rata basis by Perlego’s existing investors including ADV, Simon Franks and Alex Chesterman. 

The funding will go towards developing the next generation of Perlego’s smarter learning platform with new features that simplify and enhance the learning experience, and content libraries in non-English languages to facilitate its expansion into the strategic European markets.

Perlego is on a mission to make education material accessible for all. Providing access to over 250,000 eBooks, from over 2,300 publishers, cross-device and in multiple languages – Perlego now includes content from key publishers in Germany, the Nordics and Italy.

In addition to Perlego’s success in the academic sector, a significant interest from professionals (30% of users) has indicated the scale of the impact that its affordable academic content could have on knowledge sharing far beyond the formal education sphere. 

The Perlego platform remedies many of the ills experienced by the academic publishing sector. For the student, it provides a much-needed solution to the issue of textbook price inflation – prices have increased by over 847% since 1978, or three times the rate of inflation. While students in the UK can spend on average £400 per year on their textbooks, Perlego gives its readers access to the entire digital library for £12 per month.

For publishers, Perlego offers a distribution method that reclaims the revenue losses to piracy and the second-hand market; much in the way that the likes of Spotify have done for the music industry. With Pearson, Wiley and Sage all making moves to this end, and Perlego’s 116% increase in new subscribers month-on-month it’s clear to see that the future is digital, validating Perlego’s mission statement and business model.

With the switch in consumer preference from ownership to access that has seen whole sectors like music, film and transport completely upended, Perlego provides a clear path to aligning the industry with the inclinations of the market. 

Between 2014 and 2018, the proportion of academic materials sold in physical form declined by 3%. Digital textbooks saw their market share increase by 3% across the same period. With the digital shift sure to continue, Perlego ensures that publisher revenues are protected while widening user access to educational materials. 

Speaking on the investment, Gauthier Van Malderen, co-founder and CEO at Perlego noted:

“Learning should be accessible for all, but unfortunately, the economics of the publishing industry means that this isn’t always possible. With Perlego, we can change this. Our platform widens access to educational materials at an affordable rate while concurrently driving profitability for the publishing sector. This means that more people will be able to enjoy the opportunities afforded to them by education.” 

Richard Howells, Director of International Sales & Marketing at Harvard University Press, stated:

“Harvard University Press is pleased to be partnering with Perlego which we see as an exciting and innovative new digital model for both publishers and students.

Providing breadth of content and convenience of access, they are engaging a whole new segment of the market, with a competitive offer. We look forward to taking this partnership forward”

Brent Hoberman, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman, Founders Factory: 

“With digital services like Perlego, the industry is one step closer to tackling the accessibility issue in education, and publishers can enhance their bottom line through textbook streaming. This business also offers something unique and exciting that appeals to both the academic sector and professionals simultaneously. At Founders Factory we couldn’t be happier to be a part of Perlego’s journey and provide ongoing support for such a talented, young team.”