Zen Educate raises $37M and acquires Aquinas Education as it tries to address the teacher shortage

Zen Educatean online marketplace that connects schools with teachers, has raised $37 million in a Series B round of funding.

The raise comes amid a growing teacher shortage crisis both sides of the pondwith a recent report from ADP Research Institute noting that the global pandemic exacerbated the existing supply/demand imbalance due to “stagnant wages and a stressful work environment.”

Founded out of London in 2017, Zen Educate replaces traditional third-party recruitment agencies that often use analog workflows and charge exorbitant fees. Zen Educate digitizes everything through a self-serve platform, removing pricey intermediaries from the equation in the process. Through the platform, teachers and schools create profiles and Zen Educate can automatically match the two entities based on their compatibility– this uses data such as proximity, skills, experience, among other preferences.

Schools can use Zen Educate to hire for full-time roles, but teachers can also use it to more easily find temporary or part-time roles that fit around their lives.

“Like in all areas, educators are looking for greater flexibility in their work, and thus, there is a greater need for flexible working solutions in education like Zen Educate,” Zen Educate co-founder and CEO Slava Kremerman told TechCrunch.

On top of that, Zen Educate also promises higher pay, given that it takes a smaller cut than incumbent agencies

“The average incumbent industry take rate is between 35-38%,” Kremerman said. “We’re a little over half that. As a result, teachers earn more and schools save money.”

Zen Educate app
Image Credits: Zen Educate

Expansion

Zen Educate raised a $21 million Series A round in late 2022 as it sought to expand into the U.S. market after soft-launching in Minneapolis. Today, the company operates across four additional states — Texas, Colorado, California, and Arizona — on top of 11 regions in England. And more than 15% of its 300 workforce are now based in the U.S.

“From the Minneapolis soft-launch, we are now the second-largest provider in the state,” Kremerman said. “We are live across five states and we are working with nine of the top 200 largest school districts in the U.S.”

Kremerman also said that its technology-based approach has helped it adapt to the different regulatory environment in the U.S.

“Licensing is state-specific, whereas England and Wales have a standardised national standard,” Kremerman said. “We’re able to use our credentialing technology to adapt and roll out quickly between states, whereas most traditional staffing firms struggle with this.”

With another $37 million in the bank, the company said it’s planning to expand into more markets across the U.S. and U.K., and launch new software for school administrators, which includes adding to its school workforce management software that packs tools for credentialing, compliance, and absence management.

Furthermore, Zen Educate is also bolstering its resources through acquisitions, announcing its second-ever acquisition today with the purchase of teacher staffing agency Aquinas Education. The company said that it intends to complete several more acquisitions both in the U.S. and U.K.

Notably, Aquinas Education counts former professional soccer player turned TV presenter Jermaine Yen as one of its owners, and following this acquisition Jenas now joins Zen Educate as brand ambassador.

Zen Educate’s Series B round was led by Round2 Capital, with participation from Adjuvo, Brighteye Ventures, FJ Labs, Ascension Ventures, and several angels.

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