Leaders Fund helps Top Hat increase Series C to $40 mln

Toronto education technology company Top Hat has increased its previously announced Series C financing to about $40 million (US$30 million). The top up was the result of a US$7.5 million investment by Canadian venture capital firm Leaders Fund, which launched an enterprise-software fund last year. Founded in 2009, Top Hat is the developer of a cloud-based student engagement and interactive teaching platform. Along with the investment, it announced the release of Top Hat Marketplace, a resource of affordable and customizable educational content. Union Square Ventures led Top Hat’s Series C round.


Top Hat Launches Affordable Online Marketplace for Higher Education, Challenging Overpriced Textbook Publishers

Marketplace transforms how professors author, adopt and collaborate on textbooks and other course content, putting them in the driver’s seat

Top Hat announces $7.5M USD Series C follow-on funding by Leaders Fund, Bringing Series C Total to $30M USD

June 14, 2017

TORONTO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Top Hat, provider of the leading in-class student engagement app for higher education, today announced the full release of the Top Hat Marketplace, a unique and game-changing resource of affordable and customizable educational content. Professors can publish, share, and collaborate with peers in the Top Hat Marketplace on course materials. This educational content resource is now available to thousands of educators at over 750 of the top 1,000 North American colleges and universities. The Marketplace also helps schools lower the cost of education by providing students affordable and engaging educational content.

“We leveraged our existing relationship with educators already using our classroom engagement tools to test and launch the Marketplace,” said Mike Silagadze, co-Founder and CEO of Top Hat. “The Marketplace finally puts educators — the people at the forefront of learning — in charge of their course materials. This is a fundamental shift in education, and we’re excited to provide Top Hat educators with a community focused on quality content and better teaching while also creating an effective learning experience for students.”

Course Materials Reinvented Through Community

The Top Hat Marketplace answers the urgent need of professors and instructors to easily find and create educational content that is interactive, easily customizable and much more affordable for students than conventional textbooks. The educational content in the Top Hat Marketplace breaks the slow-paced publishing model by allowing educators to provide one another instant feedback. This collaborative community-sourced model means that the Marketplace’s content is continually being updated and improved upon. The Marketplace enables educators to:

Share content they have authored and earn royalties when it’s adopted by fellow academics for use in their courses;
Collaborate with like-minded colleagues to create interactive textbooks and supplementary course material;
Find affordable and customizable course content to meet the needs of their class;
Become a peer reviewer.
Examples of inventive course materials that professors in the beta group have already developed for the platform include:

Professor Sara Eskridge at Randolph-Macon College was the lead author on an interactive U.S. History textbook that brings courses to life with animated timelines, video and audio clips, and quizzes that students can answer as they proceed through the material. “The interactive textbook is great for getting students to participate in class,” Eskridge says. “They ask more questions, and they’re intrigued and delighted by interactive features.”

Professor Amy Lobben at University of Oregon co-authored an interactive textbook for her Geography class. It includes a game that simulates an earthquake as reported by social media and her students are asked to filter through data, tweets and even Instagram posts to identify hotspots where help is most needed. “One of the great things about working with Top Hat is that we update [the course material] all the time…you cannot do that with something that has been printed,” Lobben says. “The ability to have real time data, interactivity, and assessment with students has allowed us to rethink our curriculum, and we want a whole program that is built on interactive textbooks.”

Professor Greg Domski at Augustana College contributed to an Organic Chemistry textbook. “Top Hat allowed me to encourage students to engage with their textbook in a way that isn’t possible with print texts,” Domski says. “It also allowed me to monitor their progress and reach out to struggling students in a timely fashion. The fact that students read their text and completed questions prior to classroom meetings made for much more productive in class assignments and improved performance on exams.”

Leaders Fund Joins Existing Top Hat Investors, including Union Square Ventures

Top Hat also announced a $7.5 million USD follow-on investment to their recent $22.5M USD Series C funding by Toronto–based Leaders Fund, a venture capital fund focused on investing in disruptive B2B SaaS companies.

“Investing in Top Hat was an easy decision,” said David Stein, Managing Partner at Leaders Fund. “The education technology market is notoriously difficult, but Top Hat’s educator-first approach and mission to improve classroom engagement by putting the teacher at the center really stood out to our team. We’re particularly excited about the potential for the Top Hat Marketplace — a unique approach to making higher education more economical, engaging and effective. The company has experienced impressive growth and we’re excited by what the future holds.”

About Top Hat

Top Hat’s interactive, cloud-based teaching platform enables professors to engage students inside and outside the classroom with compelling content, tools and activities. Millions of students at 750 leading North American colleges and universities use the Top Hat teaching platform. To learn more, visit www.tophat.com.

Top Hat
Alyssa Allen

Photo courtesy of Top Hat