OpenClassrooms, a Paris based MOOC platform, announced that it has raised 1 million Euro or $1.4 million dollars from French Venture Capital Firm Alven Capital. This is a follow-up investment after an initial round of 1.2 million Euro by Alven Capital in 2012.
The money will be used to further develop OpenClassroom’s premium offer and simultaneously diminish advertising on the homepage. Premium features will include ebooks, access to videos and live elements.
The OpenClassrooms team will also invest in the development of 5 new online courses, or MOOCs how they call it, the first of which being how to create a website in HTML5 has been released already.
It is remarkable that this is only the second time OpenClassrooms raised money in its 15 years of existence. Of course compared to what US-based MOOC platforms have raised this is just a drop in the ocean. But being in business for a decade and a half by bootstrapping a startup also shows how serious and dedicated the founders of OpenClassrooms are to this project.
For a site that claims to have 2.5 million unique visitors a month it definitely makes sense to try and keep those visitors longer on the homepage itself and get them look around OpenClassroom’s own offers rather than distracting visitors with lots of advertising and potentially leading them away from the website.
Offering MOOCs is equally in fashion in Europe right now as it is in the US, although it is noteworthy that we have seen a faster adoption of what can be called professional or vertical MOOCs in Europe.
OpenClassroom’s first MOOC about how to create a website in HTML5 has attracted more than 20.000 students which makes it the biggest MOOC in the French speaking world. For comparison: the most popular MOOC of France Université Numérique attracted 14.000 students.
The freemium model has been popular in online education for a while and similar strategies have worked rather well for startups like busuu in the language learning vertical.
I interviewed Pierre Dubuc, the co-founder of OpenClassrooms in November. He already mentioned most of the points the team is now going to attack with the funding and it also gives you a good overview about the history of this 15-year old edtech startup in the making.