MONTREAL, Oct. 2, 2019 – Korbit Technologies, a Canadian education technology startup, last week closed their seed round of over $2 million USD (2.65 million CAD).
CEO and co-founder Iulian Vlad Serban, an award-winning researcher who completed his Ph.D. in AI and personal assistants technology at Mila (Quebec’s Artificial Intelligence Institute), has been dedicating his expertise to build an AI tutor, which is now autonomously teaching over 2,400 students online in a machine learning course* taught by world-renowned scientist, Yoshua Bengio, and other professors from Mila.
AI tutor – A new way to learn better at low cost
“AI tutors are a gamechanger in the world of education,” Serban believes that providing an AI-powered personalized learning experience can help students to learn faster and better in a cost-effective way. By tailoring the learning experience for each student and providing at every step the most effective educational content, including on-the-fly generated diagrams, explanations and hints, AI tutors have the potential to provide a learning experience incomparable to the traditional classroom. “Through Korbit, a student-friendly AI tutor becomes accessible to everyone. This is an important step towards democratizing education.”
The leading investor in Korbit’s seed round is Khosla Ventures, founded by billionaire and philanthropist Vinod Khosla who has donated millions of dollars to education. Khosla had shared his vision1 that AI tutors would change the accessibility and equality in education, however, he did not find a match to his vision until he met Serban in 2018, right after Korbit had been founded. “AI tutors have the potential to fix the fundamental problems of our education system by leaving scarce teacher time for the human elements of education like mentoring and coaching. (Also,) AI tutors will personalize education for each student at a level teachers cannot do. They will be able to assess where a student is, know the map of their knowledge and gaps in it and be able to guide a student towards their personal learning objectives at far lower levels of spending.”
Real Ventures, one of Canada’s most active early-stage VCs, joined the round having led the company’s pre-seed as part of the Orbit strategy, which focuses on investing in Montreal’s startup ecosystem. “We were inspired by Korbit’s mission of using cutting edge AI to make education accessible for everyone. Korbit’s proven team, their scientific approach and their close ties to leading research labs puts them in a unique position to reshape online education,” said Isaac Souweine, Partner at Real Ventures.
Bengio: Democratizing education through AI will transform the education world
Korbit is a spin-off from the Montreal-based Mila lab led by professor Yoshua Bengio, the research lab responsible for major breakthroughs in artificial intelligence, including the understanding of human language and the development of intelligent personal assistants. In addition to the high-profile advisor Yoshua Bengio, Korbit is also backed by professors Joëlle Pineau (Facebook), Aaron Courville (Mila) and Laurent Charlin (HEC, Mila) who provide scientific advice and also help teach students on the platform. “Korbit’s mission to democratize education through AI will transform the education world, and I’m excited to help them achieve this monumental goal!” explained Bengio.
With over 2,400 students and hundreds more signing up every month, Korbit is now developing a series of data science courses powered by its AI tutor. Many of their courses, including data science for public health and data science for climate change will be free for everyone. “Our mission is to bring personalized, high-quality education to everyone in the world.” stated Serban. In the next five years, the human race will face inevitable climate change and will need educated people to save our world and fight for climate justice,” said Serban. At the moment, the startup is also seeking partnerships with academic institutions and online education platforms.
*English, French, Spanish, Hindi, Arabic, Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese subtitles are now available in the lecture videos of Korbit’s Machine Learning Course.
Korbit Technologies is a Montreal-based startup building the future of online education: intelligent tutors, which use AI to teach students through interactive exercises and conversations. Students solve exercises while conversing with an intelligent tutor online, which adapts itself to each student’s personal learning profile and provides targeted pedagogical interventions.
Korbi, the AI tutor, is real-time interactive and personalized, which is known to make a big difference in learning outcomes and student motivation, and have been designed to scale to thousands of courses and millions of students. Korbit’s mission is to democratize education by providing high quality, interactive and personalized education for students around the world at low cost.
1TechCrunch (2012). Will We Need Teachers Or Algorithms?