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September 01, 2015

Overcoming death of CEO, ApprenNet raises $1.8 million

The edtech startup's CEO, Rachel Jacobs, died in the Amtrak derailment in May

Start-ups Technology
Rachel Jacobs Rachel Jacobs/Via LinkedIn.com

Rachel Jacobs, chief executive officer of ApprenNet, was among eight people who died in the May Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia.

Just a few months after its CEO Rachel Jacobs perished in the Amtrak train derailment, Philly edtech company ApprenNet announced that it had raised $1.8 million in funding, Technical.ly Philly reported.

"Philadelphia showed such an emotional connection to the tragedy. The community's outreach said, 'We don’t want another consequence of the tragedy being Rachel’s vision also doesn’t come to completion,'" new CEO Paul Freedman told the Philadelphia Business Journal.

The startup creates interactive, online learning videos. Investors included local funders Ben Franklin Technology Partners and Penn's Education Design Studio.

"We believe we’re going to become a Philadelphia startup success story and we want the Philly investor community to share in the upside,” ApprenNet's co-founder, Emily Foote, told Technical.ly Philly.

Moreover, although ApprenNet merged with Freedman's San Francisco company Handsfree Learning in June, the funding will mostly go toward creating jobs back here. The Philly office plans to double its 16-person staff.

Freedman told the Philadelphia Business Journal that he and Jacobs decided to merge their companies just five minutes after meeting each other at a tech conference. They were still working on the terms of the deal when Jacobs died in May.

"Rachel was an incredible business leader but also a really incredible person, which is something that people who were lucky enough to know her knew about the story," he told PBJ. "I’m super humbled to be responsible for implementing what was her vision."