Perlego : The Spotify for Textbooks

SuperCharger Ventures
3 min readFeb 22, 2022

Having studied English Literature at university, I spent my life paying for overpriced books. Whenever I saw a second hand book shop, I’d run towards it, hoping it would present me with one of the books on my syllabus for less than £20. I’d spend at least £75 per week on books that I could not afford and that, after my exams, I’d never ever need again. For this reason, I couldn’t withhold my excitement when I came across ‘Perlego’.

In my interview with the founder, Gauthier Van Malderen, he stated, “What’s really scary is that, in the US, over 30% of students drop out because they don’t have access to relevant course content or that course materials, so it is a huge problem to solve from that perspective.” Gauthier clearly identified a very prominent pain-point in the lives of students across the world, and has created a very promising solution.

‘Perlego’ is certainly the dream of any English Literature student, as founder Van Malderen has created what he refers to as the “Spotify for books”, a subscription-based platform where, for only £12 per month, you can access hundreds of academic texts, highlight and annotate them, as well as create your own workspaces.

The company has become one of the most successful EdTech companies in the UK, having been featured in Forbes, the BBC, The Guardian and the Financial Times. Having raised $9 million in its Series A funding round in 2019, it is clear that investors saw the potential for the imminent success of this new concept, and evidently, they were right to do so, as Perlego has certainly exceeded all expectations, even those for a successful startup.

An initial struggle that might have been expected for the business was that of getting publishers onboard, as the subscription-based business model would have meant a compromise in revenue for these publishers. Furthermore, it would have been difficult for a small company with little visibility to onboard big publications. Nevertheless, Perlego got their first 100 publishers in about three to five months, a shocking achievement, and now have over 6,000 publishers. Gaunthier stated that “it’s been a bit of a flywheel effect. The first year was very hard, but then it got easier and easier. I’m very grateful to the first publishers who joined us, because that was hugely effective.”

Interestingly, the founder pointed out that publishers also suffer from revenue losses caused by both piracy and the second-hand text book market, meaning that a platform such as Perlego might be seen as a solution to these problems for them. Perhaps then, this is the main reason behind publishers agreeing to working with the platform, as Perlego may be a better alternative to the revenue losses experienced due to piracy and the second-hand book market.

Gauthier stated that, what sets Perlego apart is “ convenience, affordability, accessibility- everything in one simple space. You see that in the music industry, we’ve seen it in the movie industry… I’m very much adamant that it will happen here as well in the publishing industry”

With this new way of accessing thousands of textbooks for only £12 per month, Perlego is certainly reshaping the face of higher education, something which we at SuperCharger Ventures are always looking to support.

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Article written by : Sofia Daley Sevilla



SuperCharger Ventures

We are an EdTech accelerator with a track record of helping 49+ startups across the globe raise $500M+.