Female-founded edtech Cleverbean raises $200,000 to reduce teach burnout

- May 29, 2023 2 MIN READ
Alina Hunter and Lucy Chambers
Cleverbean cofounders Alina Hunter and Lucy Chambers
Edtech Cleverbean has raised $200,000 in Seed funding from Victorian early-stage investor Skalata Ventures to help reduce teacher burnout, at a time when a record number are leaving the profession.

The startup offers thousands of evidence-based and research-backed learning materials for the K-6 Australian English curriculum.

Cleverbean was cofounded Lucy Chambers, a teacher, and Alina Hunter.

Chambers said that a recent study released by the Grattan Institute found that 76% of Australian teachers don’t feel they have the support from schools to plan high-quality lessons, while 59% of teachers are facing burnout. The result Grattan dubbed the “lesson lottery”. They’re hoping to improve the odds of students winning with Cleverbean.

“The nucleus of what we do solves three key problems – providing the best quality materials for teachers, making them lightning-fast to find, and ensuring that every student is being given personalised feedback,” she said.

“As a teacher, you’re often using social media to find pre-planned materials to save time. But the concern is that there’s no standard of governance, which makes it difficult for teachers to know if what they’re getting is really evidence-based and how.”

Hunter said Cleverbean’s growth has been fuelled by word-of-mouth referrals among teachers, who are paying for the platform out of their own pockets, with 96% of teachers using the platform reporting that they’re saving time in planning lessons.

“Of course, we would much prefer that schools pay for the product, not teachers. But the early validation we have seen from teachers gives us confidence that schools – and government – will adopt the technology on their behalf,” she said.

The duo are now looking at introducing artificial intelligence into the platform to help teachers provide real-time feedback to students. Chambers said the concept came about after analysing hundreds of pieces of classroom work, teacher feedback and their level of experience, and realising that without consistent feedback, student capability suffers.

“We’re now using AI to give teachers time to focus on what matters – connecting, guiding, and providing that essential personalised support to students,” Chambers said.

Skalata investment manager Tom Smalley sees the edtech startup as a solution to several painpoints in junior school teaching for educators, parents and students.

“Cleverbean is giving the glacially slow government a lesson in efficiency – going directly to teachers with a polished, research-based platform,” he said.

“The recent Budget saw an additional $25 million chipped in to pilot new ways to reduce teacher workloads and maximise teaching time. But Cleverbean’s strong traction with teachers, and impressive AI-assisted roadmap, has shown the solution may just be in plain sight.”