The exciting new startup Flooved has been rapidly gathering speed since its conception in 2011. Dog latin for 'river of books', Flooved is a global education platform, providing open access to costly textbooks and lecture notes from contributing professors. With backing from billionaire entrepreneur Lord Ashcroft and an influential board of advisers that features the CEO of YouGov, Flooved seems destined for success.
Founded by Hamish Brocklebank and Nicholas Philippe, their offices are based in White City, far away from the overhyped and overpriced 'tech roundabout'. The co-founders met at Kings University and both have a wide array of experience behind them, from investment banking to advertising and PR, they seem well prepared for the challenge ahead, of growing Flooved to its full potential.
Dr Hugues Azerad, a lecturer at Cambridge University and Advisor for Flooved, described the service as "a platform for exchange and sharing of the essential texts". Simply put, they have created a space where lecturers can upload course documents, from textbooks to notes, and students can view and interact with the documents for free. Fundamentally, Flooved is heeding Paul Graham's golden advice, "make something people want"; advice that is so often overlooked. With 50,000 users spread over 193 countries, they have already been accepted internationally and Professor Ward, pro Vice Chancellor of Education at Durham University believes "the potential is enormous".
Although Flooved currently only caters for Maths and Physics students, co-founder Nicholas says they are "preparing launches in Computer Science, Engineering and more medium term Economics, Chemistry, Biology, Philosophy". As well as expanding into new fields, Flooved is also securing new partners, running trials with universities "in the US as well as in Singapore", adding to their current partnership with University of Sussex and Wolfram Alpha.
With the education technology market in Europe largely un-contested, Flooved stands far above its local competitors. In the US though this field is growing fast, jumping from one ed-tech specific accelerator in 2011 to fifteen or more in 2013, it's a thriving area. Two examples are Edmodo and Class Dojo, both these US startups have grown rapidly and demonstrate the scalability that's possible in this market.
Not surprisingly, the majority of Flooved's users are located in the UK and US, however they also have a significant user base in Columbia, Iran and throughout Africa. Advisor Mary Curnock, CEO of UCAS, explains this international appeal as Flooved is a "must for students who can't access the hard copy material". With referencing foreign professors work through Flooved now easy and simple, students have a new opportunity to expand their education without leaving their current institution. Founder Nicholas says this diversity was always a goal, "we wanted to be the link and bridge the gap between the academia in the Western world and the academia of emerging markets".
Perhaps the most exciting aspect of Flooved is its open sourced content from both lecturers and students alike. Currently they have the worlds best professors in Maths and Physics contributing, which is fantastic, but with students not only learning from the site but contributing as well, it changes how students and lecturers interact over course material, providing better education. This is an exciting prospect in a declining University age and signifies Flooved's innovative potential.