Jul 032012

An adaptive learning hub for interactive courses

When it comes to learning, BenchPrep believes that the most effective educational content doesn’t come in the form of books — or even eBooks. Instead, it’s interactive and cross platform. That’s why the Chicago-based startup is on a mission to build an adaptive learning hub for interactive courses, where students can study content from any publisher, on the Web or on any mobile device. The startup has already released 100 courses, which are being consumed by 250K students, but the team has bigger ambitions — they want to reach 500 courses and one million students within the year.

To help it meet this scale, BenchPrep is today announcing that it has closed $6 million in venture funding, led by New Enterprise Associates with participation from Revolution Ventures. This is BenchPrep’s second round of funding, following the $2.2 million it raised from Lightbank last year, bringing its total to $8.2 million. BenchPrep was one of Lightbank’s first investments and Eric Lefkosky and Brad Keywell continue to sit on the startup’s board of directors. As a result of the round, NEA partner Peter Barris also joins the board.

While reaching 500 courses and one million students by the end of the year may seem an ambitious goal, BenchPrep has come a long way in a short period of time. The startup launched its platform in July 2011 and grew its course library to 100 within 10 months. But the real key to its growth is that BenchPrep now partners with more than 20 of the industry’s top publishers, including McGraw Hill, Princeton Review, Wiley, Cengage Learning and O’Reilly.

Rather than developing its own educational content in-house, BenchPrep licenses material from these textbook publishers, mixing and matching the best content for each particular discipline. Of course, textbook publishers have traditionally been reluctant to partner with newcomers, especially when it comes to licensing agreements, but BenchPrep CEO Ashish Rangnekar tells us that they were able to convince publishers that they were not, in fact, competing for the same dollar.

Instead, Rangnekar asked publishers to think of BenchPrep as distributors — and distributors not of books or eBooks, but of interactive study guides. And as extra incentive, the CEO says that BenchPrep ensures that the royalties for their publishing partners are greater than what they find selling their content through Amazon or traditional bookstores.

Read more . . .

via TechCrunch- Rip Empson

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