Inspiring women: Sofia Fenichell
With £2m funding, Fenichell has built an educational start-up which helps children to gain a richer vocabulary and lifts teachers to teach to a higher level
Name: Sofia Fenichell
Founded: Mrs Wordsmith in 2016
Start-up elevator pitch: Mrs Wordsmith’s mission is to teach every young person the 10,000 words they need to know by the age of 18 in order to reach their full potential.
Funding raised: £2m
Follow her: @sofiafenichell
Who is Sofia Fenichell?
Sofia Fenichell is a self-confessed lover of words. The edtech entrepreneur previously wrote for a living as a tech analyst in London for 12 years, and now juggles running her start-up with being an agented writer for a novel in the works; Silicon Sally.
Given her passion for prose, it’s unsurprising that Fenichell’s business venture, the aptly-named Mrs Wordsmith, specialises in writing and reading skills – providing a solution to “the general poor quality of educational materials on the market”.
Launched in 2016 and based in London, Mrs Wordsmith is a subscription service that helps young people accelerate their vocabulary through visual learning.
Dismayed at the homework sheets her children brought home from school which were “boring, sometimes factually or grammatically incorrect, and often random in sequence”, Fenichell sought to create better materials for children at school and at home.
With a team of engineers, linguists and educators from the likes of Cambridge University and Criteo, Mrs Wordsmith has identified the words children need to learn and helps them to encounter these on a ‘10,000-word journey’ illustrated by award-winning artists behind films such as Madagascar and Hotel Transylvania.
Having recently attended a trade mission to Silicon Valley with London mayor Sadiq Khan, Fenichell has ambitions to launch Mrs Wordsmith to the American market and is also building a machine learning app to re-imagine the dictionary.
How has she won over investors?
Just this month, Fenichell announced that Mrs Wordsmith had raised £2m in a seed round led by venture capital investors Kindred Capital.
Fenichell says that she was able to secure the investment because her business solves problem that people care about, in a way that is proven to be effective.
Her advice to budding female entrepreneurs is to follow the same approach and “focus on solving a burning and relevant problem for which you have a strong, possibly even painful intuition.” Do this, she argues, and “the funding process then shifts from ‘convincing investors’ to ‘investors asking how they can help clarify and accelerate the vision’: