Founder Jen Lexmond
Sector Early years education
Cohort EE5 (2016)
Location London, UK
Ben Whately (co-founder of Memrise, 9m language learners) and George Burgess (founder of Gojimo, a school revision app used by 25% of exam takers in the UK).
Total raised after Emerge Education £711,000
November 2014: Idea hatched through Design Challenge
2015–2016: Rigorous academic trial with University of Oxford
February 2016: Joins Emerge Education
August 2016: Raises >£700k in angel investment
2017: 9 local authorities and 10,000+ families
2018: National roll-out supported by the EEF
What is it?
EasyPeasy is a mobile app that encourages preschoolers and parents to bond and learn through positive play. Short video clips, featuring real families, show off games that help develop key skills kids need to succeed at school, designed in consultation with early years experts.
Why we invested
Evidence shows that almost half of all children in the UK (and two out of three from disadvantaged backgrounds) arrive at school without crucial learning skills. From this young age, differences in outcomes are amplified across their lifetimes. The more engaged with their kids parents are, the quicker such skills – resilience, independent decision-making, ability to concentrate – develop.
Investments in the future of preschoolers have the highest rate of educational, social, and economic return. By giving parents ideas for fun games that develop key skills, EasyPeasy provides children with effective informal learning experiences at scale and near-zero cost. The alternative, face-to-face parent coaching, is prohibitively expensive.
Jen Lexmond is an entrepreneurial expert in character education and early years development. With a long track record in research and policy intervention design, she is passionate about social mobility and evidence-led approaches to improving children’s life chances.
Jen’s inspiration for EasyPeasy came from her research into how disparities in early childhood development drive social inequality. Frustrated by the failure of public policy to come up with an effective and scalable solution, Jen set out to create one herself. Grants from the Design Council (in 2014) and the Sutton Trust (in 2015) helped her get to a stage where she had a working product and a University of Oxford study tracing its impact underway. To build a sustainable business, Jen needed to know that EasyPeasy would get the attention of commercially-minded investors. This was where Emerge Education came in:
From day one it was clear to my Venture Partners that we needed to focus. We were pushing both a B2C and B2B market entry strategy, and they made it clear that we would spread our precious resources too thin if we tried to address both. They encouraged me to play to our strengths and focus on B2B.
Through the Emerge Education programme, EasyPeasy refined their business model, focusing on local authorities instead of individual nurseries to grow quickly and achieve scale. With an iterative approach to product and business development, Jen made the most of advice on how to use her personal strengths to close each sale:
We interviewed users, hypothesized, tested, and underwent a process of relentless iteration, building a ‘never finished’ culture I am proud of. It’s all paying off – in 2017, we closed 9 local authorities, over the summer holidays no less!
Over the three months at Emerge, I achieved my goal. My team and I are creating a commercially viable, fast-growing business that will contribute to many people living happier lives. Society will benefit socially and economically.
With help from Emerge Education, EasyPeasy secured their first round of funding in August 2016 to grow the team and speed up product development.
In November 2016, the University of Oxford announced that its trial of EasyPeasy in 144 families saw statistically significant gains in children’s fundamental learning skills and parents’ ability to set and maintain boundaries.
EasyPeasy now reaches over 10,000 families. Awarded a £359,824 grant from the Education Endowment Foundation in April 2017, the team are rolling out nation-wide from January 2018.