Aprende Institute, an EdTech platform for the Spanish-speaking population, just closed an investment round of US $22 million. Portada talked to Martin Claure, CEO of Aprende Institute, about the Ed Tech company’s growth plans and the opportunities he sees in the high-growth U.S. Hispanic market.
Small business owners, so-called solopreneurs, are a key foundation of the U.S economy. This is, even more, the case for the U.S. Hispanic market, which over-indexes for entrepreneurship. Based on the U.S. Hispanic market growth potential, investors just closed an investment round of US $22 million in Aprende Institute, a vocational training platform focused on professional development and economic advancement for the Spanish-speaking population.
Aprende Institute has enrolled more than 70,000 students in the last two years by providing a high-quality, flexible and affordable solution to learn high-demand vocational skills in Entrepreneurship, Beauty and Fashion, Gastronomy, Trades, and Wellness. Martin Claure, CEO of Aprende Institute, tells Portada that Aprende Institute learning programs provide practical 3 to 9 months programs that are developed for individuals who have a passion or interest and want to monetize it. “It’s all about economic advancement and personal growth in order to empower them to become an entrepreneur,” Claure asserts. These solopreneurs or future solopreneurs need hard and soft skills including knowledge about understanding costs, set price levels, use social media to build a customer base or management expertise.
According to Claure, the new funding will enable Aprende Institute to attract top-tier talent across all areas, further improve educational offerings and expand services to businesses and institutions to boost growth. “We are developing courses in marketing, sales, negotiation, finance, and other value-added services specifically designed for our student body to acquire the business and soft skills needed to run successful ventures,” Claure explains.
A Community College Online Experience
Aprende Institute’s classes are 100% online. “We produce the content and provide our students on-demand access to experts. Experts moderate conversations and there are also assessments across the curriculum where students are asked to do certain tasks. In addition, there are 2,000 live classes per month. According to Claure, these live classes foster a sense of community and peer-to-peer learning.
The price of classes ranges from US $30 to US $100 per month. Aprende Institute so far has enrolled 70,000 students, with 30,000 students currently studying. “In 2022 we want to enroll 150,000 students,” Claure says. The funding will allow Aprende Institute to continue growing in the U.S. Hispanic Market, its largest market.
Aprende Institute was launched in Mexico, and also has a substantial amount of students in Colombia, but between 70% and 80% of its students are in the U.S.
To gain even more U.S. Hispanic students, Aprende Institute has partnered with Univision, who is also an investor in the new round of investment. Univision will make its product offering more widely accessible to the U.S. Hispanic community. “We will be building a learning channel with Univision, Claure notes. We will be advertising our products in their different platforms and we will be providing our experts for Univision to use in its programming.”
“Spanish-dominant Hispanics are the largest and most underserved demographic in the tech space. There are approximately 43 million Spanish-first consumers in the U.S.” All classes and content are in Spanish, although Claure notes that he is planning to partner with an English -language content provider at some point to teach English to existing students.
Spanish-dominant Hispanics are the largest and most underserved demographic in the tech space. There are approximately 30 million Spanish-first consumers in the U.S.
Aprende Institute’s Marketing
Up until recently, Aprende Institute’s Marketing has revolved around performance marketing, mostly through the use of Facebook, Youtube, and Google. Now with the Univision partnership, Claure hopes to gain more brand recognition through offline marketing including the activation of TV spots. A key element of his marketing going forward, Claure asserts, is to build partnerships with companies that have small businesses as a key audience target.
As an example, Claure cites a partnership with industrial tools and household hardware manufacturer Stanley Black & Decker. Aprende Institute will be building a training and advancement platform for Stanley Black & Decker’s ecosystem. The platform will include instructors and coaching. “Training is a tremendously powerful tool for companies to position their brands and increase loyalty among different participants in their value chains. It’s also a highly effective tool for organizations and institutions that promote social responsibility programs aimed at improving employability and entrepreneurial skills,” Claure notes.
Investors in Aprende Institute
The US $ 22 million investment round was led by Valor Capital Group and included the participation of previous investor Reach Capital. Also participating in the round were strategic and financial investors such as ECMC Group, Univision, Angel Ventures, Capria, Endeavor Catalyst, Artisan Venture Capital, Matterscale, Salkantay Ventures, 500 Startups, The Yard Ventures, Claure Group, and a select group of angel investors. The new financing brings the total raised by Aprende to date to US $27 million. “At Valor, we believe in the transformative potential of education. We have already invested in companies that have drastically changed not only markets but people’s lives through more inclusive education,” says Antoine Colaço, Managing Partner of Valor Capital Group. “Aprende Institute caught our attention for being a social business that, through technology, helps a wide number of people find their true vocation and reach for better opportunities,” he adds.