People’s Champion finalist 2018: Perlego

Thanks to Perlego’s virtual library, students no longer have to choose between books and food. Has it got your People's Champion vote?

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Start-up name: Perlego
Founders: Gauthier Van Malderen, Matthew Davis
Started in: April 2016
Based in: London
Business description: Online textbook subscription service giving users access to hundreds of thousands of learning resources

Shortlisted category:

Venture-funded Business of the Year

The Perlego story

According to the National Union of Students, the average UK student spends £400 per year on textbooks. With many surviving on maintenance grants and part-time jobs, access to essential learning materials should not come at such an extortionate cost, especially when students often don’t need the whole book and will only use a couple of chapters.

Gauthier Van Malderen thought that there had to be a better way.

Inspired by subscription services such as Netflix and Spotify, he saw the potential for the subscription service model to be applied to the costly and inefficient industry of academic literature.

Van Malderen first came up with the idea for Perlego whilst he himself was studying at Cambridge and surrounded by cash-strapped students forced to pay more for a single textbook than their weekly meals.

Together with school friend Matthew Davis (now Perlego CTO), Gauthier combined funds from the success of earlier entrepreneurial ventures with VC and Angel investments. With a total of £4.3 million secured, they launched Perlego in April 2016.

Perlego’s model is simple: for a fixed fee of £12 per month, users receive access to upwards of 220,000 titles as well as an array of online study tools and resources.

The business currently has relationships with over 1,500 publishers such as Oxford University Press, Princeton University Press, Macmillan Higher Education and Cengage Learning.

Perlego believe that they are a cut above the online platforms that offer e-textbook materials at a slight discount to the consumer, due to their accessibility, affordability and flexibility’.

What’s more, they’re committed to developing even more features, including a strong emphasis on access: They say they’re working on collaborative learning functionalities, AI-enhanced discovery, and even a dyslexia style guide.

In his own words, Van Malderen believes that his “hustle should begin to pay off very soon, both for the company and for students.”

Why Perlego made our shortlist:

Not only is Perlego’s model of ‘Netflix for textbooks’ a brilliant idea  but its success will surely pay off in the long term, not just for this smart company and its hard-working team, but the global academic community.

If textbooks and other learning resources are made more accessible to those who need them, academic around the world will become fairer and more democratic.

Where to find out more about Perlego:

Twitter: @perlegobooks

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