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Edtech firm Kami raises $1.5m

By Sara Barker, Thu 17 Jan 2019
FYI, this story is more than a year old

New Zealand edtech startup Kami has raised $1.5 million to help take the company to North America and beyond. 

Kami is a cloud-based edtech provider, whose app is designed to provide an easier way of learning for both teachers and students.

The company explains: “With an increasing number of schools across North America and Europe going paperless, Kami’s cloud-based application allows teachers and students to annotate, view, edit and collaborate on digital documents in their browser and complements existing office suites, cloud platforms and learning management systems.”

Kami, which was created by Hengjie Wang, Jordan Thoms, and Alliv Samson while they were at university in 2013, originally made it to the finals in Auckland University’s annual business startup competition.

The company now serves more than six million users, including more than 20,000 schools in the United States. 

Teachers apparently report that the app saves them many hours of admin every week - extra time they can now spend working with their students.

According to Kami’s founding chairman and chief revenue officer Bob Drummond, the investment has boosted its valuation to almost $20 million.

The $1.5 million funding will help accelerate the company’s growth and scale it up worldwide. The seed round was also oversubscribed by 180%, and was led by Australian venture capital firm, Right Click Capital.

The New Zealand Venture Investment Fund, Capital Pitch, and other New Zealand and Australian angels also invested in the firm.

“Being cashflow positive over the last 24 months has also given us the luxury of being selective in our choice of timing, amount and source of capital in this round,” says Drummond. 

“Furthermore, as we have no existing working capital requirement, the fresh cash is available wholly for driving incremental growth. When building the round, it was important to us that we find a lead investor with a track record of successful similar investments in the Australia and New Zealand region, and be part of a global network capable of larger future investments. For us, Right Click Capital hit the mark.”

According to CEO Hengjie Wang, the company’s mission is to transition classrooms to the paperless world.

"Kami allows teachers and students to engage in a more collaborative and engaging classroom experience – a shift away from the current one-way dialogue from teachers to students."

“We have received overwhelmingly positive feedback from teachers, who have recognised the significant time savings and uplift in active, real-time participation in the classroom using Kami.

Teachers have also reported that children with special needs, such as dyslexia, benefit immensely from the tools within Kami that help children improve their reading and comprehension.”

Kami also has a number of accolades to its name. Kami won the 2015 New Zealand Innovators Award, was named the 2017 American Chamber of Commerce NZ Exporter of the Year. Co-founder and COO Alliv Samson was a finalist for the 2018 Woman of Influence Awards and is also a current semi-finalist for the Young New Zealander of the Year Award.

Kami is backed by other Silicon Valley investors including Sam Altman (Y Combinator), Scott Nolan (Founders Fund), and Right Side Capital Management, as well as the NZ-based Flying Kiwi Angels.

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