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Sweden’s DigiExam raises $3.5M Series A for digital test and grading platform

TechCrunch TechCrunch 6/05/2016 Steve O'Hear

Swedish edtech startup DigiExam, which also has offices in the U.S. and U.K., offers software-as-a-service for academic testing and grading. It enables students to take tests digitally and in turn teachers to grade the results more efficiently.

To fuel further international expansion, the Stockholm-headquartered company has closed $3.5 million in Series A funding in a round led by what is being described as a syndicate of tech entrepreneurs and investors from Europe and Asia, including Joen Bonnier, of the Bonnier family, owner of the largest media group in Sweden.

Previous backers Gustav Söderström (CPO of Spotify), Sophia Bendz (former CMO of Spotify), and Sven Hagströmer (early investor and previous Chairman of Unicorn Klarna) also participated. The new funding follows an earlier $1.5 million seed round and brings total raised by DigiExam to $5 million.

“The process of creating exams and most importantly grading exams is both time-consuming and tedious and takes time away from teaching and inspiring the kids and the students,” says DigiExam co-founder and Johan Hägglund, explaining the problem the startup has set out to solve. “We believe that the teachers are the killer app in the learning journey”.

Along with focusing on ease-of-use — in recognition that digital assessment tools are often viewed by teachers as too complex or time consuming to implement and manage — the software addresses a number of other potential pitfalls related to making tests digital. It’s been designed to optionally work offline and also has a cheat-beating feature that stops students browsing the web while taking tests. ‘Teacher bias’ is also mitigated because DigiExam ensures that tests can remain anonymous for the person doing the grading.

“We believe that both formative assessments and higher stakes exams should be digital and not pen and paper based, as students are digitally native and this is the way they learn and how they deliver all other work,” adds Hägglund. “Therefore, we designed a product that is super intuitive and easy to use for the teacher so to ensure that they actually will use it and allowing it to be 100 per cent reliable and can work both on and offline without any risk that data is lost”.

Rather smartly, DigiExam appears to be employing a strategy similar to the way Yammer originally penetrated the enterprise. It lets individual teachers sign up and starting using the SaaS for free, who, says Hägglund, then become advocates for the service and can help persuade a school’s leadership to buy a site-wide license.

“Typically we see a handful of teachers at schools and universities who hear about us through referrals and start exploring the platform. These teachers start testing and then become evangelists and introduce it to their colleagues. We haven’t spent any money on marketing and we have grown organically so far”.

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