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Australian unicorn-hopeful SafetyCulture invests another $4.25 million in 'microlearning' app used by Pandora and Mercedes-Benz

Aleks Vickovich
  • Corporate training platform EdApp has secured $4.25 million in a funding round led by its existing backer SafetyCulture, a workplace tech provider valued at at least $440 million.
  • EdApp is a pioneer in smartphone-based education and training, tipping the mobile-first "microlearning" market to be worth US$70 billion by 2024. It counts Pandora, Mercedes-Benz, the Commonwealth Bank, Mars and Shell among its customers.
  • SafetyCulture CEO Luke Anear will take a seat on EdApp's board of directors and told Business Insider Australia that EdApp will help take microlearning global.

Australian-born workplace technology provider SafetyCulture has been described as the "next Atlassian" — including backing by Atlassian co-founder and SafetyCulture investor Scott Farquhar himself.

Now, a little-known 'microlearning' platform called EdApp is hoping to be the next recipient of that prestigious prediction.

Ed App has secured a $4.25 million investment from SafetyCulture, which previously invested $4 million in the learning platform's initial capital raise in 2018.

SafetyCulture CEO Luke Anear — who will now join EdApp's board of directors post-investment — told Business Insider Australia that the app-based education and training market has a lot of potential.

"Myself and the team at SafetyCulture will continue to support [EdApp founder Darren Winterford] and the team with their vision to deliver micro-learning globally," he said.

EdApp estimates this niche market to be worth US$70 billion by 2024 as companies look to make mobile functionality the centrepiece of their corporate education and training offerings.

"Many providers of corporate training both here in Australia and abroad have attempted to simply offer their courseware on mobile," Winterford told Business Insider Australia.

"However, this is not addressing the core of the problem and as a result hasn't really moved the needle."

Some of the corporate using this new mode of training include major global brands like Danish jeweller Pandora, who uses EdApp's technology to train retail employees across the Asia-Pacific, and Mercedes-Benz, as well as oil company Shell, iconic booze manufacturer Pernod Ricard and chocolatier Mars, one of the biggest companies in the US.

As much as 80% of EdApp's customer base is international, but it does have a deal in place with the Commonwealth Bank for small business cybersecurity training, Winterford said.

Part of the attraction, he reckons, is the focus on "gamification" which is made possible by a mobile-first build and really drives engagement with learners.

The next Atlassian? (Or SafetyCulture, at least)

Winterford makes no attempt at hiding EdApp's ambition, saying he hopes his company is a beneficiary of the kind of warm knowledge-sharing he says Silicon Valley is known for.

"Arguably, SafetyCulture is one of Australia's most successful tech companies — well on their way to becoming our next unicorn," he said.

"If Luke and his team can help EdApp become a similar size in a shorter amount of time that would be a great result."

For his part, Anear doesn't seem to think EdApp's growth hopes are too far-fetched, saying SafetyCulture will continue to invest in other startups in order to "build something greater than we would on our own".

While both companies declined to reveal the equity stake SafetyCulture gets from the $4.25 million investment — and thereby reveal EdApp's latest valuation — Winterford did hint at some commercial partnerships still to come between the two.

"The possibility of some integration is obviously going to be explored as we do share a similar customer base," he said.

SafetyCulture completed a capital raise in May 2018 that saw it valued at $440 million off the back of investment from Farquhar, New York-based Tiger Global Management and Aussie venture firm Blackbird.

In an interview with the now-defunct Business Review Weekly in 2014, Farquhar said he anticipates SafetyCulture to be "another Australian success story".

EdApp is proving to be quite the student.