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Flat World Education Inks $9.5M Funding

          
WASHINGTON, DC, Education content and software company raised a $9.5 million financing round led by Bessemer Venture Partners.
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Flat World Education, an education content and software company focused on enabling higher education institutions to offer innovative courses and degree programs, today announced a development partnership with Brandman University, a high-performing, private, non-profit university based in California. This strategic expansion of Flat World's platform will enable the university to offer an online, competency-based bachelor of business administration (BBA) degree delivered entirely on a mobile device for a total cost that is 65 percent lower than current alternatives.

'While we continue to see success in our e-book publishing business with 60-80 percent year-over-year growth in the last three years, we are taking an important step in a long-term strategy that leverages our well-tuned strengths in developing effective learning technology, content and cultivating deep collaboration with educators,' said Christopher Etesse, CEO of Flat World.

'As an institution, we are always eager to find new ways to remove some of the most challenging roadblocks our students face in obtaining a quality higher education,' said Charles Bullock, provost at Brandman University. 'We're excited to pilot this platform with Flat World, as it enables us to offer students a truly innovative path to earning a bachelor's degree that's built for the digital age.'

Flat World sees an opportunity to expand its platform using deep adaptive learning, mobility and data science to personalize the learning experience and accelerate the progress curve for institutions which are deeply affected by challenges in higher education including the skills gap between graduates and employers.

'There are a number of catalysts making this movement toward personalized learning at scale possible,' said James Rianhard, president of Flat World Education. 'We have an entrepreneurial regulatory awakening, punctuated by the U.S. Department of Education actively seeking new models and encouraging experimental sites, and this is a major game changer. In response, many of our high-performing institutions of higher education are submitting new approaches to achieve more effective learning results at less cost.'

'These models will combine a powerful mix of faculty-mentored learning with algorithmic adaptivity and analytics,' continued Rianhard. 'The convergence of our physical and digital lives means that we will soon have smart learning devices and experiences in our hands 24/7. The team at Brandman are incredible thought partners and co-developers of this new paradigm.'

This expansion builds on Flat World's growing e-book publishing platform, where more than 1 million students have access to affordable, expertly authored textbooks in 77 countries. In addition, Flat World has started working with leading postsecondary innovators on major transformation initiatives in personalized learning to deliver breakthrough results in cost, access, career readiness and lifelong learning without compromising quality or academic rigor.

In support of the company's growth and expansion efforts, Bessemer Venture Partners led a $9.5 million financing round in Flat World with participation by existing investors Valhalla Partners, Tribeca Venture Partners, Penguin Random House Holdings and Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments.

'I see Flat World's development of a mobile-first learning platform for courses or pure-competency based degree programs to be a natural extension of the steady progress the company has enjoyed in the technology and content fronts,' said Chris Gabrieli of Bessemer Venture Partners. 'A Bachelor of Business Administration program for Brandman University is part of an ongoing national conversation about innovative transformation from standardized education to personalized learning.'

'This partnership with Brandman University marks a key step in Flat World's broader vision of personalized learning at scale,' Etesse said. 'By being a strong technology and content partner, Flat World is on a path that can transform a standardized education model to a personalized learning experience powered by mobility, access, adaptivity and analytics.'

About Flat World Education

Founded in 2007, Flat World Education designs and enables personalized learning solutions at scale. Through its Flat World Knowledge e-book publishing platform, over 1 million students in 77 countries have access to affordable, expertly authored textbooks. In partnership with leading postsecondary innovators, Flat World Education also accelerates major transformation initiatives through pioneering personalized, mobile, competency-based learning solutions. By delivering breakthrough results in cost, access, career readiness, and lifelong learning, Flat World Education sees the opportunity for personalized education as an equalizer, not a differentiator. To learn more, visit www.flatworld.com

About Brandman University

Brandman University is a private, nonprofit institution accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). As part of the Chapman University System, Brandman blends a legacy of academic excellence with innovative curriculum and strong support services designed for students with busy schedules. The university offers 50+ undergraduate, graduate, credential and certificate programs across its schools of arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and health. Brandman serves an average of 12,000 students annually with programs available online and at over 25 campuses throughout California and Washington. The university's online programs consistently rank among the top in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. www.Brandman.edu
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