The best kind of businesses are often driven by the founders’ need to solve a problem that they have encountered. This need, call it purpose, often translates to a meaningful vision that drives everything the company does from the product to the company culture. However, a strong vision alone can only take you so far without proper execution. After meeting CEO and co-founder of Perlego, Gauthier Van Malderen, and the team at Perlego, we were convinced that Perlego has the capabilities to execute and continue to fulfill its vision.
The problem Gauthier and Perlego are tackling is not a simple one. The cost of university textbooks has risen steadily for decades, which means that students cannot afford textbooks and must rely on pirate copies or used second-hand books that typically are worn out or printed a decade ago. This is something Gauthier and Matthew Davis, CTO & co-founder of Perlego, encountered when they were students, and it left them frustrated. Second-hand books and pirate copies have also had effects on publishers, as they have seen their sales decrease. Because of this, Perlego and its e-book library and study tool come in at the perfect time: it gives students an affordable solution while helping publishers increase their sales.
With its excellent team, vision, and solution we are proud and happy to announce our partnership with Perlego. We are joining the $50M Series B together with Mediahuis Ventures, Raine Ventures, a group of publishers and existing investors. Especially in extremely tough times like these, it brings us comfort to support and back a company that is driven to make objective, educational and science-backed content accessible to all. In an era where misinformation spreads like fire, this is something that will continue to be important.
You had me at hello
From the first encounter we had with Gauthier, we were very excited about the opportunity to partner with Perlego. Since then, we had multiple follow-on calls and met during Slush in Helsinki. Our excitement only grew from these calls, as Gauthier and the team had great traction with both subscribers and publishers, a great team and detailed plans moving forward. We quickly established that there was a clear startup-founder fit. As our case lead, Riku Asikainen put it, there were three main reasons for our investment:
- Founders and the team: There is a good reason this is a cliché, as it is undoubtedly true. Based on all the interactions we have had so far, Gauthier, Matthew and the team at Perlego are bold, ambitious and skillful enough to continue scaling the company further. They have already done a great job, as proven by the numbers. The number of subscribers grew over 450 per cent last year and the service has already over 800 000 titles. Moreover, Gauthier and Matthew have been able to build a strong, joyful culture where people thrive, as supported by their high ratings on Glassdoor.
- A superb tool for a large and changing market: Perlego is a great tool for students and curious minds to learn and consume objective and educational materials. Perlego has a 4,6/5 rating on Trustpilot and it is loved by students across the globe. As Perlego provides an affordable solution for studying, it is proving to cater to the needs of a vast market that still relies on physical books. Online subscription services have replaced physical and traditional ways of consumption in different industries before, and we believe that Perlego is doing the same for university textbooks now.
- Our domain expertise: Our Managing Partner Riku Asikainen built an online bookstore almost before there was internet to the wider public in the Nordics. Since then, we have invested in multiple different companies with similar business models. We and Riku know some of the pain points that arise on this path. Therefore, we feel that our domain expertise can be helpful for Perlego (and hopefully the feeling is mutual!).
Now that the Series B is raised, we look forward to seeing the company grow to new heights. The combination of a great founding team, strong purposeful vision and a loved tool solving a need for a large market give the company a solid basis to continue building on. This holds true especially in times of trouble.
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