AI-powered math tutoring app Photomath raises $23 million

AI-powered math tutoring app Photomath today announced that it raised $23 million in series B funding. The company says the proceeds will be used to grow headcount, invest in AI, and scale both product and marketing development.

An estimated 65% of households in the U.S. with children report using online learning during the pandemic, with 11% reporting having no live contact with a teacher in the past week (as of November 2020). Test results from the Portland-based nonprofit organization NWEA show the preliminary impact of the shift. The test scores of 4.4 million students in grades 3 through 8 suggest that students lost ground in math, underscoring the need for remote tutoring solutions.

Photomath, which reached 220 million downloads during the pandemic, was founded in 2014 by Damir Sabol, a father who was struggling to help his sons with math homework. Using computer vision and a smartphone camera, the app reads and solves mathematical problems, providing animated calculation steps and instructions about how to approach them.

Photomath supports addition as well as more complex calculus problems, and it ships with a “smart calculator” that lets users enter or edit scanned math problems with a keyboard. Graphs from the app help to visualize math problems, many of which are designed by Photomath’s in-house team of math teachers who research teaching methods and develop frameworks for solving math problems.

Photomath offers a premium service, Photomath Plus, that includes a number of features unavailable in the free version of the app. In addition to teacher-approved problem explanations and math tips and definitions, Photomath Plus offers custom visual aids and word problem solutions.

Despite competition from AI-powered apps like Amy, Happy Numbers, and Pearson’s Aida, Sabol sees Photomath cornering a portion of a tutoring market that’s projected to grow to more than $132 billion by 2024. “Many parents are unable to help their children with math, and the pandemic has shone a light on the struggles students and parents are facing with remote learning. There are clear disparities between families that can afford a tutor and those that can’t, who are being left behind,” he said in a statement. “Photomath is transforming the way students learn and removing the pain points and costs associated with digital learning and tutors. With this latest round of funding, Photomath will continue to provide the much-needed bridge between virtual learning and access to interactive problem solving to help all students.”

Menlo Ventures led Photomath’s latest round of fundraising with participation from GSV Ventures, Learn Capital, Cherubic Ventures, and Goodwater Capital. It brings the company’s total raised to date to over $29 million.

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