Zen Educate Raises $37M and Buys Aquinas Education to Help Solve Teacher Shortage

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Zen Educate, an online marketplace that connects schools with teachers, has raised $37 million in a Series B round of funding.

The raise comes amid a growing teacher shortage crisis on both sides of the pond, with a recent report from ADP Research Institute noting that the global pandemic worsened the existing supply/demand imbalance due to “stagnant wages and a stressful work environment.”

Founded in London in 2017, Zen Educate replaces traditional third-party recruitment agencies that often rely on analog workflows and charge exorbitant fees. Zen Educate digitizes the process through a self-serve platform, removing costly intermediaries. Teachers and schools create profiles on the platform, and Zen Educate can automatically match the two based on factors such as proximity, skills, experience, and other preferences.

Schools can use Zen Educate to hire for full-time roles, while teachers can find temporary or part-time roles that fit around their lives more easily.

“Like in all areas, educators are looking for greater flexibility in their work, and thus, there is a greater need for flexible working solutions in education like Zen Educate,” said Zen Educate co-founder and CEO Slava Kremerman.

Additionally, Zen Educate promises higher pay since it takes a smaller cut than incumbent agencies.

“The average incumbent industry take rate is between 35-38%,” Kremerman said. “We’re a little over half that. As a result, teachers earn more and schools save money.”

Zen Educate app
Zen Educate app
Image Credits: Zen Educate

Expansion

Zen Educate raised a $21 million Series A round in late 2022 as it aimed to expand into the U.S. market after a soft launch in Minneapolis. Currently, the company operates across four additional states — Texas, Colorado, California, and Arizona — along with 11 regions in England. More than 15% of its 300-strong workforce is now based in the U.S.

“From the Minneapolis soft-launch, we are now the second-largest provider in the state,” Kremerman said. “We are live across five states and we are working with nine of the top 200 largest school districts in the U.S.”

Kremerman also noted that its technology-based approach has helped it adapt to the differing regulatory environment in the U.S.

“Licensing is state-specific, whereas England and Wales have a standardized national standard,” Kremerman said. “We’re able to use our credentialing technology to adapt and roll out quickly between states, whereas most traditional staffing firms struggle with this.”

With an additional $37 million in funding, the company plans to expand into more U.S. and U.K. markets and launch new software for school administrators, including tools for credentialing, compliance, and absence management within its school workforce management software.

Zen Educate is also enhancing its resources through acquisitions, recently announcing its second-ever acquisition with the purchase of the teacher staffing agency Aquinas Education. The company plans to complete several more acquisitions in both the U.S. and U.K.

Notably, Aquinas Education counts former professional soccer player turned TV presenter Jermaine Jenas as one of its owners. Following this acquisition, Jenas now joins Zen Educate as a brand ambassador.

Zen Educate’s Series B round was led by Round2 Capital, with participation from Adjuvo, Brighteye Ventures, FJ Labs, Ascension Ventures, and several angel investors.

Paul Sawers
Paul Sawers
Paul Sawers is a senior writer based in London, focused largely on the world of UK And European startups. However, he also writes about other subjects that he’s passionate about, such as the business of open source software. Previously, Paul gained more than a decade’s experience covering consumer and enterprise technologies for VentureBeat and The Next Web.

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