zenda, a UAE-based financial technology startup for school fees, announced that it has raised $9.4 million in a seed round with participation from STV, COTU, Global Founders Capital, and VentureSouq.
With the fresh capital, the startup plans to work for product development and market expansion in India.
Founded in June 2021 by alumni of McKinsey & Company, Raman Thiagarajan and Haseeb Ahmed, who had previously founded EdTech startup Nexsquare in Dubai, zenda currently addresses the payment issues of school fees, in particular, the lack of convenience and flexibility in payment options for parents and the poor collection of payments for schools.
Using zenda, families can track dues and make payments through a multitude of pay-now and pay-later options, and unlock rewards for paying on time. The platform integrates with schools through its proprietary data model and APIs and eliminates last mile reconciliation challenges and delays.
zenda is on a mission to help families thrive. It aims to make it easier for families to manage money and enable their financial wellness, banking and financial experiences built from the ground up, designed specifically for families.
Talking about the platform, Founder and CEO of zenda, Raman Thiagarajan, said:
"Since our launch, feedback from the market, especially from our users, has been terrific. Over the past months in India we have built a pipeline of more than 1000+ institutions and are immensely grateful for their trust. It is gratifying to see the response from parents and seeing how they have embraced our service. zenda schools are witnessing a systematic increase in their collections. We have a truly outstanding team and I feel privileged to have such a passionate group with us on this journey."
After its initial launch in UAE, zenda initiated India entry and operations in Q3 2021. The company witnessed strong market traction with schools and with families. It has grown its user base 20X since June 2021 and crossed the $100 million+ in annual contracted total payments volume (TPV) by Q4 2021, across both markets.
Commenting on the funding, General Partner of STV, Ihsan Jawad, said:
"Raman, Haseeb and the team have identified a compelling gap in the market and in supporting families on a topic that is very important to them. Seeing their strong traction over the past several months, we couldn't be more excited about Zenda. India and the GCC are a USD 100+ billion market for private education fees. They have built an outstanding team and we look forward to working with them in helping zenda achieve its mission."
With more than 40 team members now, and 2/3rds in India, the team has scaled rapidly, operating out of Bengaluru, Kochi, Delhi and Dubai. zenda’s success is also attributable to the team’s expertise and deep insights into how educational institutions operate, from their earlier venture.