Australian edtech firm Zookal raises $9.85m in equity fundraising round

Students learning on their computers in a classroom. Photo: Pixabay

Edtech player Zookal has raised A$15 million ($9.85 million) in an oversubscribed equity fundraising round, bringing the total raised to A$25 million, the Australia-based company announced on Monday.

The company, which offers textbook rentals for university students, said it plans to use the funds to expand into Southeast Asia by tripling the size of its engineering team to 24 and via strategic hires.

The funding round was led by existing investors Koh Boon Hwee, who is managing partner of private equity firm Credence Partners and chairman of a number of publicly-listed companies, and Bernard Sabrier, who is chairman of the US$26 billion fund Unigestion, the statement said.

In addition, Singapore-listed Wee Hur Holdings, which has a student-housing portfolio, participated in the fund-raising round, the statement said. In the statement, Goh Yeow Lian, chairman of Wee Hur Holdings, said his company was looking to tie-up with Zookal to support education-sector innovation.

Wee Hur did not respond to a follow-up email from DealStreetAsia, and a person who answered the phone at the company said all the company’s information was confidential.

Zookal’s co-founder and CEO Ahmed Haider said the company was set to reach A$35 million in revenue for 2020, up from A$25 million last year. The site has 750,000 users across Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong and the Philippines, he said in the statement.

“Southeast Asia is a very attractive market with our digital users growing to 300,000 in just eight months. Our goal is to reach 10 million students in the coming years as Asia comes online,” Haider said.

A previous fundraising round was led by Omer Regev at Gemini Israel Venture Funds, who was previously CFO at Chegg, a U.S.-based company that provides textbook discounts as well as tutoring and other services, according to 2013 media reports.

Aayush Phumbhra, a co-founder at New York Stock Exchange-listed Chegg and a Zookal shareholder, said he expected Zookal to also become a multi-billion-dollar company.

In 2011, Zookal raised $260,000 in a seed round, and then in 2013, raised series A funding of $1.8 million from Filtro Private Equity (Silicon Valley) and $600,000 from an unnamed source, according to Crunchbase data. In 2016, Zookal raised $5 million in funding, the data show.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.