Young entrepreneurs: Gauthier Van Malderen and Matthew Davis, Perlego

With their online platform for buying and reading e-textbooks, this duo have global ambitions to disrupt traditional educational publishing…

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Names: Gauthier Van Malderen and Matthew Davis
Company: Perlego
Ages: Both 25

While spending over £300 per year on hefty, outdated textbooks, university student Gauthier Van Malderen wondered why there wasn’t a more modern solution to the expense and inconvenience:

“I was using Netflix for films, Spotify for music and thought, ‘Surely this could work for textbooks!’”

Amazingly, the student wasn’t new to business and already had two ventures under his belt: Teenage Tourist, which he launched aged 19 and later sold to Robby Rai, and student marketing company Iconic Matter, which sold in 2015.

His co-founder Matthew Davis, who went to school with him, had a similarly impressive background in website building, which he had been doing since the age of 12.

A match made in heaven, the pair teamed up and launched Perlego – an online platform for buying, storing and reading educational e-books – in January 2017.

By charging readers a monthly subscription fee (which it says costs less than a single textbook) while paying 65% of revenue back to publishers, Perlego aims to create an affordable solution for students and give publishers an opportunity that is just as lucrative as print publishing.

In just over a year, Davis and Van Malderen have grown their business to a team of 12 and raised a whopping £850,000 funding. Angel investors in the business include LOVEFiLM’s Simon Franks, Zoopla’s Alex Chesterman, and Peter Hinssen and Remi Saby of Mister Auto.

The business has also secured a partnership with Ingram, “the world’s largest e-book distributor”. As a result, Perlego now boasts e-books from over 1,000 publishers.

As young entrepreneurs, the duo say they are uniquely positioned to understand how their generation interacts with the online world, and in five years’ time they hope to have gone global and opened a US office.

Considering the pace at which Perlego is growing, we believe Davis and Van Malderen are well on their way towards achieving this goal.

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