Higher-ed startup Quad Learning launches with $11 million from NEA, others

Quad Learning, a District ed-tech startup launched by former Novak Biddle General Partner Phil Bronner, launched Wednesday with a total $11 million from a network of mostly local investors, including New Enterprise Associates and New Atlantic Ventures.

SWaN and Legend Fund and Comcast Ventures – both of whom have played a quiet role as venture funders in the D.C. market over the past year – also joined in the financings, alongside other unnamed institutional investors. The venture haul is composed of a roughly $3.4 million seed round last year and the most recent Series A round of about $7.9 million, Bronner said in an interview.

Quad Learning’s core program, American Honors, is a far-reaching initiative aimed at bridging the gap between community college and four year institutions. It provides its schools with an honors curriculum that mixes a heavily social online learning management system – one that Bronner said more closely resembles Facebook than a traditional LMS like Blackboard’s – with student advisory services geared toward preparing students to make the transfer.

“The in-class experience is a synchronous online experience, where you have videos of not only the instructors, but all the individual students,” Bronner said. “It forms an environment where the students communicate as much with each other as they do with the professor.”

Central to the company’s proposition is the “2+2″ model, where a student spends his first two years of higher ed at a community college honors program provided by Quad Learning, and then goes on to complete his bachelor’s degree at a four-year school.

American Honors pilots are live at two campuses: Community College of Spokane and Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana. Students pay a premium on tuition to enroll in the program, the fee from which provides Quad Learning its revenue.

Bronner, alongside former Colorado State Sen. Chris Romer, has been working on the startup in semi-stealth-mode for some time. We first wrote about the company in June 2012 as Bronner scaled back his role at Bethesda-based Novak Biddle Venture Partners.

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