Sketchy Medical Raises $3 Million to Expand Beyond Medicine

Ben Bergman

Ben Bergman is the newsroom's senior finance reporter. Previously he was a senior business reporter and host at KPCC, a senior producer at Gimlet Media, a producer at NPR's Morning Edition, and produced two investigative documentaries for KCET. He has been a frequent on-air contributor to business coverage on NPR and Marketplace and has written for The New York Times and Columbia Journalism Review. Ben was a 2017-2018 Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Economic and Business Journalism at Columbia Business School. In his free time, he enjoys skiing, playing poker, and cheering on The Seattle Seahawks.

Sketchy Medical Raises $3 Million to Expand Beyond Medicine

Sketchy Medical is getting a Silicon Valley VC assist to help it shake up the $9 billion textbook industry.

The Los Angeles company announced Wednesday it has expanded its Series A round with a $3 million infusion from Reach Capital, a Bay Area venture capital firm that focuses exclusively on education. The investment comes after the Chernin Group acquired a majority stake in the startup for $30 million in September.

Founded in 2013 by four medical students, Sketchy Medical produces videos to help students memorize the dense material that getting through med school requires. Tufts, Georgetown, Tulane and University of South Carolina are among the schools that have purchased subscriptions for their students.

With its new capital, the company now wants to break into other fields as it launches its own animation studio.

"We've got this pedagogy that we've been able to successfully apply to really complex medical school material," said Saud Siddiqui, M.D., co-founder & CEO at SketchyMedical. "But we don't think that this method of learning is just reserved for those people. It's really something that really folks from all walks of life are going to be able to benefit from."

Siddiqui says Reach Capital, with its track record of getting young companies in the classroom, will be an ideal partner.

"They've scaled companies before," he said "They have been there. So having them at our side as we go out there into the hands of more students is going to be incredibly important."

Reach Capital was founded in 2015 by Jennifer Carolan who previously spent seven years as a public school history teacher in Illinois. She says she looks for startups that already have established "incredible user love" which she says Sketchy, with its 30,000 users, has already done.

"We were attracted by the rabid fan base," Carolan said. "We look for companies that have been adopted by consumers first and then grow from there."

Carolan sees vast growth potential for Sketchy as it expands to other sectors and tries to disrupt the decades old textbook industry.

"The incumbents in this space are multibillion dollar public companies and those companies have lost between 50 to 90 percent of their equity value over the last five to seven years because they haven't transitioned to digital well," Carolan said.

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