Nearpeer, Plan9’s startup incubated under Ilm Ideas 2, has raised a product acceleration investment at 6 figure (USD) valuation from Shopistan.pk.
Nearpeer is a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) platform that offers institution-specific online video courses. It aims to revolutionize education system in Pakistan through AI. The idea came from the fact that students learn more in a few hours from seniors, who had already taken the courses, than from the limited time of lectures.
The brains behind Nearpeer and also the co-founders are the two alumni of LUMS, Ammar Ali Ayub and Shahrukh Swati. Ammar said about raising the investment,
“Half a million students graduate from university annually in Pakistan but not enough jobs are created to absorb all of them. My team always had a motto; instead of becoming a burden on an overburdened economy of Pakistan, we are going to create opportunities within our economy by introducing more jobs. Before even graduating from LUMS, we had created new opportunities for almost 22 people. Now this partnership with Shopistan will help us further this motto as we’ll be expanding into more universities and markets at an accelerated rate.”
There are plenty of courses available online but they are all scattered, hence searching for them is really time-consuming. While addressing the problem, Shahrukh said,
“As a student at College and university level, I always felt the gaps in the education system. Monotonous classes, little complementary resources outside the classroom, and irrelevant and scattered online resources used to make the process difficult. Expensive MCAT/ECAT academies used to be a huge burden on my parents. In the era where things like booking a cab, and ordering the food have been made simpler, why can’t education process made easier too? I tried, and Thanks to Allah Almighty, I succeeded. With this technology partnership we’re going to introduce Artificial Intelligence (AI) into the education system and generate great content for markets of MCAT, ECAT, O/A’Levels, FSc, and similar markets in coming two years.”
The investment raised from Shopistan is not only about cash, rather it is a partnership where CEO Shopistan Ali Aziz has promised to mentor them and provide them the entire technical and operational support. Ali Aziz said,
“We are making an investor syndicate and this is our first investment in a startup. We are aiming to promote education and health in Pakistan’s ecosystem. Our main purpose is to help startups with their technology in order to enable them to focus on their business side and make the next round of raising investment easier for them.”
Through the investment raised, Nearpeer plans to expand in the markets of O-levels, A-levels, MCAT and ECAT with in-house production of content. They have now decided to provide free courses to the university market. Nearpeer aims to reach out to the students of cities like Multan, Bahawalpur, Sargodha etc. and provide them with a quality education. Dr. Umar Saif supporting the investor community said,
“It is heartening to see investors putting faith in young entrepreneurs. One after another news of investment in a startup is the validation of the fact that this startup culture is growing and will reach heights of success in near future.”
Back in 2015 when Nearpeer initiated, they only had 1200 paying customers and 3000 users overall. Today, they have about 2500 paying customers and almost 6200 online users. They are currently offering 55 courses and there are more to come. They currently exist at LUMS, LSE and Chartered Accountants Market. Their future goals include expanding into GIKI, PIEAS, NUST, ITU and FAST.
Nearpeer has also been selected for ATX+PAK Exchange Program where they hope to expand into the University of Texas and Texas State University.
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