Edtech startup Rafter acquires HubEdu to lower textbook costs

Rafter, a course materials management platform that grew out of textbook rental site Bookrenter earlier this year, today announced that it had acquired four-month-old startup HubEdu. Launched in March, HubEdu provides a software platform that helps colleges and their bookstores improve efficiency and operations while reducing costs for students.

The Rafter Course Materials Network is a suite of cloud-based software that helps colleges improve how they distribute course materials, making them more affordable and effective for administrators, educators, and students alike, the company claims. HubEdu provides textbook adoption data, comparison shopping, and analytics in an effort to help schools manage their pricing. The integration of HubEdu technology into the Rafter network will give more than 500 colleges and universities the tools to make education less expensive.

The hope is that, by giving students better service and more competitive prices on course materials, schools can continue to reverse the decade-long trend of declining market share and lure students away from those pesky online merchants and predatory distributors that have been steadily eating away at their profit margins.

Rafter CEO Mehdi Maghsoodnia said the company has expanded its footprint to more than 260 active schools (500 have signed up), but the one thing campus administrators continue to ask for is more sophisticated analytics around pricing, price comparison features, as well as better tools for adoption. With HubEdu, the company will gain an inventory analytics system to optimize store pricing, tracking systems to monitor student purchase behavior and price comparison capabilities.

“The cost of tuition and education is getting higher and higher… one of our primary cost factors outside of tuition is the cost of textbooks and content,” said Maghsoodnia. “We’re trying to find the cheapest content on behalf of the students.”

Naturally, for most teachers, discovering new course content traditionally happens by word of mouth, for example. Not to mention the difficulties schools and teachers find in gaining access to the rights of course materials and ensuring fulfillment, etc.

Rafter is on a mission to bring all of these old school processes online, while partnering with universities to manage discovery, supply and distribution of textbooks, education software, and everything in between.

For individual schools, the process of navigating the complicated textbook industry (which is become increasingly complicated as more of it becomes digital and interactive) is expensive and time-consuming. But with Rafter’s platform, he said, school administrators and students can more easily weigh their content options – which range from traditional textbooks to more exotic interactive content – and make the selections that work best with their budgets.

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