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International student ‘neobank’ Leap raises $17m

Overseas education platform Leap has raised $17 million in Series B funding that it will use to expand its geographical footprint and ramp up its tech and business teams.

Leap Finance funded 500+ students in Fall 2020. Photo: Leap Finance

"Right now the value chain is fragmented and a student has to interact with several entities in their study abroad journey"

The digital platform offers a host of end-to-end services to international students, ranging from education loans, credit cards and admissions counselling.

The funding round was led by Singapore-based Jungle Ventures, while Sequoia Capital India and Owl Ventures – the world’s largest ed-tech focused VC fund – both participated.

Added to a $5.5m round in 2020, Leap has raised a total of $22.5m to date.

With headquarters in San Francisco and offices in Bangalore, India, Leap founded its two platforms – and – since 2019.

“We are a one-stop solution for everything that a study abroad aspirant needs”

“We are a one-stop solution for everything that a study abroad aspirant needs,” said Arnav Kumar, co-founder of Leap.

“India has the largest pool of STEM educated English speaking graduates and millions of them want global degrees and careers. This is a big decision and there is a real need for accurate information and expert guidance,” he added.

The startup also offers networking and mentorship to aspiring international students.

Its community of 500,000 members “helps students evaluate career options, network with seniors and shortlist the best courses”, Kumar added.

“We then use this data to offer personalised test prep, professional counselling services, visa guidance and financial products.”

The new capital will help to expand Leap’s product portfolio, as it plans to further strengthen its technology & business functions team, expand geographically and grow its student communities “aggressively” as it seeks to serve 150,000 students in their study abroad journeys in 2021.

In 2020, it helped over 20,000 students in their study abroad ambitions.

“Our mission is to make global education and careers more accessible to meritorious Indian students,” Vaibhav Singh, co-founder of Leap, added.

The Leap international education loan product launched in 2019, offering zero collateral, full cost of study, dollar loans to Indian students pursuing education in the US. Leap is also shortly launching a credit card tailored to the needs of international students.

The product suite has since been expanded and it offers provisions for Canada, UK and Australia.

“We are unlocking access to financial products and career services which international students are traditionally locked out of,” Singh continued.

“You can think of us as a neobank offering tailored products to the international student community.”

Singapore-based venture capital firm Jungle Ventures said Leap marks its “first investment in the edu-tech space”.

As the second-largest market for overseas enrolment, with annual enrolments up more than 300% in the past decade, India – along with markets in South East Asia such as Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia – present “a huge opportunity in an otherwise fragmented landscape” said Jungle Ventures founding partner Amit Anand.

“Leap is addressing this huge opportunity through its end-to-end tech platform and a community-first approach,” Anand noted.

“We are proud to partner with Vaibhav and Arnav in their growth journey as they become the default destination for outbound students pursuing international education.”

Sequoia Capital India praised Leap for the resilience it showed during 2020. 200,000 monthly active users exchanged nine million chat messages in February 2021.

“We are impressed by the resilience of the Leap team during the last year, where not only have they served hundreds of students with their financing solutions but have also expanded with Leap Scholar providing counselling to thousands of Indian students looking to study abroad,” said Ashish Agrawal, principal at Sequoia Capital India.

“This vertically integrated strategy has materially strengthened the moats for Leap”

“This vertically integrated strategy has materially strengthened the moats for Leap. Sequoia Capital India partnered with Leap pre-launch and is thrilled to deepen the commitment.”

Managing director of Owl Ventures Amit Patel added there is a “clear need for a one-stop, global student mobility platform”.

“Right now the value chain is fragmented and a student has to interact with several entities in their study abroad journey. Leap’s solution ties it all together. We are excited to partner with them as they unlock value in this fast-growing segment.”



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