Greenville-based kinesthetic learning startup ActivEd is taking its next steps, this time receiving $515,000 in angel investment from six groups across the state with a $1 million funding cap.
Born out of published research from Furman University Professor Julian Reed, ActivEd has developed an online tool for teachers to integrate multisensory learning into their classrooms. The angel investment will allow ActivEd to further build out the company’s first product – a kindergarten-through-second-grade tool called Walkabouts – as well as expand their sales reach among educators, said co-founder Matt Ferebee.
“The investment takes us further from a friends and family round to mature the company from the product side,” said Ferebee, who said Walkabouts targets a field of 80,000 public school candidates. “The biggest barrier is there are teachers and educators out there that just don’t know about it.”
Ferebee said the company plans to incrementally add programs for third, fourth and fifth grade, but will continue to build out and sell Walkabouts for now.
More than 60 members participated in the investment, representing Greenville-based Upstate Carolina Angel Network, Columbia-based Capital Angels, Spartanburg Angels and Asheville Angels, as well as investment from The Palmetto Fund that co-invests alongside those groups. Angel investors from Anderson Angels and Charleston-based Lowcountry Angel Network may join in the future, said South Carolina Angel Network Director Paul Clark.
The investment was the first from recently-formed Spartanburg Angels, and also represented one of the first state-wide syndicated investments, which is unusual for angel groups, said Clark. The syndicated approach allows angel groups to more efficiently vet potential investment companies, and can also help startups save time and have more access to capital, he said.
“The angel group would typically do a pretty extensive vetting process,” he said. “But in this one, one group can use the previous group’s vetting to make it more efficient.”
Clark said ActivEd was unique in that it uses movement to help students understand concepts, rather than simply using movement as a break from learning. “There were some people that do fitness for kids, and some people that do education, but none that we found that do teaching through actual movement,” he said. “In the next five years, the goal is for them to be selling their product in 10,000 schools across the U.S.”
South Carolina Research Authority invested $200,000 in ActivEd through its SCRA Technology Ventures’ SC Launch program in October, but previously was funded by friends and family, said Ferebee. Other team members include Brewster Crosby and Dayton Johnson, as well as a network of independent sales representatives and partners.