Our investment in Atomi: the ultimate online learning resource for school students and teachers
The end of 2021 was an extremely busy and exciting time for OIF Ventures, welcoming several exceptional new founders to our growing portfolio. Online teaching and learning platform for schools, Atomi, is one of the companies we recently backed, with OIF leading their A$9 million Series A funding round.
Through its platform, Atomi combines engaging content, intelligent testing and powerful analytics for hundreds of thousands of students, teachers and schools across Australia and the UK. Teachers can create and deliver personalised learning experiences, and the platform’s built-in analytics provides educators with insights into students’ progress and performance. Students are also given the flexibility to catch up on lessons from home and can benefit from being able to have a personalised learning path created for them.
After launching in 2013, Atomi now delivers millions of lessons each year to over 50,000 school students while accelerating the rate of innovation of their platform to support more students and teachers globally. In the last 12 months, Atomi has more than doubled the number of schools on the platform, having added more schools in 2021 than in the previous three years combined.
COVID-19 upended virtually all aspects of life, and the shift to remote learning has resulted in strong demand for EdTech solutions. The expectation is that the impacts and efficiencies that come from technology-enabled classrooms will continue and represents a systematic and permanent shift in the way schools approach the delivery of education. Atomi is in an excellent position to take advantage of this shift.
What attracted us to Atomi:
- A market value of around US$250 billion, that is anticipated to grow almost four times by 2027 coupled with the right business model to capitalise the opportunity.
- There’s a natural growth opportunity as Atomi expands their offerings across additional school year cohorts and subjects without needing to enter new markets.
- The young and ambitious co-founders who have been on this journey for almost ten years.
The boom of EdTech … and it’s not just because of COVID-19
Even before COVID-19, there was already high demand for, and adoption of education technology, with global EdTech investments reaching US$18.66 billion in 2019. COVID-19 has kicked it up to a new level. As schools and universities shut across the world, the demand for online learning, training and tutoring platforms elevated. The digital learning tools adopted during online schooling have proven to be sticky, with 90% of teachers in the US planning to continue their usage going forward.
The global e-learning market surpassed US$250 billion in value in 2020, and is anticipated to grow to US$1 trillion by 2027. Venture funding in EdTech also grew 14x in the last decade, and over US$87 billion is expected to be invested over the next ten years globally. The first half of 2021 saw the biggest venture funding in history for the industry, with US$10 billion invested.
In Australia alone, the e-learning market is estimated to be worth over A$8.1 billion, up almost 145% from the previous three years, and EdTech has almost doubled in just two years, emerging as the second largest startup industry in Australia, behind FinTech.
Atomi platform makes education awesome, engaging and simple
Students are digital natives. Increasingly, students are turning to online resources rather than textbooks and as a result teachers needs to operate in the same space where students are also learning, whilst building rapport and enhancing the value teachers bring to students’ learning.
At the same time, many of the existing online solutions don’t provide teachers with data points on individual students or integrate with the other tools teachers are using such as Canvas, OneNote, Blackboard and Google Classroom. Over the last couple of years with compulsory remote learning, there’s evidence that many students fell behind, further reinforcing the value of platforms like Atomi that are able to provide support to students no matter where they are, 24/7.
Atomi provides a smart platform with engaging and easily digestible video content along with value-adding insights for both teachers and students. This allows for tailored learning and teaching experiences. Many of the teachers and students we spoke to were really impressed with the platform, especially the personalised quizzes, tasks feature, analytics dashboard and the quick onboarding process. Currently Atomi supports curriculums in Australian schools’ years nine to twelve, and the team have plans to expand to all school years.
Some of the core features include:
- Curriculum specific content with thousands of ready-made, syllabus specific videos, text lessons and quizzes to power learning beyond the classroom.
- Intelligent testing with interactive quizzes that adapt in real-time, promote mastery learning and power intelligent revision recommendations.
- Real-time analytics providing clear insights into student usage, who needs assistance and how a class is performing. Students (and parents) can see usage statistics and see how they’re progressing or spot any areas where they need extra support.
There’s two types of users: the teachers and students.
For teachers, it’s fast and easy to see what every student is up to. They can seamlessly allocate work and tasks to their class and identify, with detailed analytics, which students need help and where. This makes it simple to keep students on track whilst also allowing teachers to target interventions and create a more tailored approach to the classroom.
For students, Atomi provides bite-sized video lessons and personalised revision for less than A$200 a year for up to seven subjects, compared to tutoring which ranges from A$30 to A$150 an hour. Students can practice their skills with Atomi’s interactive quizzes that give them and their teachers valuable feedback on their understanding and performance. Atomi’s quizzes adapt to student responses in real-time allowing stronger students to move faster or offering weaker students additional questions targeted to what they might need.
A passionate and experienced team, led by complementary co-founders
Rob Barakat and Tom O’Donahoo are the brilliant co-founders behind Atomi. They started the business during their university days, out of their shared passion for democratising quality education. We believe Rob’s entrepreneurial mindset and Tom’s technical prowess are the perfect combination to get the mission done.
Despite being first-time founders, Rob and Tom are extremely talented entrepreneurs and are very familiar with the education industry. They founded Atomi in 2013 and now deliver millions of lessons per year to over 50,000 users.
Our favourite thing about Rob and Tom is that they combine a systematic, innovative, and research-based approach to resource design with actionable analytics — giving school leaders, teachers, and students the tools they need to achieve their goals.
We have built a relationship with Rob and Tom over the last few months, and we trust their ability to execute and grow. We are now certain that Atomi has a very large and unique global opportunity and want to support its outstanding founders
In addition to two great founders, the Atomi team consists of exceptional operators — front-end developers Lise Townsend and Loic Plaire each bring nearly 20 years of industry experience. Lead product designer Josh Hiew was previously a product designer at Facebook, Domain and Bumble. Head of engineering Tim Eisenhuth has led engineering teams across different companies for the past 12 years. The content creators are some of the state’s highest performing students.
Why the time is now
We’re often faced with the questions of why a particular company is the answer and why now is the time for our team to join the journey. For the team at OIF, Atomi represents an opportunity to invest in talented and ambitious founders and support their mission to redefine the future of education and reshape how future generations consume education and develop their learning skills. With the rapid growth of demand in EdTech and accelerated adoption of online learning platforms, we feel that this is the time to back an exceptional team like Atomi.
If we think about what differentiates Atomi from their competitors, it’s their smarter platform that caters especially well for average or lower grade students through personalised experiences. The team at Atomi have been fine-tuning their product over many years. During our due diligence, students and teachers consistently rated them to be more engaging than other platforms and affordable.
Atomi have already established a product their customers love, a highly efficient business model and are led by an ambitious and experienced team. We’re so proud to have joined the Atomi family in this latest round, and we’re confident in their plans to accelerate and scale both domestically and internationally and continue to have impact for schools, teachers, students and their parents. Schooling will never be the same thanks to COVID-19, and technology-enabled classrooms are here to stay. So, to be partnered with an innovator and leader in the space, is our privilege and we can’t wait to see where this journey takes the Atomi team!
Atomi is hiring now! Check open roles here.
OIF Ventures is a leading Australian venture capital firm that champions exceptional founders, driven by purpose, who add material value to their customers, markets, and communities. OIF Ventures invests in early-stage companies with innovative, high-growth and disruptive technologies with demonstrated market demand.
Founded in 2016 by a team of founders, entrepreneurs, and business-builders, OIF Ventures has raised two funds to date, managing over $300 million and closing its upsized Fund II in mid-2021 for over $115 million. OIF Ventures is exclusively backed by founders, business-builders, ASX executives, HNW and family offices. While focused on backing Australian founders, OIF Ventures seeks to partner with ambitious founders who have the opportunity to expand into global markets, in particular the US, where we can support this expansion through our extensive network of potential customers and investors.
The OIF Ventures team have backed some of Australia’s leading emerging technology companies including Go1, Instaclustr, Assignar, Enboarder, Kasada, Circle In, Adventus.io, Clear Dynamics and more.