Edtech startup IMAX Program raises $13.5M from MSDF, LGT Impact and Aspada 


IMAX Program will use this funding to further invest in product innovation and geographical expansion.

Edtech startup IMAX Program has announced that it has raised $13.5 million in its latest round of funding.

The investment was advised by LGT Impact, the impact investment team of LGT. The round also saw participation from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation (MSDF), and Aspada, an existing investor in the company.

The IMAX Program includes textbooks, workbooks, school exams, feedback reports and individualised remedial worksheets along with teacher manuals and teacher training modules.

The uniqueness of the programme is in using the regular school exam data to provide individualised remedial worksheets. To ensure smooth integration with schools, the technology platform works at the backend to deliver exams, reports and remedial worksheets in print. The exam-remediation loop ensures that the key learning gaps are identified and bridged, thereby maximising learning. 

Till date, IMAX Program has delivered more than 1.7 million individualised remedial worksheets and has served over 800 schools.

The IMAX Program is based on the insights of the co-founders, Naveen Mandava and Varun Kumar, from their work in education impact evaluation consulting, working with organisations like Sesame Street, American India Foundation and Johns Hopkins University.

In 2015, Aspada invested $1.8 million to help Naveen and Varun take affordable technology to the classroom to enhance the school’s ability to measure and impact learning outcomes effectively.

The current infusion of funds in 2018 will be used to further innovate the product, enhance in-school service experience and expand the customer base through multiple distribution channels. IMAX will also explore working with K12 publishers internationally, to deliver high quality in-school remedial programmes to a global student base.

Varun said, “We are excited to have MSDF and LGT Impact on board with Aspada, our existing investor. Their experience will be critical to our growth story. We have a high-energy team of 300 members led by the founders and our CBO Janardan Singh, and our CTO Yogi Kulkarni, with a combined total experience of over 60 years. With this round, we will now further deliver a better experience for our customers and partners, and accelerate the expansion of our commercial operations in India. We will also be selectively looking at prospective markets abroad. We aim to impact two million students by 2020.”

Naveen Mandava and Varun Kumar, founders - IMAX Program

Naveen said, “Our vision at IMAX Program is to help ‘create the best version of each learner’. We can achieve this by leveraging technology where a child can receive individualised content, appropriate for their level, gaps and interest. Using the millions of incoming data points from school exams, we can continuously upgrade our teacher lesson plans, textbook content and remedial worksheets. We want to invest in developing the product further to predict and remediate learning gaps as frequently as possible. As of today, no publisher or edtech player in India is able to influence classroom learning using student data. That needs to change.”  

Commenting on the investment in the IMAX Program, Prachi Windlass, Director, India Programs, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation, said, “Education in India is waiting for its data revolution. We need models that leverage technology for applying data and analytics to improve learning outcomes for every student. However, there are genuine challenges in implementing such models due to variety in curriculum, pedagogy and assessments across multiple states in the country. IMAX Program’s full-stack learning system has demonstrated that it can achieve scale and be adopted successfully in schools with monthly school fees as low as $10 per student. We are excited to support the talented team at IMAX Program in their journey to impact student learning outcomes.”

Govind Shivkumar, advising LGT Impact, said, “We believe that IMAX Program has developed the right set of business and technology capabilities to increase learning quality in schools. With the experience of the promoters, and an execution-focused team, they will be able to sustainably expand their customer base in India and abroad. Their product will be especially valuable for many schools in Asia and Africa, where access to technology is a constraint.”  

Anoop Polavaram, Operating Partner, Aspada, said, "Over the last 3 years, IMAX Program has carved out a new category in the K-12 edtech space by reinventing school exams to capture data on individual student’ capabilities so the learning loop can be completed through personalised programs. With a solid leadership team in place, Varun and Naveen will now embark on the next phase to scale the model. The company's access to student data through school assessments places it in a unique position to become a canonical leader in the K-12 space. We are glad to continue investing in the team and their vision.”

India holds an important place in the global education industry. The country has more than 1.5 million schools with over 260 million students enrolled and about 751 universities and 35,539 colleges. The sector is currently pegged at US$ 2 billion and is expected to reach US$ 5.7 billion by 2020.