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Financing for students startup StudentFinance raises $5.3M seed from Giant and Armilar

·3-min read

Fintech startup StudentFinance -- which allows educational institutions to offer success-based financing for students -- has raised a $5.3 million (€4.5 million) seed round co-led by Giant Ventures and Armilar Venture Partners. It’s now raised $6.6 million total, to date.

StudentFinance launched in Spain first, followed by Germany and Finland, with the U.K. planned this year. Existing investors Mustard Seed Maze and Seedcamp, along with Sabadell Venture Capital, also participated.

The startup, which launched at the beginning of 2020, provides the tech back end for institutions to offer flexible payment plans in the form of ISAs (income-share agreements). It also provides data intelligence on the employment market to predict job demand.

It now has 35 education providers signed up, managing over €5 million worth of ISAs. It also works with upskilling platforms including Ironhack and Le Wagon. StudentFinance’s competitors include (in the USA) Blair, Leif, Vemo Education, Chancen (Germany-based) and EdAid (U.K.-based).

As for why StudentFinance stands out from those companies, Mariano Kostelec, co-founder and CEO of StudentFinance, said: “StudentFinance is the only platform in this space providing the full end-to-end, cross-border infrastructure to deliver ISAs for students whilst helping to plug the growing skills gap. Not only do we provide the infrastructure to support the ISA financing model, but we also provide data intelligence on the employment market and a career-as-a-service platform that focuses on placing students in the right job. We are creating an equilibrium between supply and demand.”

With an ISA, students only start paying back tuition once they are employed and earning above a minimum income threshold, with payments structured as a percentage of their earnings. This makes it a "success-based model", says StudentFinance, which shifts the risk away from the students. They are likely to be popular as workers need to reskill with the onset of digitization and the pandemic’s effects.

The startup was founded in 2019 by Kostelec, Marta Palmeiro, Sergio Pereira and Miguel Santo Amaro. Kostelec and Santo Amaro previously built Uniplaces, which raised $30 million as a student housing platform in Europe.

Cameron Mclain, managing partner of Giant Ventures, commented: “What StudentFinance has built empowers any educational institution to offer ISAs as an alternative to upfront tuition or student loans, broadening access to education and opportunity.”

Duarte Mineiro, partner at Armilar Venture Partners, commented: “StudentFinance is a great opportunity to invest in because aside from its very compelling core purpose, this is a sound business where its economics are backed by a solid proprietary software technology.”

Sia Houchangnia, partner at Seedcamp, commented: “The need for reskilling the workforce has never been as acute as it is today and we believe StudentFinance has an important role to play in tackling this societal challenge.”

Angel backers include investors, which includes: Victoria van Lennep (founder of Lendable); Martin Villig (founder of Bolt); Ed Vaizey (the U.K.’s longest-serving Culture & Digital Economy Minister); Firestartr (U.K.-based early-stage VC); Serge Chiaramonte (U.K. fintech investor); and more.