From "Two Guys in a Garage" to an Education Revolution


Has the digital revolution finally reached education?The story of Steve Jobs and his Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak squeezed inside the garage of Jobs' parents, working around the clock to build their first prototype computer, is the stuff of modern legend. As every entrepreneur knows, all big dreams must start somewhere. Forty years on and Menno Thijssen and Patrick Bouwens, founders of now multinational educational software business Edumundo, are living examples of the do-it-yourself bootstrapping principle. The dream? To revolutionise higher education for generations to come. Educational innovators: Menno Thijssen and Patrick Bouwens (L-R)

Founded in 2001, Menno (CEO) and Patrick (CTO) cut their teeth in business games and e-learning projects in the Netherlands before expanding to the UK. After becoming market leader in business games in the Netherlands, Belgium and the UK, Edumundo switched its focus to replacing textbooks with user-friendly educational software for a more interactive learning experience. Now, having secured its first round of investment from a private equity fund in 2014, the company is seeking new crowdfunding investors to speed up the development and roll-out of its 'Edubook'.

Edumundo are crowdfunding now on Symbid, view their full pitch and invest here.

The Edumundo equity crowdfunding pitch video (in Dutch)

While studying together in Amsterdam, Menno and Patrick saw that their tutors were being held back by the educational tools at their disposal. The level of teaching was improving. Classes were smaller, new teaching methods were encouraged, and more attention was paid to each individual student. Except for one crucial aspect: the textbook. "Textbooks are limited in their educational power. They often don't stimulate the reader, the content is generic and they make learning about the individual. We aim to replace books with digital learning products that bring tailor-made education to, and beyond, the classroom," says co-founder Menno.

A selection of Edumundo customers

Edumuno are pioneering online learning experiences that adapt to the needs of each student, encourage students to exchange ideas and - unlike textbooks - enable them to learn beyond a subject and advance further. Students login with a personal code and follow the curriculum through interactive modules. Teachers can track the progress of each student in real-time, responding immediately when they see one struggling. Already active in over 100 universities across Europe with 20,000 students on board, Edumundo has come a long way since its origins in Menno's garage.

Higher education is ripe for technological disruption, argues Patrick. The recent shift to digital learning environments (such as Blackboard) is just the beginning. "In terms of educational efficiency, the incumbent digital tools are far from ideal. They are basically reporting systems, and don't allow for interactive, hands-on and collaborative learning between student and teacher. By taking learning fully online in one integrated solution, Edumundo has the power of data. This makes the system smarter and more responsive," says Patrick, CTO of Edumundo. "Edubook is the ultimate combination of innovative didactics, adaptive learning, simulations, games, testing, monitoring, workbooks, textbooks and content management systems. All in one place."

The Edubook in action

The need for a more innovative approach to education is becoming clearer as the digital revolution sweeps through the retail, hospitality, transportation and financial industries. Universities and colleges are catching on, as are governments and public institutions. Last year Edumundo received a major investment from a Dutch private equity fund in light of the company's positive social impact - plus its business potential.

"The new generation of students should be able to benefit from a smarter, digital education. It's good to see that people are in support of our mission," said Thijssen. "What's more, our investors recognise that we - a new kind of educational content provider - are uniquely placed to lead this change. Publishers, authors and software companies can't offer the level of integration that's needed for education in the 21st century."

Screenshot of the 'Search skills' Edubook

After the first round of funding in 2014 Edumundo are now seeking investment from the crowd in order to fulfil demand for their new Edubook product. "It's inspiring to see the crowd investing in our idea. Many of our investors are parents just like ourselves, and to see them really getting behind our concept is proof that we're on the right track," Menno added. With every Edubook sold separately in the same way as a traditional book title, Edumundo are now focusing on producing the digital content that they expect will replace the textbook in the next 10 years.

"Our software is about enabling students to learn according to their specific needs, study more efficiently and, ultimately, achieve more. This change will happen, the only question is who will lead it. As a first mover, we're one of the most promising players in this industry."

Video of a live pitch and Q&A with Edumundo, hosted by Symbid (in Dutch)

Edumundo are crowdfunding now on Symbid, view their full pitch and invest here.