BeSmart.net, a Russian startup that presents itself as a “universal trading platform for Internet users to buy and sell educational and informative materials,” will receive from Hong Kong-based investment fund Education Matrix a total of $4 million over the next three years.
After completing its development on the domestic market, the startup plans to start international expansion. The projected world market for educational content is estimated to reach $49 billion in 2014, with annual growth rates of 12% in the US and 23% in Eastern Europe, according to the startup’s Executive Director Alexander Vulfovich, cited by RIA Novosti.
BeSmart expects annual project income to reach around $15.4 million, and 100,000 lectures will be uploaded to the site within a year. The average lecture will cost about 150 rubles (approximately $4.50).
The new platform sets itself apart by “its quality control of materials and its social network elements. Users can make comments on materials and communicate with each other and organize groups and communities,” BeSmart marketing specialist Olga Yanchevskaya told East-West Digital News.
Online seminars and videoconferences can also be arranged on the resource, and the site’s materials are protected from illegal downloading and copying by technical means.
BeSmart was founded by Alexander Knyazev, a professor at Moscow’s International Institute of Public Administration and Management and a specialist in citizenship, active game-based learning and educational psychology.
Several similar English-language initiatives already exist globally including Mindbites.com, Ehow.com, Howcast.com and Monkeysee.com, while Intellectplanet.com is already present on the Russian market.
Two Russian education startups with international ambitions received venture funding earlier this year: Yaklass, which provides users with theoretical content and allows them to generate problems for students with different answers, and Eduson, which offers courses from leading professors, expert guest lecturers and business celebrities.
Established in 2010, the Hong Kong-based fund focuses on “high quality educational programs,” its spokesman Alexey Osipov told East-West Digital News.
“We had cooperated with Knyazev for many years already, so we followed his suggestion to invest in BeSmart. We hope that this project will be successful and that we will continue investing in Russia,” Osipov added.