Riyadh-based online learning platform Noon Academy has raised $8.6 million Series A co-led by Raed Ventures and Saudi Technology Ventures (STV), the startup announced today. It is the largest ever funding round raised by an EdTech startup from the Middle East & North Africa.
The round was also joined by Saudi-based Alisamiah Investment, Saudi Venture Capital Company (SVC), and different individual investors including Careem co-founder Abdulla Elyas, Dr. Abdulrahman Aljadhai, CEO of Elm, and Mazen Aljubair.
Raed Ventures’ Omar Almajdouie, STV’s Hani Enaya and Careem co-founder Abdulla Elyas (who invested in his individual capacity) will join Noon Academy’s Board of Directors.
Founded in 2013 by Mohammed Aldhalaan and Dr. Abdulaziz AlSaeed, Noon Academy that had initially as a simple test prep website is now a social learning platform that enables students to study with friends in groups, compete with one another, and request top tutors on demand. The students, per statement, spend over 60 minutes (on average) on the app per visit, vastly exceeding the EdTech industry average of 14 minutes per visit.
Noon’s web and mobile-based platform offers tutoring and free educational content following a premium model, with users having free access to basic content. For advanced content and access to private tutors, the users are required to pay a monthly fee. The platform, according to the statement, has attracted 2 million students and 1,500 certified tutors to date.
Noon Academy also focuses on helping students pass the Saudi general aptitude test and the achievement test, and is accredited from the Saudi National Centre of Assessment (QIYAS).
Mohammed Aldhalaan, Co-Founder and CEO of Noon Academy, commenting on the occasion, said, “The biggest issue in studying isn’t comprehension; rather, it’s boredom, and that’s where Noon Academy’s unique social learning platform achieves what others can’t. Noon is transforming into an open platform, where teachers around the world can start their own educational groups, allowing exceptional teachers to organically cultivate their own following and generate additional income through excellent performance and positive reviews.
“This approach not only dramatically improves student motivation, but also allows exceptional teachers to teach thousands of students in one group, making high-quality education accessible and affordable to the masses,” he added.
Omar Almajdouie, Founding Partner of Raed Ventures, said, “We see incredible promise in this industry, and in Noon Academy in particular, and look forward to seeing how Mohammed and Abdulaziz will continue to build this exciting company. Many platforms are working on accessibility of education, but Noon has a unique focus on students’ motivation, which tackles the real problem students face today.”
Abdulrahman Tarabzouni, CEO of STV, added, “With around 6 million students in Saudi Arabia alone, and far more across the wider region, providing better access to education and study opportunities has never been more important. We’re very excited about this sector, and the vision of Mohammed and Abdulaziz in creating Noon academy, which combines technology with great teachers to make studying easier and more efficient for millions of students across the Middle East.”
The statement citing a report by EdTechXGlobal also noted that the global EdTech market will reach $252 billion by 2020.
Noon currently employees a team of over 90 engineers, designers, and content creators. The company also employs 50 part-timers who contribute to the development of original content on the app.