News & Analysis

Equity crowdfunding platform VentureCrowd raises over $640,000 for education startup Zookal

- March 29, 2016 3 MIN READ

Equity crowdfunding platform VentureCrowd has today announced the completion of a $643,000 equity crowdfunding raise for Australian tech education startup Zookal, along with the launch of a new fundraising campaign for e-sports network GAMURS.

The funding round for Zookal, which is based in Singapore, was oversubscribed, with current equity crowdfunding regulations meaning that the funds were raised from wholesale investors. The funds raised will allow Zookal to expand further across the Asia-Pacific and offer its digital education services to customers around the world.

“We set out to improve the support systems that students use during their education, to help them learn without the significant cost that accompanies traditional textbooks and courses,” said Zookal cofounder Ahmed Haider.

“We chose to raise part of our funding through VentureCrowd in order to widen our investor base in Australia; their platform allows us to do that without increasing the strain it would have on our business.”

Zookal was first launched in 2011 by a group of university students who saw a gap in the market for more affordable access to educational resources. Their aim was to reduce the cost and pain of expensive textbooks that have prices well above the hundred dollar mark. Zookal’s service allows students to rent textbooks rather than buy, and has also expanded its offerings into digital textbooks and course notes, online tutoring, and internship opportunities.

Haider said, “Textbooks were the biggest pain point for me as a student so the idea came from a personal experience of going nearly broke every semester to fork out for textbooks, and I wanted a better solution to help students.”

In 2015 Zookal’s service grew 370 percent and was used by more than 40,000 students who purchased 88,000 products. Through the startup’s entry into the Asian marketplace new opportunities have been created. The latest round of funding with VentureCrowd will also work towards creating new partnerships with universities and the development of more online video courses.

Zookal is the 14th crowdfunding campaign completed through VentureCrowd since 2014. The Australian crowdfunding platform completed the most biggest crowdfunding deal in the country of $4.2 million with ingogo.

VentureCrowd has also announced today the beginning of a new funding round with GAMURS, an Australian based e-sports network that attracts over one million members. So far the startup has raised $300,000 and plans to raise an additional $100,000 though VentureCrowd to expand on its current investor base, with founder and CEO Riad Chikhani explaining that raising through VentureCrowd gives the startup access to investors that will add expertise to the business outside the e-sports market.

The news comes after fellow Australian equity crowdfunding platform Equitise announced a NZ$2 million raise for sportswear brand SKINS. Global companies like SKINS and Zookal are now recognising the ability local crowdfunding platforms have to tap into a strong group of brand advocates and investors around the world.

Equity crowdfunding for Australian startups, which has previously been restricted by legislation limitations, is expected to be opened to retail investors and passed by the Australian Government in the coming months. However, these changes have been heavily criticised by industry.

“We’re open and ready to offer these deals to retail investors looking to diversify their portfolio, but the government’s proposed laws will be ineffectual, and result in a situation where retail investors only see deals from startups that have proven to be un-investable by all other sources,” said Rob Nankivell, CEO of VentureCrowd.

“We welcome recent moves by Labor to amend the proposed laws and make them workable for startups looking for a viable alternative funding method as soon as possible.”

Image: Zookal Team. Source: Supplied