Dear Friends and Colleagues,
We hope your year is off to a good start. As we look ahead to 2017, we wanted to first take a moment to reflect on the past 12 months. It was a busy year for our team as we launched three investment platforms, completed two add-on acquisitions, and forged meaningful partnerships with the executives and entrepreneurs that are running these companies.
Back in February we completed our initial portfolio investment in The National Research Center for College & University Admissions (“NRCCUA”), a leading provider of enrollment solutions to students and post-secondary institutions, and in April we announced the appointment of Patrick Vogt to CEO to lead the growth strategy at the company. In September NRCCUA acquired Eduventures, a higher education research and advisory firm, and earlier this month NRCCUA and Chegg announced a partnership whereby NRCCUA would manage sales, delivery, and customer relationships for Chegg’s enrollment services accounts.
In August we completed the second investment in our portfolio. Panopto is an online video platform providing video capture and content management software for higher education and enterprise clients. Panopto is led by one of its co-founders and video technology visionary, Eric Burns. In December Panopto was once again recognized by Gartner as a very strong leader in the enterprise video content management space.
In September we completed our third portfolio investment in a company called Amerigo. Amerigo provides a comprehensive suite of services to high schools located in the United States that will help them attract, educate, and prepare international students for college. Amerigo is led by CEO and successful education industry veteran, Craig Pines.
As we look ahead to 2017, the one thing we feel certain about is that the year will be filled with surprises. We fully expect that our new president and the Republican majority Congress will reverse many of the hallmark decisions of the Obama presidency and will implement policies that will rewrite our tax code, reform our healthcare system, relax our regulatory environment, and affect the economy and social fabric of our country in some known and some unforeseen ways. In our sector, we are actively monitoring and participating in conversations regarding our K12 and Higher Education & Workforce issues. Much coordination is needed between the public and private markets, between those that educate and those that employ. On the heels of change, we remain cautiously optimistic that there will be a renaissance for positive private sector involvement and we hope to partner with many of you on these endeavors.
We are seeking investment opportunities in differentiated businesses that have established proof of concept and are in need of growth capital. We are also seeking partnerships with entrepreneurs and executives interested in advisory or full-time roles. As our name implies, we remain opportunistic in our pursuits; yet we have an ongoing commitment to research-driven investing. We highlight a few topics of interest and importance below.
- Early Childhood Education (“ECE”) – the for-profit ECE market remains highly fragmented with the ten largest providers servicing approximately 7.2% of the market.* At all socioeconomic levels, the demand for ECE is on the rise driven by its proven efficacy around kindergarten and future readiness as well as the growing number of dual income families in the United States.
- Advancing Skills Gaps – the economic and social disparity between college grads and everyone else is at a record high; yet traditional higher education is not for everyone. Supply/demand gaps remain across many middle skills areas and we are seeing employers and educators come together to organize programs and services that are making a real difference to bridge these gaps.
- Creating the New Economy Expertise – with the ubiquity of software and the proliferation of data, new educational offerings are in growing demand. Whether through the traditional university system, through third party consumer offerings, or through corporate training programs, we are again seeing a confluence of stakeholders coming together to rewrite regulatory, financial, and social models.
As always, we would love to hear from you and value your support.
Best wishes for a year of peace, happiness, and prosperity.
The Education Opportunity Fund Team
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