Frequently asked questions


What is Emerge Education?

What can I expect from Emerge Education?

Emerge Education supports you from pre-seed through to 100k MRR and your Series A. That might take 1 year, 3 years or 5 years but it is our intent to be there with you on this journey, helping where needed each and every month. That help will come in two forms: 1) access to expertise on scaling startups, and 2) access to a network of potential customers, partners and investors. We have built up this expertise and network through years of focusing on investment in education companies.

You will kick off with a 2-day CEO foundation retreat, which is the only compulsory part of our services. This will give us a chance to get to know each other and agree a set of bespoke goals for your company, as well as introduce you to our network to give you a flying start. From that point on, you will have access to an ongoing series of bootcamps (from fundraising to pitching to hiring), webinars (on subjects such as sales for schools or universities, impact assessment, or user testing) and opportunities to interact with key decision-makers and other entrepreneurs (for example, through our HE and K12 advisory boards, investor showcases, or conferences).

You will choose which elements are most relevant to you in year 1 and can come back in future years as your team grows. Every quarter, we get in touch to find out what you are focused on achieving right now and work alongside you to help you get there. Each month, we will look to provide you with valuable opportunities, whether through new contacts, specific advice, or help with fundraising.

So, is Emerge Education an accelerator?

No. In the past, we structured our services around a 14-week fixed programme of events for each investment cohort, but this is no longer the case. Instead, as an Emerge company you can expect an annual schedule of events and interactions with the Emerge team, with as much access to it in three years from now as on the day of investment. These will include bootcamps on specific topics, webinars, regular coaching from our Venture Partners and, most importantly, opportunities to connect with our network. We aim to provide you with a continuous stream of value to benefit from as and when you need it, for as long as you need it.

To give you an idea, in 2018 we hosted 10+ events to introduce our startups to our network, made hundreds of direct introductions to schools, universities, publishers and investors for our companies, and ran 20+ workshops and 250+ one-to-one coaching sessions. In 2019, we are focusing even more on providing all of our 50+ portfolio companies with opportunities to connect with key decision-makers in their industries.

You’ve mentioned Venture Partners. Who are they?

A Venture Partner is an experienced entrepreneur or business leader with a deep understanding of your business model, customer group or market. They invest personally into those companies on each cohort that they feel they can add the most value to and are most excited by.

Venture Partners work with founders for an hour each week, providing strategic and tactical advice, and open up their network.

We believe that mentoring is most effective when incentives are aligned (which is why the Venture Partners usually invest their own money into the startups they support) and when support is delivered by a few key people, over a long period of time. You can see some of our Venture Partners here.

What funding do we get if selected?

Each startup receives £50k-£200k investment. The amount of money invested and the valuation is decided on a case by case basis.

Do I get desk space?

Yes, for your first month you will have 3 free desks here at Edspace, the UK’s hub for innovation in education. Other tenants include fledgling school chains and educational charities as well as high-growth edtech startups. We are located in Hackney Community College in Shoreditch, central London.

Are we a good fit?

How do you evaluate investment opportunities?

We initially look at the strength of the team, the power of the idea and the level of engagement to date. We then examine the company's potential to achieve rapid growth. In our experience, these kinds of companies adopt one of two general business models: building network effects and content unbundling.

Content unbundling: these companies create value by moving beyond the 'one size fits all' model, enabling consumers or employers to access education in a modular way. Technology makes it possible to deliver this education at scale with consistent quality. These companies sustain value by building trusted education brands that become household names in certain niche categories.

Network effects: these companies create value by digitising core processes in teaching, learning, and their administration. They maintain that value by building large networks of interdependent users and content suppliers and by building large, valuable data sets about those users. Once at scale, these networks and data sets make such companies extremely difficult to displace.

What do you look for in a founder?

We evaluate each team on six key criteria:

> Startup or enterprise experience
> Level of customer empathy
> Ability to reach customers
> Ability to build the technology
> Experience of working together as a team
> Whether they are both open-minded and determined

At what stage do you invest?

We invest into companies from prototype stage when they have only a handful of customers, all the way through to those generating £50k MRR. Most companies have validated their solution, present good engagement metrics and can demonstrate good customer demand. The average startup has raised £250k upon working with Emerge Education and turn over around £20k per month. It is unlikely we will invest at a valuation over £5m.

Is my company too advanced to benefit from Emerge Education?

We partner with a handful of established companies entering the UK education market. They work with us to understand the market and how to position themselves within it. We act as a bridge from the company to decision makers within the sector. These companies typically are focused on schools or higher education and have considerable market share in their home markets, with revenues over $5m. Email for more information.

We’ve already raised some funding. Can we still apply for investment?

Yes. The average Emerge Education company has raised £250k by the time we partner with them. However, we have invested both in companies that have raised more and ones with no prior funding. Raising capital is not a pre-requisite for entry into the programme.

Do you invest outside of your growth services model?

Yes, on occasion. These are generally fringe cases where the companies are more developed and we have existing relationships with the founders.

Do you work with not-for-profits?

We do not fund non-profit organisations. Emerge Education syndicates each investment between angel or institutional investors and the startups in each investment cohort. The Emerge investors are seeking significant social and commercial returns.

If you are a not-for-profit, please look at Edspace, our 11k sq ft co-working space exclusively for education organisations, which has many non-profit members.

How many companies do you work with?

We select and invest in roughly 5 startups per year, out of roughly 1000 proposals. We have supported over 50 edtech companies to date.

The Nuts and Bolts

Do we need to submit a business plan?

A business plan is not necessary, all the information we need is covered in the application form.

Do we need to move to London?

No. 60% of startups in our portfolio are based outside of the UK. Some have set up shop here, whilst others visit us on a regular basis.

Do we have to be UK citizens?

No. While we don’t provide visas, we are an official endorser of the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa.

Should we incorporate a company before applying?

No. If you have not already incorporated your company, we recommend that you wait to do so because it’s easier to start with our standard paperwork.

Do we have to start a company in the UK for you to invest in us?

We have a preference for investing in UK companies because of the SEIS and EIS tax incentive scheme. It will be easier for you to raise capital in the UK if you are SEIS- or EIS-eligible, as it widens the pool of potential investors. It’s easy for foreign nationals to start UK companies (much easier than remaining here physically), and investors and acquirers prefer them.

If you already have an existing non-UK company, there are options to create a UK Top CO.

How much time do I have to committ?

Just 2 days for a compulsory founders’ retreat when you first become an Emerge company. The rest of the services are opt-in and include a rolling series of events, mentoring sessions and opportunities to interact with our network. This might average out to 1 day per month for a year.

How long does it take to receive investment?

From 2 weeks to 2 months depending on your company situation. If you have not set up a UK company then you can use our standard templates and we can sign immediately. On the other end of the spectrum, if your company is registered outside the UK and you opt for a shareswap, it can take far longer. We can talk you through all the options.

Keeping in Touch

Are you hiring?

We – and our portfolio companies – are always looking for great people to work with us. Sign up to our newsletter where we regularly advertise opportunities from our network.

How can I keep in touch with you?

1. Email if you have any further questions

2. Each month we invite founders for breakfast and a discussion on what we look for in our startup investments and partners. Please join us.

3. Sign up to our newsletter to receive regular news and insights from the Emerge Education team.

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