Holtzbrinck Digital and RI Digital Ventures invest Series A in e-learning platform Patience

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Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 10.52.57

EXCLUSIVE – “We are on a mission to enable virtually anybody to teach online,” says Nikolaus Thomale, founder & CEO of Patience (www.patience.io). This mission convinced Holtzbrinck Digital and RI Digital Ventures, among others, to lead a series A round into the Berlin-based startup. The size of the round has not been disclosed.

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Patience is a white-label solution that allows educators (e. g. tutors, training companies, publishers, schools, universities and non-profit organizations) to easily create and manage their own online learning applications and sell their courses through their own websites.

Holtzbrinck Digital, which leads the A round, is known for its latest investments in bettermarks and tutoria. “Patience demonstrates innovation. It enables educators in different fields to make their knowledge accessible to the world by using this technology. Platforms like this will play an increasing role in the future of education,” says Markus Schunk, CEO at Holtzbrinck Digital.

After last week’s announcement of focussing on e-learning, digital publishing and marketplaces, it makes sense for Patience to work with Holtzbrinck Digital. Additional reasons are the investor’s experience and network in that area, as well as the team itself, Patience states.

“left”]RI Digital Ventures, known as investors of fashion startup OUTFITTERY and interior design startup Westwing, also came on board. Founder and CEO Thomale “values the team around Jochen Gutbrod in a professional and personal way”, having known them for years, he adds.

“Most important for us was to find the right investors; timing was secondary. Thus, in previous months, we were talking to different potential shareholders in order to better understand who really has the right strategic, professional and also personal fit,” Thomale says. He adds: “In the end, we were surprised how fast the actual due diligence went – especially with Holtzbrinck which is usually looking at comparatively large targets.”

As he explains, an earlier seed capital investment came from various industry relevant business angels, among them Michael Jacobi (formerly Bertelsmann), Jan Henne De Dijn (former CEO Langenscheidt, Hamburg Media School, Home Shopping Europe), Moritz Kork (Groupon), Moritz Elfers (BC Partners) as well as a group of entrepreneurs, and himself.

The potential which the e-learning market offers is huge. According to Crunchbase, other startups such as New York-based Knewton (which also focuses on providing data driven learning technology to educators), received an overall funding of $105 million. Udemy, an online course marketplace, has raised $48 million.

Being aware of the competition, but also of the market size, Patience states a clear vision: “We are building the operating system of the future for learning.”

“The investment will be used to scale the team and to enter new markets to spread our vision. We want to empower as many people and institutions as possible to share their knowledge and be part of the massive change in education,” Thomale says.

Patience, the team & the story behind

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Moritz Hunsdiek (COO), Nikolaus Thomale (CEO), Daniel Berndt (Chief Data Scientist), Jan Zimmek (CTO)

Having experienced the success of being taught by a private tutor, Thomale envisioned to make this personal learning environment more accessible to other people. Together with data scientist Daniel Berndt, he started Jurio – an online learning platform for law students. Seeing the concept working well for both students and the tutor, the two decided to build a white-label solution of the technology to empower different kinds of educators to create their own application. This was then co-founded with Moritz Hunsdiek as a COO and Jan Zimmek as a CTO.

Finding a name for the startup did not take long: “Patience is one of the most important attributes of a private tutor,” Thomale states. “As our ultimate vision is to scale the abilities of those tutors with the help of our technology, we thought it might be nice to hint towards that with our name.”