Boundless Learning raises $8 million to disrupt the textbook industry with free online course books

Boundless Learning raises $8 million to disrupt the textbook industry with free online course books

As college tuition costs increase, the cost of buying a semester’s worth of textbooks poses an added burden to university students. That coupled with the physical weight of textbooks, and the fact that many science and technology books are likely to be outdated within a few years, paints a picture of an industry begging for disruption.

One Boston-based ed tech startup is tackling this space with a vision to create a learning platform that is both useful and relevant to university students around the world. Today, Boundless Learning announces its $8 million Series A round led by Venrock with participation from Kepha Partners, Founder Collective, Nextview Ventures and SV Angel to bring its total funding to date to $9.7 million.

CEO Ariel Diaz says the platform offers university students free, digital, and social textbooks that draw information from openly licensed educational resources as well as those put into the public domain by the government. He and his two co-founders, Aaron White and Brian Balfour launched their beta product in November 2011 and have since attracted thousands of students at over a thousand universities.

Students sign up for the platform and input information like what kinds of classes they’re taking and what upcoming subjects and topics are marked on the syllabus. I asked Diaz how the platform sorts information by relevance for the students or how it curates the openly licensed and free educational content out there and he replied, “That’s our secret sauce.”

When I poked fun at them for not giving up their “secret sauce”, CMO Brian Balfour apologized for not being able to dive deeper. “It is something that we will talk more about in the future,” he says. “Our content process is something that we have spent a lot of time developing and optimizing. It changes quickly as we learn new ways to improve it. We will eventually open it up to the community, which is why we prefer to reserve talking about it at the moment.”

Currently, Boundless Learning offers materials for Biology, Economics and Psychology classes. Take a look at the types of content Boundless Learning is offering below:

 Supri Suharjoto via shutterstock 

Read next: Kony 2012 campaign continues as Invisible Children uploads video 'Part II'