TheNextWeb covered an interesting investment in Brazil last week. Veduca, an online video platform in the higher education space received $740k led by Mountain do Brazil with participation of 500 Startups. As we all know, Dave McClure and his team have quite some interest in education and the LatAm market.
As you can tell from the short description of Veduca above, the platform is quite similar to iTunesU, YouTube EDU, Academic Earth or Udemy and its Faculty Project. And of course Veduca is also using the same well-known courses from big universities that are available on the Internet under a creative commons licence.
The twist is that Veduca is subtitling all the courses in Brazilian Portuguese. According Carlos Souza, CEO of Veduca, only 2% of Brazilians are speaking English good enough to make proper use of these resources. By translating them into Portuguese Veduca wants to give a bigger group of interested learners access to the lectures of top tier universities.
Like on other platforms in this space the videos are available to watch free of charge. Veduca’s plan to monetize the platform relies on sales of complementary content like selling the matching textbooks for the courses.
Veduca also created two patented technologies for its platform that lets users search for terms inside of the videos and a tool that associates news to relevant videos. I suppose these two technologies are also the main reason for Mountain do Brazil and 500 Startups to invest into the startup as the platform itself is not really groundbreaking technology and subtitles can also be created on a crowdsourced basis, something that 500 Startups knows very well based on their early investment in this space through Viki.
Those two technologies could potentially become crucial parts for the popular and heavily funded MOOCs like Udacity, Coursera or edX and hence there is a good chance that players in this field are either going to licence the technology from Veduca or do a talent acquisition down the road.
I wonder why no startup in the LatAm education space is creating something similar based on the universities in the region instead of relying on the free material that US based campuses are uploading on the Internet. Same is true for Europe, of course. I think there is some big potential in recording lectures of renown professors in South America.
Veduca is going to use the funding to subtitle the lectures into Spanish to cover the entire LatAm market and wants to spread into other emerging markets eventually.