Vancouver startup Wize raises US$3m amid surging demand for online learning

Wize offers customized online tutorials to students based on the school they attend

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A Vancouver startup capitalizing on demand for online learning amid the pandemic is looking to expand significantly in the U.S. in the coming year after netting US$3 million in new investments.

Wizedemy Inc. (Wize) CEO Cyrus Moradian said his company was offering online tutorials for hundreds of courses at about 20 schools last year.

“And now … we actually expanded to thousands of schools across North America and have thousands of courses that we've created,” he told BIV after the close of funding was announced Thursday (January 28).

Wize’s website features a list of schools and courses that users can search through to see if there is a compatible online video tutorial featuring instructions, practice problems and mock exams from educators who typically hold either a PhD or master’s degree.

The educators customize their pre-recorded videos based on the user’s school.

For example, a student at the University of British Columbia looking for additional tutoring can select from 39 courses such as Chemistry 120 or Physics 157.

Wize users typically pay about $39 for a package of video tutoring sessions.

“We create our materials in a very, very smart way that allows for us to repurpose and recollect tutorials in many different courses,” Moradian said.

“We actually scale one respected educator, for example, to hundreds or thousands of respective courses. So first-year calculus is relatively the same at all of the different schools, but obviously there's nuances and differences. That's really our value … the way that we can actually create these materials to actually customize.”

The company launched in 2017 and has so far been able to offer courses to 70,000 students across the continent.

Moradian said the pandemic has accelerated interest in online learning as more students accept the new norm of learning remotely.

That surge in interest and the US$3 million in new investment capital will be fuelling Wize’s U.S. expansion plans, he added.

The company has a full-time staff of 11 people and Moradian expects to hire more in the coming year as it builds out a new platform to deliver the video tutorials.

“This capital actually allows for us to build out a curriculum now for Grade 8 all the way through Grade 12 students in high school, as well as help people get into graduate school with the LSAT and MCAT test prep,” he said, referring to the tests for law school and medical school.

“So we hope next year to have a very strong presence all across North America.”

Funding was led by Montreal-based Panache Ventures Inc. and L.A.-based Luma Launch, with participation from angel investors.