Toronto-based Top Hat, a tech-first teaching platform for higher education focused on improving student outcomes, has raised $55 million in a Series D funding round to accelerate the transformation of teaching and learning in higher education, the company has announced in a press release.
The round was co-led by existing investors Georgian Partners and Inovia Capital, and supported by all of the company’s existing investors, including Union Square Ventures, Emergence Capital and Leaders Fund. It also received debt financing from BMO Technology and Innovation Banking Group.
Founded in 2009 by Mike Silagadze and Mohsen Shahini, Top Hat provides a platform that helps educators take advantage of the very technology students bring into the classroom: Smartphones. Its interactive, cloud-based teaching platform enables teachers to engage students inside and outside the classroom with compelling content, tools, and activities. Top Hat seamlessly combines interactive textbooks, lecture slides, quizzes, and assignments all on one platform, supporting student learning before, during, and even after class.
Top Hat helps educators take attendance, administer polls, games and quizzes, and share lecture notes – all by connecting to students’ mobile devices. Besides delivering online homework and interactive educational content, the platform also provides a space where instructors can collaborate to create interactive and engaging course material. Top Hat claims more than 1.2 million students at 750 of the top 1,000 colleges and universities in North America have used its platform.
Commenting on the latest development, Mike Silagadze, Co-founder and CEO, Top Hat, said in a released statement,
“Higher education is undergoing a sea change brought on by the massive price of a degree, combined with an economy undergoing radical transformation. This has created a demand to raise the impact of educational outcomes. With the support and confidence of our investors, customers, and employees, Top Hat will continue building on the exponential growth we’ve achieved to empower professors to work smarter and more effectively so they can improve the educational return on investment for their students.”
The company said the latest funding will enable it to continue to accelerate the disruption of traditional textbooks and course materials in order to deliver greater educational ROI to students. It said the funding will also enable the company to scale partnerships with traditional publishers, and further invest in its strategy to empower professors to author, adopt, curate and adapt course materials to create personalized and responsive learning experiences.
The company has already signed exclusive deals with independent textbook publisher Fountainhead Press and Bluedoor Publishing, to offer high-quality, affordable course materials with flexible content and interactive elements to promote student engagement. The company has also last year bundled its products into a single platform to provide teachers with a comprehensive set of tools for managing their classes.
Issuing a statement on the investment, Justin LaFayette, Managing Partner, Georgian Partners, said,
“Top Hat continues to deliver outstanding growth based on very strong adoption of the only tech-first teaching platform for higher education. By amplifying its content strategy through publisher partnerships and supporting professors to create their own customizable digital course materials, Top Hat will continue to lead and transform the market to better support professors and students.”
Top Hat’s suite of easy-to-use tools address four teaching challenges: student engagement, textbook affordability and customizability, student comprehension, and secure test administration.
Shawn Abbott, Partner, Inovia Capital, also issued a statement on the investment saying,
“As university students rebel against ridiculous textbook prices much as music consumers did in the early 2000s, Top Hat has emerged a visionary leader by bringing students and educators together in a collaborative digital teaching and learning experience that improves outcomes while reducing costs. My partnership is proud to be part of the massive societal impact of building an enduring, trusted platform on which our children are being better educated, affordably.”
Meanwhile, according to Crunchbase, Top Hat has raised a total of about $105 million till date.