We Got Funded: MENA-Based Edtech Platform Playbook Raises US$700,000 In A Pre-Seed Funding Round
Conceptualized by three women- Wafa AlObaidat, Ismahan Al Saad, and Shreya Rammohan- Playbook is an annual subscription-based edutainment platform that offers educational masterclasses for women.
MENA-based edtech platform Playbook has closed a pre-seed funding round of US$700,000 led by US-based venture capital firm 500 Global, Saudi Arabia-based sovereign wealth fund Sanabil Investments, Kuwait-based venture capital firm Faith Capital, Saudi-based angel investor network Women Spark, and other investors.
Conceptualized by three women- Wafa AlObaidat, Ismahan Al Saad, and Shreya Rammohan- Playbook is an annual subscription-based edutainment platform that offers educational masterclasses for women. "These masterclasses were curated with the intention to redefine career progression for women," explains co-founder and CEO AlObaidat. "Users can set up custom profiles, identify their skills and career goals, engage with a multitude of classes on diverse categories of interest- especially emerging professions, network with a community to crowdsource solutions, and immerse themselves in a gamified experience with learning goals and progress trackers."
The platform, which offers courses in both English and Arabic, generates revenue by engaging with individuals for annual memberships as well as partnerships with enterprises that include memberships for their female executives. "As part of a phased approach, we are focused on the MENA region primarily," AlObaidat adds. The yet-to-launch platform also hopes to create a diverse online community of women called The Campus, whose members will be able to virtually network via artificial intelligence (AI) powered tools, and gain access to on-demand mentorship, live events, and job boards. "Our audience ranges from students exploring the career paths available to them, career transitioners identifying the right networks that helps them align with their goals, female entrepreneurs seeking a community of other founders that are navigating or have navigated similar challenges, as well as career professionals seeking to level up the corporate ladder into leadership roles meritoriously," AlObaidat explains.
As of 2021, the global edtech industry has been valued at US$106.04 billion, and it is expected to grow at a stellar compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.9% till 2028. But this promising statistic isn't all that prompted AlObaidat and her co-founders to create Playbook. "This is an exciting time for the region with millions of women entering the workforce in the MENA region," says AlObaidat. "The region is seeing several job opportunities and leadership verticals opening up. Our experience indicated to us that there was a need for an authentic and value-driven content platform, like Playbook, for women to grow professionally and personally."
At the same time, with the discourse surrounding gender equality and women empowerment gaining more prominence among MENA businesses, AlObaidat says now is the perfect time to launch Playbook. "Governments in the MENA region have also been taking a proactive policy driven stance to strengthen economic growth and quality of life through gender balance mandates," she adds. "All this indicates that the region is now ready to fast-track development in this direction through more well-defined policy-setting, career opportunities and training needs analysis." AlObaidat also believes that a women-oriented edtech platform like Playbook can lead to some much-needed shifts in societal perceptions as well. "It's important that we all subscribe to the fact that women can get along, support each other, want the best for each other and can be champions and allies to work with.," she says. "It's important to shift the narrative that is usually pushed about us not being allies. We must believe and welcome women leaders in positions of power and get behind them."
Finding investors who also believed in this vision was the most significant aspect of the fundraising process, says the CEO. Commenting on her firm's decision to fund Playbook, 500 Global MENA Partner Amal Dokhan says, "Playbook enters the market at the right time to present a solution to the public and private sector, as policymakers appear to increasingly institute SDG goals and more job opportunities open up for women." Meanwhile, Deemah AlYahya, founder of Women Spark, spoke of how Playbook's vision for the MENA region aligned with those of her firm. "Playbook helps us further our mission to invest in accelerating the career growth cycle of the female talent pool, and build more prosperous economies," AlYahya adds.
Given the fresh infusion of capital in Playbook, AlObaidat says there is much to look forward to in 2022. "We aim to close our seed round, record more than 20 masterclasses this year, launch our community platform and our AI-integrated networking tools in the community," she says. "The future with Playbook is looking great, and it's filled with opportunities for everyone to come together and create measurable and significant changes in the dynamics of the corporate world and entrepreneurship."