Laura Warnier from Liège, 32 years old, is one of the pillars of GoStudent, the largest EdTech company in Europe. His company, worth more than $3.5 billion, aims to revolutionize the education system. The path already traveled in just four years is impressive.
It’s almost in the name of the company. At GoStudent, the Austrian company specializing in private distance learning, we’re not really the type to hang out. Less than a year ago we wrote the portrait of Laura Warnier in the newspaper.
The young Liège who was responsible for the growth of the group was the second employee hired by the co-founders. Last summer the figures were as follows: 400,000 lessons per month, 600 employees and a record fundraising of 205 million euros.
Ten months later, the GoStudent setup has already become ridiculous. Now 1.5 million lessons are given every month, 2,000 employees work for the company and the last financial operation, carried out in January, raised 300 million euros from investors. “It actually goes very fast,” laughs Laura Warnier, who is driving through Brussels for the Tech.eu summit.
There is also no question of slowing down the pace. “At the moment we are not setting any limits. Last year we launched 15 countries, to be in all the markets that seemed interesting to us. Between 2020 and 2021, our growth has increased by 700%,” she explains without saying more about the precise figures of the group.
The latter, having now placed his pawns quite well on Europe, is now attacking the United States. GoStudent recently opened an office there, in Austin, on the 24thand from the group† “There are 50 million students in the United States, so it’s clearly a market with huge potential.”
The mathematician neighbor as a competitor
Since its launch, GoStudent has raised over €660 million and is valued at over €3.5 billion. It’s very simple, in the Ed Tech market GoStudent is: the largest European player and one of the world leaders†
However, the main competitor is not one that links fundraising and market openings. The most important player in the sector is the “shadow market”“, as Laura Warnier calls it. Either the tutor found nearby or the classmate’s big sister. The kind of competition that seems hard to fight.
†Seen from Belgium where the population is very dense, it actually seems very easy to find someone. But that is clearly not the case everywhere. In Austria, for example, outside the big cities, I can tell you it’s very complicated.”
“Before the birth, it was unthinkable for some parents that remote tutoring would be given.”
To get hold of shares of this tenacious competitor, GoStudent must fight for give his noble letters to remote private lessons while the physical version is often preferred by parents.
“Before the delivery, when parents contacted us, when we offered them the first session online, 30% refused. It was unthinkable for them that remote tutoring was given, explains Laura Warnier. Since the covid we have gone below 3%, although we still had difficulties. Parents have experimented with distance learning through classes of 25 students, which is not the best experience. But in private lessons, the interest is very different and our job is also to improve the experience.”
The class will always have its place
Because if the parents are sometimes difficult to convince, from now on it is especially necessary to interest the students who have exchanged the sofas of their class for their office at home for too long. “60% of the students mentioned the lack of contact as the biggest difficulty during this period,” launches Laura Warnier. For her, distance learning will therefore never replace the good old class† But nothing prevents adding a small point of 21and century.
“When we imagine a classroom today, we think of a room that hasn’t changed in years.”
“When we imagine a classroom today, we think of a space that hasn’t changed for years. It’s one of the last sectors that hasn’t been digitized. However, this could have real importance in relieving teachers of certain tasks or teaching much more fun. This can be done through gamefication, interaction with foreign teachers, faster corrections via AI… If education is so unpopular these days, it is also because‘he should not sell himself and reinvent himself’ like any other industry should.”
So the school, like the world of work, could rethink the way it organizes its days. “Today, school from 8.30 am to 4 pm every day face-to-face may no longer be the most suitable form. There must also be more room for freedom and creativity. Gmail was created thanks to the freedom given to engineers† At Google, they have 20% of their time to work on the projects they want.”
To better respond to the demands of the working world, there are more and more claim the integration of the current coding† Laura Warnier too. But by doing it the right way.
“Coding has the advantage that it can be used as a pure skill, but also because it makes logic work. But this current lack of skills leads to a problem in training. There will always be dropouts and young people who need extra support. However, we see that profiles that can help them are hard to find these days. That’s why we have to startbut go gradually†
Belgian complexity as an asset
Although she is no longer in Belgium, Laura Warnier keeps a close eye on her native country’s tech ecosystem. “Today there are investors, but still very little venture capital and this type of investment still deters the market too much,” slips the Liège resident, who is also surprised at the country’s difficulty in taking advantage of its characteristics. “Belgium is super complex. But it must suddenly become a super interesting market. It is a miniature version of Europe. However, the vision there is still too regional”. Three months ago, she joined the Syndicate one initiative, which brings together 32 cleverly made Belgian brains who want to help the most promising Belgian projects. “Our contribution is financial, but the interest is mainly at the level of our knowledge and our own networks. The panel is strong, because it is really very diverse”.