Even before COVID shut down schools and put semester schedules in limbo, a group of Atlanta entrepreneurs knew the in-person education system was broken.
And their solution isn’t a typical Zoom classroom.
Sora Schools, an online high school focused on live, personalized, project-based curriculum, has been focused on building educational opportunities for students and parents searching for something outside the traditional learning mold.
The team has just secured a $2.7 million seed round led by Union Square Ventures, with additional investments from Village Global, ReThink Education, Firebolt Ventures, Peak State Ventures (Sarah K. Lee), Contrary Capital and angel investor Taylor Greene.
“Education is a fundamentally human process,” co-founder Garrett Smiley told Hypepotamus. The team behind Sora believes that online education doesn’t have to be isolating or uninteresting. In fact, Smiley believes it is the traditional in-person classroom model which isolates students.
Sora students have over two hours of collaborative work and discussion time, making it easier for students to truly engage with classmates and new ideas, which ultimately improves student agency.
With schools shut during the pandemic, “parents are seeing the education process play out in their own houses,” said Smiley. But Sora, which was born online, caters to what Smiley says is “families who know there is something fundamentally wrong with education.”
Along with co-founders Indra Sofian and Wesley Samples, the Sora team all worked in the VC or startup world prior to pivoting into virtual education. They plan to use the new seed round to expand their faculty, staff, and creating new platforms to re-frame education.
“Sora is a much needed new approach to an education system that has been largely stagnant for decades,” said Rebecca Kaden, managing partner, Union Square Ventures. “It offers a personalized system with a scalable network, creating an opportunity to become the largest high school in the world while also allowing each student to pursue his or her own passions and individual learning journey. Education shouldn’t be one-size-fits-all and Sora is creating something adaptable and effective at a time when parents and students are realizing that alternative forms of learning are needed and possible.”