Fresh off a visit at General Assembly last week for the European Buffet, I’ve got my eye on alternative education startups, and there is none more advanced in France than myBlee. They have 20 iOS apps and 4 Apps on Windows 8 dedicated to education for children, primarily basic mathematics courses. Their apps have 70,000+ downloads, and are reporting 150K+ lessons having been taken by kids on their apps. They are consistently #1 on the Education category of the app stores in France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Spain, and thus are generating 35% of their revenue (they operate on a freemium model) outside of France.
I met up with myBlee founders last week after I ran across them at RejoignezUneStartup, the startup hiring event from a few months ago that attracted great startups and an amazing level of engineering talent. myblee mentioned that they hired 4 developers (3 full-time and 1 freelance) from this event.
Meeting up with cofounders Samuel Rohaut, former CTO of Allocine, and Laetitia Grail, a former math teacher who also did a stint with the CNNum, for whom she wrote a white paper about education in the digital era. It was clear that they had a vision for how education would evolve over the next few years, and what roll they wanted to play in it. As they said, selling premium tablet apps is a necessary first step, as it generates revenue and builds a brand, but premium apps aren’t the revolution. Grail spoke of having one app that both parent and child could use, where the child would see lessons, and the parent could track their child’s progress. In addition, for children (or parents) who want more one-on-one education, a marketplace for tutors.
Their most recent release, coming out today, will include a whole new library of lessons, and they have increased their catalogue of free lessons, providing the first lesson for each series free as a demo – they’ve also got a new subscription model that opens access to the entire myBlee catalogue. They’ve added in a gamification element by offering trophies and prizes to children. In addition to French, English & Spanish, myBlee now offers all of its lessons in German.
The last educational app we spoke about was DragonBox, who’s algebra-learning app had a most unique property that you didn’t even know you were learning algebra, as the rules of the game just followed the laws of algebra, and you solved Cut The Rope style puzzles.
There’s no doubt that alternatives to the current education system are more and more conceivable with the tablet-generation currently growing up. My sisters had iPads in middle school instead of textbooks, and we all ooh-ed and ahh-ed over the video of a baby who tried to swipe the pages of a physical magazine like it were Flipboard.
Who knows what form education will take over the next 10-15 years – it will surely be influenced by the baby steps each education startup has taken in the past 5-10 years.