Flat World Knowledge Secures $700,000 in Funding
Flat World Knowledge — Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Nyack, NY - October 21, 2008 - Flat World Knowledge, a publisher of open-source college textbooks, today announced the completion of a $700,000 funding round, bringing total funding to date to $1.4 million. The new funding was provided by several independent angel investors, among whom included media executives,
educators, authors and technology entrepreneurs. The company expects to conclude a larger Series A round from venture investors and/or strategic partners within the next six months.
“We're pleased to complete this funding round under favorable terms, especially in light of the uncertain economic environment,” said Jeff Shelstad, co-founder and chief executive officer of Flat World Knowledge. “Our investors recognize that higher education is one of the few markets that actually benefits from recessionary economic environments. Our unique business model of selling high quality, low cost, open source textbooks is ideally suited to price-conscious students and educators.”
In the last nine months, Flat World Knowledge's open source textbooks have generated excitement among students and academics who appreciate how Flat World will dramatically decrease the cost of learning materials. Students benefit directly from those decreased costs, and educators prefer the open-source approach employed by Flat
World because it gives them far more control over the classroom experience by enabling instructors to customize books to better suit their syllabus and teaching style.
For the last three months and continuing through the Fall 2008 semester, Flat World Knowledge has been conducting the first in-classroom beta trials of its open source textbooks. Over 600 students from 20 colleges and universities across the United States are participating. Initial feedback from students and educators have been promising, and the company is on track for its formal nationwide commercial launch for the Spring semester of 2009.
Concurrent with the close of funding, the company expanded its world-class advisory board to include Jonathan Newcomb. Mr. Newcomb is the former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Simon & Schuster, one of the world's largest publishers of books and instructional materials, and currently serves as senior advisor to Coady Diemar Partners, an investment banking firm. Newcomb joins Jane Swift, former Governor of Massachusetts, Dr. Shahid Ansari, Provost and Dean of Faculty at Babson College, and five other prominent leaders on the advisory board.
“The textbook industry is ripe for a sea change,” said Newcomb. “Flat World Knowledge is in the right place, at the right time, with the right idea and team to make this happen. Flat World Knowledge will become a major driving force in this industry and I'm excited to be part of it.”
Flat World Knowledge Expands Sales and Marketing Team
Flat World Knowledge also announced today the company has expanded its sales and marketing team in preparation for the Flat World's formal commercial launch in 2009. The new executives include Sharon Koch as marketing director, formerly director of marketing for a division of Prentice Hall/Pearson Education; Brett Sullivan as director of Eastern region sales, formerly a senior account manager with McGraw-Hill; and Jennifer Welchans as director of inside sales, formerly regional sales manager for the East Coast for West Publishing and executive marketing manager with Prentice Hall.
“We're humbled that such talented people want to participate in our open source textbook revolution,” said Eric Frank, co-founder and chief marketing officer Flat World Knowledge. “We now have the team in place to execute the next phase of our growth. Each of these new additions brings valuable experience and relationships for developing, marketing and selling textbooks in the higher education marketplace.”
The Flat World Knowledge Business Model
Flat World Knowledge publishes professionally-produced, peer-reviewed college textbooks from leading educational experts. The company offers the textbooks as free web-hosted textbooks to students, and earns its revenue by providing students the option to purchase print-on-demand textbooks, audio textbooks, and digital study aids.
About Flat World Knowledge, LLC
Founded in 2007 by textbook publishing industry veterans Jeff Shelstad and Eric Frank, privately held Flat World Knowledge is a leading publisher of open textbooks for higher education. Flat World Knowledge's textbooks are written by the world's leading subject matter experts. The books are peer-reviewed, professionally edited,
and made available for free online to educators and students. Educators have the freedom to use the books as-is, or to reorganize and edit them to suit their unique classroom requirements. Students can access the books for free online, or purchase alternatives from print-on-demand versions of the books, to audio versions, to downloadable versions and more at a fraction of the cost of traditional textbooks. Students can also purchase from a range of digital study aids that support each book. Flat World Knowledge backs its textbooks with an online social learning platform that allows students to learn from each other as well as from the book. More information about Flat World Knowledge is available on the Web at www.flatworldknowledge.com.