EdTech startup, Blackbullion closes £400k Seed Follow On led by Lord Stanley Fink

Blackbullion, the award-winning edtech company transforming students’ lives through financial literacy, has secured second-round investment of £400K ($525K).

This second tranche of funding was led by Lord Stanley Fink, who will also join the startup’s board, as Chairman. Additional investments came from MPA Education, Emerge Education and JISC, the membership organisation providing digital solutions for UK education and research. It brings the total raised by Blackbullion to £1 million and will be directed towards new product development and expanding its existing suite of solutions for universities.

Founded by former wealth manager, Vivi Friedgut in 2014, Blackbullion has set the challenge to deliver a robust and empowering financial education to a million students within the next two years.

“Money is the last great taboo and it’s our goal to ensure an engaging and effective financial education for young people,” comments Vivi Friedgut. “We’re seeing more universities look at making financial learning mandatory but there’s still a way to go.

Working in partnership with universities means we can drive understanding, empower students with real-world money skills, and help build the confidence and tools they need to design the life they want beyond graduation.”

Blackbullion currently supports 500,000 students across the UK, Australia and New Zealand, through partner universities, including King’s College London, The University of Edinburgh, and the University of South Australia. The start-up has a strong track record in widening participation cohorts, especially for first-in-family students. Its platform is actively used as part of partner university student retention strategies.

Lord Fink says: “Forty years in the financial services world and I’m always surprised how young people lack understanding on the topic – especially given how much we know about the impact of financial stress. I’m a huge fan of how Blackbullion’s thoughtful products have the potential to change students’ lives.”

Melody Lang, Advisor and Investor at MPA Education summarised their decision to invest in Blackbullion: “Very excited to be backing a company with such an important mission, but also one of the most impressive founders I ever met. Vivi’s creating a real legacy through her tech for good ethos and this platform.”

Jan Lynn-Matern, CEO and Co-founder at Emerge Education, added, “Financial education is one of the fundamental pillars of becoming a well-rounded adult.

Despite its importance, it remains very underrepresented in today’s education systems – from schools to universities. We’re thrilled to support Blackbullion in its mission to bring this crucial life skill closer to universities and students, and continue its exciting growth journey.”

The company, which won Edtech Launchpad and was a Financial Innovation Awards finalist, is considering a future raise to drive its global expansion plans.


About Blackbullion

Blackbullion is the award-winning financial education company on a mission to help young people gain financial skills for life. Powered by a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) subscription model, Blackbullion partners with higher education institutions to deliver engaging and effective personalised learning to encourage shifts in financial behaviour of students around the world. Founded in 2014, Blackbullion currently supports university students, with over 500,000 having access to their learning platform.

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Tutor House secures £2m Seed investment from Fuel Ventures

London-based investment fund, Fuel Ventures, has invested GBP2 million in online tutoring platform, Tutor House, which connects parents and families with tutors either in-person or online. 

The site, which is run by education professionals, allows families to search for tutors across an array of subjects and academic levels.
An online and in-person tutoring agency that aims to give all students access to affordable tutoring, group retake courses and educational support, no matter their level or ability, has secured investment from London-based VC fund, Fuel Ventures.
Ex-teacher Alex Dyer launched Tutor House in 2012, after working in the educational industry for more than 14 years. Since then the business has become the UK’s leading tutoring agency, offering private home or remote tuition for all Primary, GCSE, A-Level and University subjects.
On a mission to change the way students and parents find trusted and qualified tutors, their goal is to make tutoring affordable for all and allow every single student to benefit from expert tutoring and educational support, regardless of their ability.

Tutor House will be using the investment from Fuel Ventures to expand into other countries, and to create a bespoke school in London for students who need intensive tutoring for exam retakes.
Fuel Ventures is a venture capital firm that specialises in providing seed funding to early stage technology companies. It invests in founders who have the ambition to build a global, market-leading company, with the passion and ability to execute. Fuel provides entrepreneurs with expertise and insights in business development, marketing and brand-building through its experience of building, scaling and exiting global companies.
Alex Dyer, Tutor House founder, says: “Our company is run by education specialists and tutors, with years of experience. We’re on a mission to change the way students and parents find trusted and qualified tutors. We want to return autonomy to tutors, tutees, and families, to make tutoring affordable for, and accessible to, the people that need it the most. That’s not a big ask, and we’re well on our way to making that happen.
Mark Pearson, founder of Fuel Ventures, says: “This is an exciting time for Fuel Ventures and its start-ups, and Tutor House is a great business that has already achieved an impressive level of growth since 2012. They are the UK’s market leader and are making plans for further expansion into countries outside of the UK, following this investment.
“We don’t see our investments as just numbers in a spreadsheet. We nurture and support our portfolio companies because we only invest in businesses that we believe in. Tutor House is one of these companies, and we look forward to following their development and progress in the coming months.”

Academic research company In-Part raised £950,000 from Mercia Technologies

A company that helps universities to commercialise academic research by initiating new collaborations with industry has secured a £950,000 investment, which includes £750,000 from NPIF – Mercia Equity Finance, which is managed by Mercia Fund Managers and is part of the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund.  The additional £200,000 is from two private investors.

IN-PART’s online matchmaking platform for university-industry collaboration simplifies the process through which discoveries made in universities are turned into new products, drugs and technologies that have a positive impact on society.

The company, which also received seed capital of around £350k in 2016, employs 28 people with offices in Sheffield and London.  This latest funding round will allow it to expand its teams in both locations.

As part of the deal, Thomas Jørgensen, co-founder of university software platform Pure, which was sold to Elsevier in 2012, will join the board as Chairman.

Using proactive outreach, underpinned by smart matchmaking algorithms, IN-PART sends personalised alerts to research and development (R&D) teams in industry with relevant innovations being developed by academic researchers around the world.

When a company signals interest, IN-PART organises the initial introduction. Feedback is gathered from companies and interaction data from the platform is analysed to provide engagement metrics and early-stage technology trends.

IN-PART’s company network now includes R&D teams in over 5,500 companies, including Roche, Johnson & Johnson, Samsung, IBM, Google X, and multiple users from all of the top 25 global R&D-spending firms in 2018.

Over 220 universities and research institutes from six continents showcase their research on the platform, including Columbia, Cornell, UPenn, Max Planck, Leiden, Vienna, Osaka, Queensland, Australian National University and the University of Hong Kong, as well as leading UK universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, Sheffield, Edinburgh and Manchester.

Patrick Speedie, Co-CEO and co-founder of IN-PART, said: “We’re pleased to receive support from the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund as well as adding some great new non-executive expertise to our board. The funding will allow us to invest further in product development to scale our matchmaking platform and our Discover product, in line with our vision of connecting university research with companies around the world to positively impact on society.”

Nicola Broughton, Head of Universities at Mercia and who will join the In-PART board, said: “Universities have been responsible for some of the biggest breakthroughs in modern times and IN-PART is helping to transfer university technology across the globe. This latest funding will allow it to build its presence in the international marketplace and replicate the significant success it has enjoyed in the UK.”

Sean Hutchinson, Senior Manager at British Business Bank, said: “NPIF continues to provide vital funding to Northern businesses across the region. We are pleased to continue this support, and are proud to work in partnership with Mercia Equity Finance and our other appointed fund managers to make a real impact on business communities by boosting jobs within this Sheffield-based team and strengthening regional economies to unlock the North’s potential.”

James Muir, Chair of the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “This investment is great news for our region; a region already known for its cutting-edge collaborations between universities and business.

“Many of the solutions to our biggest global challenges, such as climate change, healthy ageing and scarcity of resources, will come from the brightest minds in academia. It’s therefore great to see In Part, based here in the Sheffield City Region, providing the technological tools to enable this knowledge to be commercialised.”

The Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund project is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and the European Investment Bank.

Enterprise Ventures Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FRN: 183363).  EV Business Loans Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FRN: 443560).

A Cloud Guru secures £25.37 million Series B investment led by Summit Partners to scale their cloud school

April 29, 2019 – A Cloud Guru (“ACG”) today announced that it has closed a growth equity investment led by Summit Partners, alongsideAirTree Ventures and existing investor Elephant. The company, a clear leader in online cloud computing training and talent development, will use the funding to accelerate hiring across the globe, expand its content library with specialized courses and labs taught by a growing roster of expert instructors and continue to build out features to help enterprises drive cloud adoption.

Founded in 2015 by brothers Sam and Ryan Kroonenburg, ACG is driven by a straightforward mission—to teach the world to cloud. What began as a single cloud certification course has expanded into a rich content library and hands-on labs covering Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure cloud platforms.

ACG has helped more than 850,000 users across 186 countries acquire the skills and certifications needed to pursue meaningful careers in the cloud. The state-of-the-art learning platform helps businesses and individuals rapidly develop cloud skills, prepare for certification exams, and progress through learning paths to become gurus in specialized disciplines.

“We are humbled by this level of support from our investment partners,” said Sam Kroonenburg, co-founder and CEO of A Cloud Guru. “We are eager to continue building our engineering, content, and go-to-market teams to support our customers and partners. We are now even better positioned to help more businesses and individuals learn to cloud.”

“Enterprise workloads continue to move to the cloud at an enormous pace, requiring a new set of IT skills to design, manage and secure applications,” said Tom Jennings, Managing Director at Summit Partners who has joined the company’s board of directors. “ACG’s platform uniquely enables organizations to develop their existing employees’ cloud skills and provide ongoing training to ensure continued aptitude in cloud architecture. And the results are impressive.”

In May 2018, A Cloud Guru launched ACG for Business, a learning management and talent development platform designed to provide businesses with a scalable, predictable path for building a highly-skilled cloud workforce. ACG’s Accelerator Program and Learning Paths enable enterprises to quickly onboard their teams to the cloud and provide professionals with a step-by-step path from beginner to expert across specific IT domains. ACG for Business helps enterprises meet and exceed their cloud ROI goals and is the cloud training platform of choice for companies including Dow Jones, Capital One DevExchange, and Qualcomm.

“It’s amazing to think how far we’ve come since those early days in 2015,” said co-founder Ryan Kroonenburg. “To all of the awesome Cloud Gurus who have supported us along the way, we want to say thank you. You are the reason we are where we are today. With this round of investment, we have additional resources to do even more in support of the A Cloud Guru community. Keep being awesome, Cloud Gurus.”

About A Cloud Guru 
A Cloud Guru is the premier learning and talent development platform for cloud computing, delivering world-class courses by engineers, for engineers. Our state-of-the-art platform provides both businesses and individuals with the ability to stay current, stay relevant, and deliver results with cloud computing. To date, more than 850,000 students across 186 countries have taken our courses, labs, and quizzes. To learn how A Cloud Guru can accelerate your team’s adoption of cloud computing, please visitacloud.guru.

About Summit Partners 
Founded in 1984, Summit Partners is a global alternative investment firm that is currently managing more than $19 billion in capital dedicated to growth equity, fixed income and public equity opportunities. Summit invests across growth sectors of the economy and has invested in more than 480 companies in technology, healthcare and other growth industries. These companies have completed more than 140 public equity offerings, and more than 190 have been acquired through strategic mergers and sales. Summit maintains offices in North America and Europe, and invests in companies around the world. For more information, please see www.summitpartners.com or on Twitter at @SummitPartners.

In the United States of America, Summit Partners operates as an SEC-registered investment advisor. In the United Kingdom, this document is issued by Summit Partners LLP, a firm authorized and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Summit Partners LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC388179 and its registered office is at 11–12 St. James’s Square, London, SW1Y 4LB, UK. This document is intended solely to provide information regarding Summit Partners’ potential financing capabilities for prospective portfolio companies.

About Elephant 
Elephant is a venture capital firm focused on the enterprise software, consumer internet and mobile markets. The firm was founded in 2015 by Jeremiah Daly and Andy Hunt and has offices in Boston and New York. Elephant is currently investing out of its second fund.

About AirTree Ventures 
AirTree is a Sydney-based venture capital firm that partners with world-class Australian entrepreneurs to build the businesses of the future. AirTree provides early and growth stage financing, advice, connections and operational know how to technology companies around the globe. AirTree is the only Australian venture firm with a globally top decile track record. 

Media Contact: 
Julie Sondecker
(512) 553-6875 ext. 216

SOURCE A Cloud Guru

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Training and Learning Platform Administrate scales up with £3.78m investment from NVM Private Equity

NVM Private Equity (NVM) has invested £2.25 million of growth capital into Edinburgh-based software business Administrate as part of a £3.78 million investment round alongside existing investors Archangels and the Scottish Investment Bank. Administrate is a Software-as-a-Service Training and Learning Management Platform, designed to help manage and automate the entire process of delivering education. The investment will be used to accelerate the business globally and continue the development of its platform.

Administrate delivers its solutions to a fast growing global client base from Scotland, supported by offices in the United States and Lebanon.Clients use Administrate to solve the challenges of defining, delivering, tracking, analysing, and scaling learning within an organisation. After implementing Administrate, customers realise huge time savings, and can drive strategic initiatives and successfully scale their offerings. In the past year, North American expansion has been a key driver for the company which now employs more than 80 people across its three offices.

The Administrate training management platform includes functionality supporting ecommerce, student registration, scheduling, personnel management, resource management, reporting, and classroom management features, all delivered from the cloud. Underpinned by a powerful API, Administrate is augmented by a host of integrations with other SaaS technology providers such as CloudShare, SurveyMonkey and Zoom.

John Peebles, CEO of Administrate, said, “Our investors are a key part of our team, and I’m delighted to have NVM join us on the journey as we work together to build a company focussed on delivering success for our customers.

As part of the investment, NVM’s Aaron-Lawson Clark has been appointed to the Administrate board.

Aaron Lawson-Clark, Investment Associate of NVM Private Equity said: “Administrate stands out as an ambitious business that has developed proven, market-leading technology with a strong reputation in its industry. The business is well placed to continue the growth trajectory delivered over the last few years as it continues to make inroads into enterprise level customers across the world. NVM are very pleased to be backing another fantastic business in Scotland.”

Since 2015 NVM has invested £68 million in 24 innovative companies with exciting growth potential and over the last 12 months ten new investments have been completed with one more to be announced later this week.



For further information please contact:

Download photos of: Administrate – www.nvm.co.uk/PRphotos

NVM was provided with:

  • Legal advice by Watson Burton (Duncan Reid and Eleanor James)
  • Commercial due diligence by Plural Strategy (Phil Stone)
  • Management due diligence by Confidas People (Bruce Douglas)
  • Financial due diligence by Tait Walker (Chris McCourt and Graham Dotchin)
  • VCT compliance by Philip Hare & Associates

NVM Private Equity is independently owned with over 30 years’ experience of investing in unquoted UK businesses. NVM is a generalist investor, managing more than £400 million of funds, and is differentiated by having executives living and working in regional business communities throughout the UK. NVM seeks investment opportunities of between £2 million and £15 million in UK businesses which have the right mix of growth potential and market vision. They may be looking to grow organically, acquire another business or secure a management buy-out. www.nvm.co.uk

Firefly school learning platform raises further £5 million from Downing Ventures

Firefly, a suite of school learning tools used in 40 countries and first developed by co-founders Simon Hay and Joe Mathewson while preparing for their GCSEs, has secured £5 million funding from Downing Ventures, alongside BGF and Beringea.

Firefly has the potential to cut school administration by 50 per cent and connect teachers, students and parents to share lesson plans and assign and review homework directly, both in and out of the classroom. In partnership with other best of breed tools, such as content providers, Firefly aims to create one, simple to manage, school ecosystem.

Today Firefly supports more than a million students, teachers and parents in 40 countries and holds a market-leading position in UK Independent senior schools, where it is used by more than 50 per cent of students. But the idea for the technology was first created by Joe and Simon back in 1999 when they themselves were still at school. The technology was quickly adopted by several schools, with Joe and Simon establishing the venture as a full-time business in 2009.

Firefly is now planning to extend its global expansion while further developing its strong presence in UK Independent and State schools. Education technology is fast-growing, so Firefly plans to invest £3m in research and development to further diversify its suite of products. This will include the launch of new tools to help teachers and leadership teams save time and improve student outcomes, such as giving teachers, management and parents a real-time view on student progress. Additionally, the business will look to strengthen its team and plans to create 20 new jobs over the next year, while also building even more partnerships and integrations with other EdTech products.

The £5 million funding round, led by Downing Ventures and supported by other established funds, is Firefly’s second successful investment round and brings the total raised for the business to almost £10 million. This latest funding marks a new milestone for the business that will support Firefly at a crucial stage of its growth and in its intention to cement its future position as a leading light in UK EdTech.

Simon Hay, Firefly Learning, commented: “At Firefly, our ambition is to supercharge the school experience, so every student can reach their potential. This investment will enable us to move more quickly towards empowering teachers, students and parents, adding to the hundreds of thousands using the tool every day.

“Downing’s experience in the EdTech sector caught our interest, as well as its work with other fast-growing companies that make a difference, and we’re looking forward to working with James and the Downing team on our own expansion plans.  BGF and Beringea have been fantastic partners over the past couple of years, and we’re delighted that they’re also doubling down to further support this next stage of growth.”

James Lewis, Investment Director at Downing Ventures also commented on Firefly’s unique position in the market: “The EdTech sector is an exciting but challenging place. On the one hand, it can be highly competitive, with the UK spending an estimated £1 billion on EdTech. However, at the same time, it’s also a very fragmented market. Firefly’s relentless focus on developing products that can make a tangible difference for teachers, students and parents has secured them a market-leading position among UK Independent schools.”

Simon Calver, Head of Venture Investments at BGF who sits on the board of Firefly, said:“Firefly has built an effective, easy-to-use tool that connects teachers, parents and students and ultimately enhances the education experience for young people. The team continues to drive growth on an international scale since BGF’s original investment and we’re looking forward to being part of this exciting next stage of their global journey.”

Stuart Veale, Managing Partner of Beringea and board member for Firefly, commented:“Firefly has demonstrated its ability to build a platform that transforms the educational experience of thousands of students around the world. Beringea has supported this latest round of funding to enable the business to build on this success and accelerate its growth as a global leader in education technology.”


For all press enquiries, please contact:

Pamela Morris, the lang cat

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Jean Birrell, Downing LLP




In 2016, Firefly secured the largest Series A funding for an EdTech company in the UK, from BGF and Beringea.

Downing Ventures is an evergreen fund investing in seed to Series A companies, with the possibility of follow-on investments. It invests in a variety of technology sectors including consumer internet and mobile, enterprise software, defence and security technology, financial technology and health technology. It works alongside a number of investment partners and accelerator programmes and incubators, including the London Co-Investment Fund.

Downing Ventures is a division of Downing LLP, an FCA authorised (Firm Reference No. 545025) and regulated investment manager based in London, which has over 30 years of experience and has raised funds from 35,000 investors.


BGF was set up in 2011 and has invested more than £1.8bn in over 260 companies, making it the most active investor in the UK and globally by number of transactions. On average, BGF invested in one company per week in 2018.

BGF has £2.5bn to invest in UK SMEs and in Ireland, and an additional €250m to support Irish businesses. Earlier this year, Canada launched its equivalent – the Canadian Business Growth Fund – based on BGF’s funding model, and Australia is now actively exploring the approach as well.

BGF is a minority, non-controlling equity partner with a patient outlook on investments, based on shared long-term goals with the management teams it backs.


Beringea is a highly active growth capital investor with $715m under management and offices in the UK and US. It supports high-growth businesses with annual revenues of more than £1 million, investing between £1 million and £20 million to help companies scale. 

With a successful track-record of investments spanning 30 years, Beringea has more than 60 portfolio companies across its US and UK offices. The company has a history of strong partnerships with management teams, often reinvesting in its successful entrepreneurs.

Its core areas for investment include digital media, business software and services, and consumer industries. With an extensive range of expertise across the team, and an ability for spotting and following opportunities, Beringea’s portfolio includes companies in a range of sectors, and its team continues to be at the forefront of emerging trends.


IN-Part secures £300,000 Seed investment from Mercia

Mercia Fund Management (MFM), a leading technology investor with a focus on the Midlands, the North and Scotland, has made its first investment into IN-PART, which streamlines the discovery and commercialisation of innovative academic research.

The investment, which totals £300,000 and will allow IN-PART to build on its team to accelerate international expansion, implement new marketing initiatives, and continue product development, which will see new features added to the service.

IN-PART has offices situated in Sheffield, based at the Kroto Innovation Centre, as well as in Central London, providing a convenient solution for university technology transfer offices (TTOs) and businesses – from SMEs to blue chips – to find and collaborate with each other.

In November, the company beat more than 100 digital companies to be crowned as one of Tech North’s Northern Stars, a competition aimed at identifying the top ten digital start-ups in the North of England.  The winning package will see the founders travel to the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas, to showcase the IN-PART system.

Unlike other similar platforms, IN-PART is specifically for university research, which has traditionally struggled to communicate with businesses, due to the lack of simple communication channels between relevant, engaged parties. Previously, university business teams have relied on ‘cold-contact’methods, without any prior information on who the most suitable person is to speak to within the target company.

IN-PART’s system provides a clear, concise and relevant catalogue of high-quality contacts, all of whom must work both in industry and R&D in order to gain access to the platform. It allows companies to perform tailored searches for research that could be a potential asset to their business, whilst also helping universities and TTOs to display their current academic developments.  The service also provides detailed metrics in ‘Impact Reports’, along with tailored support for universities subscribing to the system.

Since its launch in January 2014, IN-PART has gone from six universities and 25 companies to 50 universities and over 400 companies using the platform. IN-PART is now looking to expand its services to the USA, Asia and Australia, and has already identified key early adopters in each jurisdiction ahead of further internationalisation in 2016.

Patrick Speedie, Co-Founder of IN-PART, said:

“We’re extremely excited about moving into the next stage of IN-PART’s development as we look to add additional features for both university and company users, as well as expanding into new international markets, and Mercia Fund Management represents an ideal investment partner to help evolve our system.  We’ve been very impressed by MFM’s knowledge of technology transfer and the difficulties surrounding university/industry collaboration, and we feel confident that they share our vision for connecting the sectors in a new and intuitive way.  Together, we feel we can have an even greater impact on bringing university research to the wider world.”

Dr Robin KnightCo-founder, IN-PART, also commented:

“This investment marks the next chapter in our business’s history, and heralds not only our expansion, but also the development of new and current core services for our university and company clients. We’re looking to maintain our traction, and are excited to excel expectations as we take our company overseas with our new partners at MFM.”

Investment Manager Brijesh Roy, who works with MFM’s Head of Technology Transfer, said:

 “I am pleased to provide IN-PART with its first early-stage investment from MFM.  I have first-hand experience of the struggles faced by university technology transfer offices trying to make industry connections.  IN-PART’s curated platform transforms this inefficient and resource intensive process, making it quick and simple for universities to connect to relevant companies.  In less than two years, IN-PART has become a dominant portal to find technology from UK universities and the investment will accelerate the ongoing international expansion into the US, Europe and Asia.
“This investment also complements Mercia’s commitment to support the wealth of scalable technology that universities can provide, particularly in our focus regions of the Midlands, the North and Scotland.”