A Coralville technology company has raised $8 million in investment to boost its development of mobile study apps.
Higher Learning Technologies will use the money to hire additional staff and increase its app development, its three founders told The Gazette this week. The company started with a single study app for dental students and now has a catalog of more than 100.
CEO Alec Whitters said it would cost HLT about $1 million to build an app and its software when the company started. Today it’s a fraction of that cost.
“In the beginning we had to build it up from scratch,” Whitters said. “Now, we can tap in to our existing software because we’ve made it so that way it can be very reusable and configurable. We’re able to leverage what we’ve already built.”
The fundraising is the second large investment round for HLT since it started in 2012 and brings the company’s total amount raised to about $15 million, they said.
The company sees their apps, such as the 20 they have for nursing, as the new version of textbooks. Instead of students or professionals carrying a book or sitting in a library to study, they can do it on-the-go on their smartphone.
“We started out in the beginning just focusing on nursing and dental and now we’re expanding much more broadly essentially as a mobile publishing company,” Whitters said.
Adam Keune, chief business development officer, said HLT will explore developing apps for professionals to use after they leave school, such as in professional certification, continuing education and potentially corporate training.
“That’s one of the most demanded things by millennials in the workforce, is they want to keep growing, they want to keep learning and get better at what they’re doing,” Keune said. “Finding them on the devices they’re already using and allowing them to grow from there is a big opportunity for us.”
The company has about 44 employees, with plans to hire 10 to 20 more due to the investment, chief financial officer Ben O’Connor said.
The most recent investment round includes HLT’s previous backers, such as Iowa and New York angel investors, and Des Moines-based venture capital fund Next Level Ventures.
HLT’s status as a “leading mobile learning platform” led to Next Level’s investment, Managing Principal Craig Ibsen said in an email.
“That is a big deal and we have been excited to see HLT continue to grow and expand the use of their platform into areas like professional certification and continuing education,” he said.
The investment in HLT marks the eighth for Next Level in Iowa-based companies, a fund founded on investing specifically in companies in the state.
Next Level previously has invested in Cedar Rapids-based Connectivity, Iowa City-based Meta and Coralville-based Vida Diagnostics.
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