Collaboration and learning network for students and researchers Function Space, has raised seed funding from Nexus Venture Partners. Following this investment, Nexus Ventures Partners Co-founder and MD Sandeep Singhal will join the company’s board.
The company will use the funding to improve content, develop tools, and expand its contributor and user base that creates content related to the fields of mathematics and science. Function Space co-founder Sumit Maniyar says that the one year old service receives 100,000 unique visitors a month and has 10,000 registered users from 190 countries.
New tools: Function Space is working on tools that will let people write equations using a WYSIWYG interface, so that one does not need to learn the document markup language LaTeX that is used as of now. It is also building a diagramming tool so people can make scientific diagrams and even draw circuits from within a browser without downloading a file. Other tools being developed include scientific chart converter and computational terminal. All these tools can also be used within a collaborative editing tool on the lines of GitHub or Google Docs, that is in the works.
Function Space is also working on mobile apps for APIs for its platform that should be released in the coming months. This is apart from the personalization options being added so that someone who is new to the field is not intimidated by some of the high-level science. Similarly, these tools will also help experts from being put off by basic scientific queries, which is an issue with Quora.
MOOCs or QnA: It is a mix of both, but the primary goal according to Maniyar is collaborative learning. The company is targeting professionals in the field as of now, who might have expert knowledge in a domain and is looking for a place to find about latest information in that domain.
“When we spoke to some of these professionals, they told us that they don’t hang out at websites such as Khan Academy as that is not new knowledge for them. Also, social learning is not easily possible at massive scale with video. You can’t have a pure QnA website like Quora because learning is a continuous process. We are focusing on two kinds of audience, the first are people who want to learn just about a specific branch of science which they are new to and the second are those who want to make a career in the field. We are focusing more on the second group as of now,” he says.
On user acquisition: “We are focusing on domain experts as of now. So we have contacted a few professors in US-based universities. We are concentrating on getting such people from US and Europe since these regions have advanced higher education systems. Most of these people hang out at Reddit or Hackerspace, but the best way to reach out to them are through forums that might be specific to universities or even states. In India, we will also be organising contests in IITs later this year,” Maniyar says.
Monetization: “Right now we are not focusing on monetization. Once we reach critical mass we may adopt a freemium model or a marketplace model. We could offer a jobs solution or turn into a publication platform. All this depends on the sort of user base we get,” Maniyar says.