Turning 'Spotify for Textbooks' into 4.8 mln dollars

, by Tomaso Eridani
Perlego recently won a new funding round. Bocconi graduates Van Malderen and Muzi Falconi will now expand from 200,000 UK titles into new markets like Italy

Proposing ad-vantages for both students and publishers, Perlego, the online subscription service described as the "Spotify for textbooks," founded by Bocconi alumni Gauthier Van Malderen and Oliviero Muzi-Falconi, is busy revolutionizing the academic textbook market. Founded in 2016, Perlego offers students access to a digital library of over 200,000 textbooks for a monthly subscription fee. Students thus save on their outlay for textbooks whilst publishers can counter losses from piracy and the used-book market. The startup has recently closed $4.8 million in funding to boost its plans for expansion, including offering Italian content next year.

"The idea came to us when we finished our studies and saw the huge amount of textbooks we had amassed – it seemed just such an antiquated and expensive system, compared to how we were now accessing films and music online through subscription services," says Oliviero, 25-year old from Italy.

Both were in London at the time - Oliviero working in venture capital and founding a swimwear startup, and Gauthier after a Masters at Cambridge - and they began putting together their idea, creating a prototype and gathering £500,000 in a first round of funding. "The toughest part was convincing publishers to come on board - ours was a very disruptive model for the industry. But our business model slowly convinced them – publishers know this generation of students is used to streaming online and publishers themselves are worried about online pirating, whilst we guarantee them secure revenue.

And authors have their rights protected," says Gauthier, 26-year old from Belgium.
The digital library currently counts upon collaborations with more than 650 publishers, including Pearson, Oxford University Press, Princeton University Press and Macmillan Higher International who receive a commission based on consumption. The platform currently offers a catalogue of over 200,000 textbooks. Students pay £12 a month for unlimited access to textbooks and the ebooks can be consulted on PCs and tablets, streamed not downloaded, and can be annotated with highlights and notes. The mobile version of the app is to launch by early 2019.

And a in a new round of funding Perlego recently raised $4.8 million from Accelerated Digital Ventures, a UK based VC firm.
"The majority of our library is currently English-language and our customers are mainly students in the UK. But with this new funding we can really build on our plan to expand the team and grow into and across Europe, such as in Italy with specific Italian-language content by September next year, as well as further developing the product, like developing the mobile app," says Oliviero.

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