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Descomplica Lands US$5m From Social+Capital

6 February 2014

(TechCrunch) Internet penetration and social media usage are on the rise in every corner of the globe, but few can hold a candle to the level of adoption one finds in Brazil. According to the Internet Telecommunication Union, the UN’s specialized agency for information and communications technology, the percentage of people using the Internet in Brazil skyrocketed from 9 percent in 2002 to nearly 50 percent in 2012. What’s more, with over 60 million Facebook users, Brazil is now the third largest market for the social network outside of the U.S. and India.

Thanks to its high level of Internet usage and the growing popularity of social media, Brazil is undergoing a digital transformation, which brings with it a number of promising opportunities. While the growth of eCommerce in Brazil gets most of the attention, Descomplica is one of a growing number of local startups that sees big potential in Brazil’s rapidly changing educational landscape.

Thanks to its decentralized educational framework, Descomplica thinks that Brazil can not only serve as a sort of natural testing ground for educational innovation (and policy), but is primed for a true, online classroom. Launched in March of 2011, Descomplica has been on a mission to become the go-to, full-service online classroom for Brazil.

To do so, the company decided to start with the high school market, developing a content library and set of tools that aim to help students better prepare for university entrance exams and improve their test scores. Since then, Descomplica’s primary focus has been content, or said another way, on building out an extensive library of test prep materials and study guides and offering students as many ways to consume that material as possible.

While this has mainly taken the shape of online video content — as co-founder Marco Fisbhen tells us that more than three million students used Descomplica last year and more than 500K watched its live, broadcasted online lessons — the startup has been keen to diversify. To cater to the growing mobile adoption among Brazilian teens, Descomplica offers SMS-based study tools as well, and is working with “three of the four big mobile phone carriers in Brazil,” the founder says. More than 200K students are now using the startup’s SMS-based mobile education services, he added.

This effort to provide full coverage for all the ways in which Brazilian students consume content led the company to develop a DVD collection for its content library, which ended up selling “hundreds of thousands of copies,” Fisbhen says. And, up to this point, all product decisions have been made in service of reducing the iniquity that they believe has come to define the Brazilian learning market. (Particularly, what Fisbhen describes as the astronomical price of quality tutoring services, which are really the only ones that provide any real value.