South African children’s education venture, Play Sense, has morphed into a proper edtech startup after securing USD 458 K (ZAR 8.25 Mn) in funding from US-based VC firm, Enygma Ventures.
Play Sense launched in Cape Town in 2016 as of 2018, the business had 22 little home-based schools up and running. Responding to demand in Gauteng, the company had also said it would launch its first Play Sense schools there in June 2018.
Play Sense was co-founded by Meg Faure and Lara Schoenfeld, and it had set itself apart from other programs as a small home-based school for up to six 2-to-3-year-olds.
But in the wake of realities of the COVID-19 pandemic which has forced schools across the globe to close down, Play Sense has opted to take its classes online.
The startup has gone digital, making its curriculum and pre-school format available online to users around the world. Faure says Play Sense overhauled its business model to include a digital offering where children can access their imagination-based play sessions virtually.
The transition from offline classes to e-learning was facilitated by the investment from Enygma Ventures. Last year, the US-based VC firm launched a fund with the aim of investing in businesses founded by women entrepreneurs in the SADC region, and Play Sense appears to be the first of such investments.
According to Faure, it took just two weeks for Play Sense to complete the transition and the pivot now sees the startup offer a home-based education solution, including virtual contact time between teachers and learners, and activity ideas and learning support for parents.
“This will meet the critical needs of parents and their little ones during this period of isolation,” she said.
“We believe that the way families choose to educate their children will be impacted long term and the choice of at-home or small group setting will become the norm of the future. This funding means that we can roll our programme out internationally.”
Sarah Dusek, who co-founded Enygma Ventures with her husband, Jacob “Jake” Dusek, said she was excited about how Play Sense had successfully pivoted its business, adapting its model to serve parents and children during this unprecedented time of schooling from home.
“We are exceptionally proud of the entrepreneurs we are working with, that even in the midst of this COVID-19 crisis, we are seeing amazing resilience, creativity, and ability to pivot their businesses and respond under pressure,” she said.