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Firefly Learning closes £5m funding round led by Downing Ventures

publication date: Jan 31, 2019

Firefly Learning, the London-based learning platform that enables teachers to set homework, track progress, share resources and engage parents, has closed a £5m funding round led by Downing Ventures, with participation from existing investors BGF Ventures and Beringea. The company has now raised around £9.5m from investors since launch in 2009.

Co-founded by Simon Hay and Joe Mathewson, Firefly is a suite of school learning tools which the company says supports more than a million students, teachers and parents in 40 countries. The company has a market-leading position in UK independent senior schools, where it is used by more than 50 per cent of students, Firefly said.

Firefly plans to invest £3m of the new funding to further diversify its suite of products, including 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. The company is also planning to extend its global footprint – the company already has an office in Australia - while further developing its presence in UK independent and state schools. To support these growth plans, Firefly aims to hire 20 new members of staff in 2019 and increase the number of partnerships with other digital product providers.

Commenting on its investment in Firefly, James Lewis, Investment Director at Downing Ventures, said: “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.”

In its most recently filed abbreviated accounts for the year ended 30 April 2018, Firefly Learning reported a 67% fall in net assets to £1.3m (2017: £3.8m). The company had deferred income of £2.2m at the year end (2017: £2.1m).

During FY18, the company entered into a loan agreement with Silicon Valley Bank, comprising two facilities – a 4 year loan of £1.5m and a revolving credit facility of £1.5m. £434k of the term loan was used to pay off outstanding loans with Lloyds Bank, and at 30 April 2018 Firefly had bank loans outstanding of £1.5m. Firefly did not draw down any funds from the revolving credit facility in FY18. The company had cash balances of £2.2m at the year end (2017: £4.5m).

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