TECH CRUNCH: Is For-Profit the Future of Education in Brazil?

Career College Central Summary:

  • Brazilian startup Descomplica (“Uncomplicate”) has raised an $8 million Series B to build an education entertainment company that the company hopes could actually change the future of education in Brazil.
  • Descomplica is already known as a test prep platform for Brazil’s standardized college entrance exam tests, delivering a library of 15,000 videos, and eight hours of live-streamed content seven days a week, to over eight million students a month. In fact, a physics class with 250K simultaneous viewers this year became a worldwide Twitter trending topic.
  • Descomplica students average 80 minutes per visit on the site, logging in every three days, and and 78% out-perform the national average on the entrance exams. For all this, Descomplica charges about $3 a month — less than 1% of the cost of a typical test prep course offered in Brazil.
  • Entrance exam test prep is largely limited to the elite class in Brazil, and only available in major cities. Descomplica CEO and founder Marco Fisbhen spent years as a physics teacher for one of these test prep courses, which can cost $500-$1000 a month. (By comparison, minimum wage in Brazil about $250 a month.)
  • “There’s this dynamic where the A (upper) class pays a ton of money for test prep, and ends up occupying all of the public university spots,” Fisbhen explains. In Brazil, the best universities are public and charge zero tuition. “Seeing as how they’re the best and they’re free, it generates a big willingness to pay. So the prep school industry is a really expensive way for the A class to take the free spots. It’s totally perverse.”
  • As befits a professor with a background in engineering, Fisbhen decided to see if he could scale the work he was doing. “I said we could do something really good and only charge $5 a month, not $1000,” says Fisbhen. Descomplica secured a seed round in 2010 and launched in March 2011 as a library of test prep videos, featuring Fisbhen and his colleagues, available for less than $3 a month.

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