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StudyPortals lands “Messi” investment

StudyPortals, the Dutch start-up modelling itself as a global student marketplace, has announced a new investment from David Vismans. He is CPO of Booking.com and was described as the “Lionel Messi of building marketplaces,” by StudyPortals’s CEO Edwin van Rest.

The founders of the student marketplace (van Rest in the centre) say it has matured, hence recent investments. Photo: StudyPortals

KEEN were not allowed, rather than unable, to invest again

The amount invested by Vismans into the Eindhoven-based firm is so far undisclosed, though it follows a €5m injection from KEEN Venture Partners in 2017. Vismans has made the investment independently, not as a corporate gesture by Booking.com.

“I call him the Lionel Messi of marketplaces… it’s cool to get his support”

The announcement also comes three weeks after StudyPortals revealed an extension to its leadership team with a chief commercial officer, an executive vice president of partnership strategy, and a director of people & culture all hired.

These advancements are part of what van Rest referred to as “strengthening the castle” of StudyPortals.

“[It] includes professionalising the company. In that context we’ve hired the three executives, and also we’ve been looking for the most important people that can help us on this journey,” he told The PIE News.

“We’re looking for more technical or industry experts now – building a global marketplace product is very important, and I think David is probably [the best] in Europe. Sometimes I call him the Lionel Messi of building marketplaces. So it’s cool to get his support,” van Rest added.

The source of the additional revenue – and expertise – is clearly important to the Dutchman. When quizzed by The PIE on speculation heard within the sector regarding the source and reasoning behind the investment, he insisted that StudyPortals is not desperate for cash, only hungry for growth.

“We’re well on schedule [financially] – this year was, like 2017, not [about] the cash. It was about attaching the right people to us… to make sure that we can fulfil the mission of digitising education choice as fast as possible,” he said.

Continuing to explain why StudyPortals sought another investment partner, rather than a second round involving KEEN, van Rest said it was not possible, as it would not fit the expansionist goal of the young firm.

“This was not a round when they were allowed to participate. It was not on the cards for them, even if they wanted it, and I’m sure they want it,” he said, remarking that no existing shareholder was considered.

“I can confirm it’s not true that KEEN [are unhappy or thinking of pulling out],” he added.

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