👊🏽 Special Edition: Ganas and I invested in Papaya!
This is a special edition of Lolita's Newsletter, monthly newsletter of curated actionable insights and resources for 20,000 underestimated founders, funders, and friends.
Hello everyone! As we wrap up Hispanic Heritage Month, I'm excited to announce that Ganas Ventures and I have invested in Papaya, a Latina-led startup, and we extend the invitation for you to join us in supporting this promising venture!
🏃🏽♀️💨 Catch up.
Last March, we launched Ganas Ventures. Since then, we invested in Latitud’s seed round, co-led by a16z/NFX, Around’s seed round led by Leap Global Partners, Shappi’s seed round led by Sixers Innovation Lab, Leadsales’s pre-seed round led by Ulu Ventures, Masa’s seed alongside DCG, Storybook’s seed round alongside Magma Partners, Ask Alex’s pre-seed round led by Village Global, Distribute’s pre-seed round led by LiveOak and others we’ll be announcing soon. We’ve raised capital from unicorn founders and LP/VC thought leaders, and Ganas and I were featured on the Nasdaq Tower for our leadership in equity within the startup-VC ecosystem! Now, we’re excited to announce our latest investment into Papaya, brought to us by Ganas Deal Partner Ileana Gonzalez, formerly at Techstars and now SomosVC!
Ganas Ventures and I have invested in Papaya, alongside pre-seed round lead investor Chingona Ventures and participating investors Collide Capital, Parade Ventures, and Morales Capital. Their mentors and advisors include education and school sales experts such as Steve Roberts, Accenture West Coast Lead, and Dr. Michael Barnes, Founder of TeacherTalent.
🦄 👊🏽 Papaya investment TL;DR
There’s a lot to love about Papaya. They are…
visionary founders with market-startup-fit in STEM tutoring
tapping into a growing $196.4B global online tutoring market
profitable, have 50% margins, 35% MoM growth, and has over 10 contracts with the largest school districts in the US
backed by edtech investors and advisors
Papaya Tutor is a tech-enabled STEM tutoring marketplace designed to help students match with tutors who can simplify complex subjects. They are doing this by building a platform recruiting STEM college students from emerging countries, starting with Latin America, to help US-based minority students at a fraction of the cost.
Team. Sandra LaPlante, Papaya’s CEO & Founder, experienced the problem of being unable to afford STEM tutoring, outsourced her tutoring to Peru, and, thanks to it, graduated with an Engineering Degree. She later worked at Accenture and consulted for top companies, like Google, Meta, Intel, and Starbucks. That’s where she learned corporate strategy, tech, and software automation. John Cook, Papaya’s CRO and CTO, has 14 years of tech, sales, and startups experience in companies like Accenture, Oracle, and Legion and has a degree in Computer Science. Education sector expert with a network of over 500 school principals and superintendents, Dr. Dora Renaud has joined the team as VP of Partnerships and sits on Papaya’s board.
Traction. Papaya has achieved remarkable traction in the education technology sector, bootstrapping to secure contracts with over 10 school districts, some of the largest in the US, achieving profitability with a 50% profit margin, sustaining a remarkable 35% month-over-month (MoM) growth in sales, and tracking towards a six-figure Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) target. Their strategic partnership with the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) has led to adoption by prestigious institutions, including Cal State, UMICH, UTRGV, and UTSA, cementing their presence in the academic world.
Market. The global online tutoring market is expected to hit $196.4B by 2027 at a CAGR of 15.4%.
Catalyzing the future of STEM. Papaya is using its cutting-edge technology and innovative infrastructure to revolutionize the way students access high-quality STEM education. Not only are they making it more affordable and accessible to all, but they are also empowering top college students in emerging markets, starting with Latin America, to earn extra income through tutoring side hustles. Through their emphasis on emotional intelligence, Papaya's tutors are able to provide compassionate, personalized learning experiences that help students thrive. With Papaya, the future of STEM education is bright and inclusive.
Community-driven. Papaya is a community-driven platform that connects students with top STEM tutors in Latin America. Through their active WhatsApp channel, mentors can foster a sense of community, exchange knowledge and experiences, and support one another in providing high-quality tutoring. This helps to ensure that students receive the best possible education, and that mentors are retained and motivated to continue providing their expertise and guidance. By building a strong, collaborative community, Papaya is helping to make STEM education more accessible, engaging, and effective for all.
Roadmap. Papaya’s vision is to democratize STEM access and develop the most extensive STEM student network worldwide where companies can start engaging and recruiting with top talent entering the workforce. The first step is making STEM accessible through tutoring and producing STEM talent.
😇 🚀 You can also join the Papaya family.
Disclaimer: Ganas Ventures is a 506c fund that allows us to publicly solicit for our raise. All are welcome to apply to become an LP; however, commitments to Ganas Ventures will only be accepted by accredited investors.