Brightwheel, a US-based early years software solutions start-up, has raised $55 million in a Series C funding round that valued the company at $600 million, as it passes the halfway mark to unicorn status.

The round was led by Addition and saw participation from Emerson Collective, Next Play Ventures, Julia and Kevin Hartz and Daniel Shapero, as well as existing investors GGV Capital, Bessemer Venture Partners and Eniac Ventures.

Brightwheel claims to be the first company to offer a one-stop software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution to the pre-school and childcare industry. Its platform enables early years providers to manage operations more efficiently, by facilitating parental engagement and handling billing and HR functions.

Education start-ups selling SaaS offerings have reached attractive valuations in recent years, luring investors with robust recurring revenue growth achieved through ‘sticky’ subscription models sold on an annualised basis.

Compounding this has been the Covid-19 pandemic, which ushered in a widespread shift to home learning, even in the childcare industry, ratcheting up demand for technology solutions that facilitate remote operational management.

Brightwheel extended help by delivering Covid-specific innovations to advance home-based learning, safety, health checks, digital communications and touchless sign-in systems, the company said.

According to PitchBook, Brightwheel’s valuation in 2018 was $115 million.

Date published: 5 February 2021

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