New Enterprise Associates Joins $6M Round For BenchPrep

BenchPrep, the world’s only interactive marketplace and learning platform that works across desktop, iPhone, iPad and Android devices, today announced that the company closed a successful $6 million venture capital round led by New Enterprise Associates (NEA) with participation from Revolution Ventures.

Since the launch last year of its learning platform, BenchPrep has experienced rapid growth, working with top education publishers to create interactive, personalized courses for high school and college coursework, professional certifications, academic test preparations and more. In 2010, BenchPrep had raised a round of funding from Lightbank, a Chicago based venture capital fund started by Eric Lefkosky and Brad Keywell, both of whom would continue to serve as board of directors. The company will use the fresh infusion of capital to develop additional courses and expand its user base.

“Our goal is to become the platform students use to study for any subject from any publisher on any device,” said BenchPrep co-founder Ashish Rangnekar. “We’re focused on creating interactive courses and already have one of the largest libraries. We go beyond creating videos and eBooks — we take content from books, study guides, video lectures, question banks and flashcards and combine them to create truly interactive and personalized courses.”

The marketplace response to BenchPrep’s vision has been impressive, accounting for the investor excitement that met the recent funding round. The platform was launched in July 2011 with two publishers and five courses. The course library grew to 100 within just 10 months, and the company expects to offer 500 courses by the end of the year. BenchPrep’s unique approach completely disrupts the current industry-pricing model by delivering the value of a comprehensive course for a price point comparable to that of a book.

“The BenchPrep scalable course creation technology can take any standard digital book and build an interactive, personalized, cross-platform course in a single day,” said BenchPrep co-founder Ujjwal Gupta. “And publishers, wary of committing resources to an interactive course development project that requires a specific operating system or device type, are enthusiastically embracing our device-agnostic platform.”

Since the company began with two publishers a year ago, its publishing partner roster has grown to more than 20, including top publishers such as McGraw Hill, Princeton Review, Wiley, Cengage Learning, O’Reilly, Sourcebooks and many more. BenchPrep delivers unique value to publishers by providing a new direct-to-consumer distribution channel.

“Investing in technology to improve education is very important to NEA — and it’s a large, $1 trillion plus market,” said Peter Barris, general partner, NEA, who joins the BenchPrep board of directors. “The BenchPrep team is tackling one of education’s most fragmented segments — exam preparation — and unlocking huge potential by turning static print content into interactive content accessible across multiple platforms and devices. We are especially impressed by the significant traction the team is seeing on both sides — the acceleration among publishers adopting the platform, and the students signing up at a rapid rate and spending more and more time online with the coursework.”

BenchPrep’s powerful platform is convenient to use because it aggregates all courses on a single platform. For example, a high school student can study for subjects like Calculus or Biology, any AP exam, and important college admissions exams like SAT all from the same interface. It is personalized with robust analytics across publishers, study subjects and devices, and it delivers an adaptive learning experience with a single user interface for all functions. These features make BenchPrep highly popular with a growing student user base.

BenchPrep is currently used by more than 250,000 students, two-thirds of whom access their courses on mobile devices. BenchPrep’s analytics help students focus on the areas where they need the most help, and its sync function allows students to pick up where they left off in their studies no matter which device they’re using. Students average 78 BenchPrep sessions per month, typically spending an average of nine hours a month engaged in interactive learning.
With an incredible array of tools to promote lifelong learning and an industry-disrupting pricing and learning delivery strategy, BenchPrep is poised to continue its strong growth trajectory. Find out more about BenchPrep at www.benchprep.com .

About BenchPrep
BenchPrep is a marketplace and learning platform for interactive courses for high school, college, professional certifications and more. The company partners with best-in-class publishers, including McGraw Hill, Cengage Learning, and Princeton Review to create courses from flat educational content. BenchPrep is the world’s learning platform where students can study and sync their learning performance in sync across the web, mobile and tablet devices. The company was voted “most innovative and best-in-class test prep and assessment platform” at the 2010 Education Innovation Summit and won the 2010 New Venture Challenge competition at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. BenchPrep has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, TechCrunch, Publishers Weekly and Fast Company as a leading education innovator.

About NEA
NEA is a leading venture capital firm focused on helping entrepreneurs build transformational businesses across multiple stages, sectors and geographies. With about $11 billion in committed capital, the firm invests in information technology, healthcare and energy technology companies at all stages in a company’s lifecycle, from seed stage through IPO. NEA’s long track record of successful investing includes more than 170 portfolio company IPOs and more than 290 acquisitions. For additional information, visit www.nea.com .

About Revolution Ventures
Revolution Ventures invests in start-ups and early-stage companies founded and led by passionate entrepreneurs. Revolution Ventures is focused on investing in technology-enabled businesses that empower consumers and disrupt existing, multi-billion dollar industries and has invested in more than a dozen companies since being founded in 2005 by Steve Case (co-founder of AOL) and Tige Savage, who serves as President. Revolution Ventures is headquartered in Washington D.C. For more information, visit www.revolution.com/ventures .

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