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Edtech investing has historically been a niche category for venture capital, but even with its post-pandemic boom leveling off, several top investors are still making waves with savvy investments in the sector. 
Venture-capital funding to edtech startups saw a large boost during the pandemic. In 2019, total funding to startups in the space was $5.4 billion. That increased nearly threefold in 2020 to $14 billion, and then reached a record total in 2021 with $17.2 billion, according to PitchBook data. 
But the global venture slowdown has affected edtech investing. In 2022, global edtech funding barely cracked $9 billion. The first half of 2023 has seen this drop off even more, with just $2.6 billion in global edtech funding through the first two quarters compared to $6.4 billion during the same period last year, PitchBook data shows. 
Still, deals are still getting done, and behind these chosen companies are the savvy venture capitalists that fund these startups and help them scale to new heights. 
Insider compiled a list of 17 venture capitalists that specialize in investing in edtech startups based on recommendations from other venture capitalists and a review of their investments in the sector. 
Here are the top edtech investors to put on your radar:
Location: San Francisco 
Notable investments: A.Team, Forage, Hone, Multiverse
Why she’s on the list: At SemperVirens, Gates has made a name for herself as one of the leading investors in startups that are changing the workforce as we know it, including upskilling and training. 
While she also backs insurance-tech and digital-health startups, her investments in companies changing the future of work and learning at work stand out, including the employee-mentoring startup Forage and the leadership-training company Hone. Gates made the savvy call to invest in Euan Blair’s apprenticeship startup Multiverse during its seed round in 2018. In 2022, the company became a unicorn with a valuation of $1.7 billion. 
Gates looks for edtech and future-of-work founders that have a strong “sales acumen” in addition to domain expertise, she told Insider.
Location: San Francisco
Notable investments: TRANSFR, Learn In, Tilt, Stride Funding
Why she’s on the list: Bittner began her career in education as a 7th- and 8th-grade social-studies teacher in the Bronx through Teach for America. The experience turned out to be her first step in a long career with the goal of improving the education system for all students. 
After working with schools and school districts for years as a consultant, including a stint serving in the US Department of Education during the Obama administration, she became a full-time edtech investor. She invested at Owl Ventures for four years before spinning out Firework Ventures with her cofounder and fellow managing partner Brigette Lau in 2019. 
At Firework, she invested in and currently sits on the board of the VR-training startup Transfr, and backed the edtech unicorn Degreed in its $153 million Series D round. 
Location: Atlanta
Notable investments: AllHere, Craft Education, Mentor Spaces, PeerTeach 
Why she’s on the list: Brown came to Rethink Education in 2019 after four years at the impact-investing firm Village Capital, where she helped build the firm’s diligence and support strategies with a focus on education companies. 
After joining Rethink Education, she quickly rose through the ranks, reaching the rank of partner in just over two years. 
Brown has led the firm’s investments in the school-district messaging platform AllHere and the teacher staffing and apprenticeship startup Craft Education. More recently, she backed the peer-to-peer tutoring platform PeerTeach this spring. 
For Brown, the most important quality in an edtech-startup pitch is that the team can clearly show how it “solves a large problem that increases the economic mobility potential for learners, such as credentials, promotions, or jobs, while also solving a major pain point for the buyer,” she told Insider.
Location: San Francisco
Notable investments: ClassDojo, Derivita, Desmos, Handshake, Lovevery, Outschool, Nearpod, Stellic, TeachFX
Why she’s on the list: Carolan cofounded Reach Capital in 2015 with Shauntel Garvey, Wayee Chu, and Esteban Sosnik to invest exclusively in education startups. Before that, she was a public-school teacher for nearly seven years before she became a venture capitalist. 
Over the course of her career, Carolan has invested in several education startups that help teachers connect with parents, including the classroom apps ClassDojo and Nearpod. She also made savvy bets on recent unicorns when they were just starting out, such as the coding interface-and-training platform Replit, which became a unicorn in April with a $1.16 billion valuation
When asked for her best advice for investors looking to break into edtech, Carolan shared three key points: “Listen to teachers. Read the research. Learn from history.”
Location: San Francisco
Notable investments: Degreed, Deephow, Interplay Learning, LingoAce, Masterclass, Thrive Global, Workera
Why he’s on the list: Chiu has understood the role education plays in social mobility since he was young. He is a child of immigrants, and his father came to the US to pursue a graduate degree. Chiu even wrote a book on financial aid and scholarships with his brothers. 
Now as a managing director at the edtech-focused VC fund Owl Ventures, Chiu has made deals in consumer-education startups such as the unicorn MasterClass and workforce-training edtech companies including the manufacturing-upskilling platform Deephow and the employee-training startup Workera
Chiu told Insider that he looks to invest in startups that use technology to “deliver improved access and outcomes in a demonstrable way to learners and institutions.” 
Location: San Francisco
Notable investments: Campus, Clayful, Swing Education, Handshake, Replit, Yay Lunch!
Why she’s on the list: Chu cofounded Reach Capital in 2015 alongside Carolan, Garvey, and Sosnik after the group spun out of NewSchools’ venture-investing arm, which she also cofounded. Before that, Chu worked in equity research at Merrill Lynch and was a financial analyst at Morgan Stanley.   
Since its founding in 2015, Reach has grown to one of the largest edtech-focused venture-capital firms, raising a $215 million fund for edtech investments earlier this year. 
During her time at Reach, Chu has led deals in stand-out edtech companies, including Handshake, the job-recruiting unicorn for college students, and the online college-course platform Campus.
When evaluating edtech founders, Chu told Insider she likes to see “what drives and motivates their boundless obsession” for solving problems in education.
“This is what has differentiated the most mission-driven edtech founders from the rest,” Chu said.
Location: New York and Austin, Texas
Notable investments: Boundless Life, Humanly, Odyessy, Prisms of Reality, Prof Jim, Sparkwise,
Why she’s on the list: Donnelly has backed some of the more innovative edtech companies at the early stage during her time as the managing director of the pre-seed fund Avalanche VC, including Prisms, a startup that teaches K-12 students math through virtual reality.
But before she was backing early-stage edtech companies, she was leading venture-capital investments at the education giant Pearson, where she deployed $65 million to invest in private schools and edtech companies in emerging markets. She also cofounded Delivery Associates, a public-sector advisory-and-technology firm focused on government operations.
“We’re not interested in platitudes and in the opinions of the crowd,” Donnelly told Insider about her approach to investing at Avalanche VC. “We seek out system rebels who seek to reimagine how learning and earning works.”
Location: Washington, DC
Notable investments: Brilliant, Newsela, FourthRev, Ellevation, SchoolMint
Why she’s on the list: Garvey said that she learned about the importance of a good education at a very young age from her mother, who was a professor. 
Garvey cofounded Reach Capital along with Carolan, Chu, and Sosnik as a dedicated fund focused on edtech companies. Before that, she was at the NewSchools Venture Fund for nearly three years, investing in edtech companies. 
Garvey told Insider that when it comes to deciding on whether to invest in an edtech startup, she looks for “mission-driven founders that have a maniacal focus on designing solutions that educate, empower, and delight their users.”
Location: New York
Notable investments: CareAcademy, Ignite! Reading, FN Logistics, Lynx Educate
Why he’s on the list: Greenfield joined the team at Rethink Capital Partners in 2012 after several years of leading deals in social-impact investing through his own fund, StoneWork Capital LLC. Alongside his fellow managing partner Andre Bennin, Greenfield built out the team’s education investing thesis in Rethink Education. 
Over 11 years later, he’s led some of the firm’s top edtech deals, including the healthcare training company CareAcademy and, more recently, the digital literacy-teaching startup Ignite! Reading
“The best way for someone to break into education technology is to find ways to do important favors for education-technology entrepreneurs,” Greenfield told Insider. “Introducing them to potential customers, distributors, employees, or funders is a way to get on their radar.”
Location: Los Angeles and San Diego 
Notable investments: Amplify, Brainly, Coursera, General Assembly, Merlyn, Photomath, Udemy
Why he’s on the list: Hutter is a veteran edtech entrepreneur. In 1999, he cofounded Edusoft, a K-12-assessment platform that Houghton-Mifflin acquired in 2003. 
Nowadays, Hutter is the founder and managing partner of Learn Capital, which he started with fellow managing partner Greg Mauro in 2010 to invest in education startups. Before Learn Capital, he was a partner at Revolution Ventures, an early-stage venture-investment firm and an affiliate of Founders Fund. Hutter has led the firm’s investments in startups such as Coursera, a massive-open-online-course platform that went public in March 2021. Other notable portfolio-company exits include the tutoring platform Nerdy and the online-course company Udemy
Hutter told Insider that he’s all-in on edtech that’s utilizing AI this year and that it will have profound implications for education going forward.
“AI will revolutionize not only teaching and learning but what we are teaching and learning, and this second derivative is in many ways the most profound,” he said.
Location: New York
Notable investments: Presence Learning, TeachFX, Ellevation, Swing Education, Koalluh
Why he’s on the list: Kupfer’s work in education goes back nearly two decades, when he worked with both Minneapolis and Philadephia’s school districts to integrate new technology into their special-education programs.  He also worked to restore New Orleans’ special-education IT systems in the wake of Hurricane Katrina after floods washed away nearly all of the district’s paper records. 
These days, Kupfer is a venture partner at Reach Capital, where he joined after co-investing alongside the team from his previous fund, Red House Education, for over 11 years on deals including Swing Education and the teacher-coaching startup TeachFX. 
Some of his more notable exits include the English-language course-management platform Ellevation, which Curriculum Associates acquired in 2021; and the special-education telehealth platform Presence Learning, which Spectrum Equity and The Rise Fund purchased a majority stake in at the end of 2021.
Location: Austin, Texas
Notable investments: Coursera, Udemy, General Assembly
Why he’s on the list: As a cofounder and managing partner of Learn Capital, Mauro has had his hand in backing some of the edtech sector’s biggest exits, including Coursera, Udemy, and General Assembly. 
But before he founded one of the top edtech VC funds in 2008, Mauro had his hand in numerous education ventures. He previously incubated Higher Ground Education, one of the largest groups of Montessori schools in the US, where he still sits on the board. He also founded Edmodo, an education-based social network. 
Before founding Learn Capital, Mauro was an investor at Revolution Ventures for over 15 years, where he specialized in backing media and online-gaming startups.
Location: Chicago
Notable investments: Class Technologies, Coursera, Guild, Masterclass, Outschool, Pluralsight 
Why she’s on the list: Quazzo specializes in edtech and seed investments for GSV Ventures, and she’s certainly excelled. She was featured on Insider’s Seed 30, a list of the top female seed investors. 
Quazzo has a keen eye for seed-stage edtech investments, including Class Technologies, which raised over $160 million in its Series B; and the edtech unicorn Guild, which is now valued at nearly $4 billion. She also backed the online course platform Outschool, which hit a $3 billion valuation at the end of 2021.
She told Insider that she looks for startups that provide “return on education,” which means they lower costs, increase access, and improve learning outcomes.
Location: San Francisco
Notable investments: Amira Learning, BYJU’S, Codecademy, Leap, Panorama Education, Thinkful 
Why he’s on the list: Before breaking into venture capital, Patel was an edtech founder himself. He started Personal Academic Trainers, an after-school tutoring company. He also served as the director of technology for New York City’s Success Academy Schools, one of the largest charter-school groups in the city. 
At Owl Ventures, Patel has led the fund’s investments in the Indian edtech unicorn BYJU’S, which was valued at $5 billion as of June. He also backed the consumer coding-class edtech Codeacademy, which Skillsoft bought for $525 million in 2021.
Location: San Francisco
Notable investments: Accelerate Learning, Degreed, DreamBox Learning, Hazel Health, Kiddom, Labster, Newsela, Noodle, Quizlet
Why he’s on the list: Tory Patterson — one of Owl Ventures’ founding partners — helped grow the firm into the largest edtech VC in the nation. The firm announced a $1 billion Fund V at the start of 2022.
Before working at Owl Ventures, Patterson was a partner at Catamount Ventures, where he founded and ran one of the venture industry’s first edtech-investment initiatives. 
Patterson said that Owl Ventures is actively looking for new edtech companies to invest in and advise and that he is “hyper-focused” on startups tackling “the greatest challenges facing the ecosystem including student engagement, student mental health, content accessibility and the global teacher-staffing challenges.”
Location: New York
Notable investments: GoStudent, StudySmarter, MentorShow
Why he’s on the list: As the managing partner of Left Lane Capital, a fund that spun out of Insight Partners, Pujji has grown the fund’s investments in the edtech space, backing the European tutoring unicorn GoStudent, which just raised $430 million to expand into the US. His investment prowess even earned him a spot on the Forbes 30 under 30 list for venture capital in 2022. 
His passion for education startups makes sense given his background; his mother is a math teacher, and Pujji dropped out of The Wharton School to build his own tutoring company. 
“Edtech founders that we back are uniquely mission driven,” Pujji told Insider. “Education has touched and improved their lives and they want to improve access, engagement and results for future generations.”
Location: San Francisco
Notable investments: Andela, Brilliant, Clever, Coursera, Minerva, Nearpod, Outschool, Podium Education
Why he’s on the list: Staton is an edtech-startup founder turned venture capitalist. Before becoming a VC, he started Uversity, a social enrollment-management platform for higher education. And before that, he was a high-school teacher for over four years in the Houston Independent School District. 
When he’s not investing in edtech companies, Staton is the CEO and a cofounder of CoLearn, a company that helps parents looking to homeschool their children build and manage a curriculum. 
As a partner at Learn Capital, Staton has backed the firm’s investments in success stories such as the free online-course platforms Coursera and Brilliant, which help students work through STEM coursework. 
The two traits Staton said he looks for in an edtech founder are “empathy and integrity. Then, the ability to design product market fit and the ability to architect a growth engine. In that order.”
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