ApplyBoard, the fast-growing Waterloo Region company that simplifies the application process for international students, has announced a Series D raise of CDN$375 million and a new valuation of CDN$4 billion.

The CDN$375 million raise is the biggest private investment round ever for a Waterloo Region tech company, according to a search of Crunchbase records.

"With limited international travel over the past year, we are seeing pent-up demand from students looking to study abroad,” said Martin Basiri, co-founder and CEO. “We are excited for what this new investment will allow us to accomplish to help our students, partner institutions, and recruitment partners, so that our industry can build back better in a post-COVID world."

ApplyBoard has seen a 400-per-cent year-over-year increase in applications on its platform from international students wanting to study abroad. The latest infusion of capital will be used to address this growing demand by developing new products and expanded support teams, particularly in the three destination countries that ApplyBoard added in 2020 and 2021: the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.

“Every institution in every country is different, but on the whole we are seeing promising signs from our partner schools that in-person classes will be expanded in fall 2021,” said David Tubbs, ApplyBoard’s Director of Marketing Communications. “This trend, of course, will be wholly dependent on ongoing vaccination efforts and changes in government public health policy.”

A portion of the latest investment raise will also be allotted as a secondary offering for all current employees who have vested stock and wish to exercise their options, Tubbs said.

ApplyBoard continues to hire across Waterloo Region and beyond.

“Of our 1,000 global team members we have just over 400 located in Waterloo Region and just under 600 across Ontario,” Tubbs said.

ApplyBoard was started in 2015 by Basiri and his two brothers, Massi and Meti, all of whom travelled to Waterloo Region from Iran to attend university. They saw an opportunity to streamline the search, application and acceptance processes for students wanting to pursue their high school and post-secondary education in a foreign country.

In its early stages, the company tapped into support from the University of Waterloo’s Velocity program, Communitech’s Rev accelerator and two programs at Waterloo’s Accelerator Centre.

Six years later, the Kitchener-based company says it has helped more than 200,000 students from more than 125 countries, involving more than 1,500 institutions across Canada, Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom. 

ApplyBoard’s rapid growth has led to the doubling of its global workforce to more than 1,000 employees, the company said. It has also developed new products and services over the past year, including ApplyProof, which helps admissions officers and immigration officials validate the authenticity of documents such as English test scores and letters of acceptance.

The latest round of financing was led by the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board through its Teachers’ Innovation Platform, which funds late-stage venture and growth-equity tech companies. Existing investors Fidelity Management & Research Company LLC, BDC, Harmonic, Index Ventures, Garage Capital, and Blue Cloud Ventures also participated in the round. 

Since its founding, ApplyBoard has raised CDN$600 million.

“At Ontario Teachers’, we have a fundamental belief in top-quality education,” said Olivia Steedman, Senior Managing Director, TIP. “ApplyBoard’s technology platform is simplifying the process of connecting students and educational institutions and creating greater opportunities for education globally.”