Bringing engagement to the core of the digital student experience, by replacing learning management systems

Founder Anders Krohn, Oli Nicolini, Adrian Franklin
Sector Higher Education
Location London, UK
Impact Full replacement of incumbent LMS at UK university

June 2016: Founding team assembles

December 2016: Emerge invests in £350k Pre-seed with Nordic Makers

March 2018: £3m seed round with BrightEye Ventures & Project A

September 2018: Strong traction with UK universities pilots

September 2019: Full scale university implementation + US expansion

What is it?

Aula is a social learning platform for higher education. It brings engagement to the core of the digital student experience by replacing learning management systems.

Why we invested

The problem

Spending on education and training will grow from $6.5T to $10T by 2030. For example, two universities will need to be built per day for the next 15 years to meet demand. The fundamental bet is that soon, all education will be online-first: designed to be consumed online, even when supplemented with campus teaching.

However current digital infrastructure in education does not allow for engaging, social, learning experiences. These platforms have scaled access to content, not communities.

The solution

Aula replaces emails and learning management systems with a digital infrastructure that combines educational content and social interactions for effective social leaning. Aula are creating online learning experiences which are more social and engaging than the most engaging campus-based teaching.

The founder

Anders went on an educational journey that took him from Denmark to rural Georgia, to Oxford, to Beijing. The most fundamental lesson he learned across 5 universities on 3 continents was that the only thing that really matters in education is engagement. If students don’t engage— with their material, peers, educators, and their own learning process— then learning doesn’t happen.

He took a break from Oxford University, teamed up with co-founders Adrian, who in his previous life founded a specialised technical clothing label, and Oli who designed a medical imaging software called Tissuestack, to create Aula

Where they are now

Getting universities to fully replace incumbent learning management systems like Moodle and Blackboard, the core of their online world, is a momentous task. Aula has now achieved a full scale replacement of a University’s LMS, and is winning multiple 6 digit contracts. Aula’s most promising partner institution resulted from our invitation to an Higher Education network dinner.

For us, Emerge Education is a gift that keeps on giving. They continue to help us win partners, customers and great advice

With strong and significant partnerships both in the UK and the US, Aula is proving it is not just another add on to an existing digital infrastructure, but a fundamental building block of the modern university and the future of university communication. Emerge Education has facilitated relationships between Aula and the 2 largest HE organisations in the UK, Jisc and UUK. As an example Aula was one of the first companies to participate in the Step Up programme – which was co-designed by Emerge Education and Jisc, to speed up HE/FE sales.

Aula, a 50+ remote team, documents how it works in the Aula brain, hosted on a platform called notion. It is a best in class example on how to embody values of transparency and build a remote first organisation.

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