THINKCERCA: $1.5 million to Chicago, IL-based ThinkCERCA in a seed round from Chuck Templeton of Impact Engine Accelerator, Deborah Quazzo (founder of GSV Advisors), Bob Montgomery, Nessan Fitzmaurice and Abundant Ventures.
Founded in 2012, ThinkCERCA offers an online library of lessons and assessments designed to help students in grades 4-12 develop critical thinking and analytical skills across all school subjects. “We are not just a core supplement to English language arts,” says CEO Eileen Murphy, “but also used in science and social studies classes. Teams of teachers use ThinkCERCA.”
At a time when edtech startups rely on the “freemium” model to reach individual teachers first and upsell to schools later, ThinkCERCA is flipping the script. “We are an enterprise product first,” Murphy states. “Our very first product after we came out of the [Impact Engine] accelerator was delivered to paying customers at the school level. It is really important for us to establish school reference customers before going after districts.”
ThinkCERCA says it has 110 schools in 11 states as paying subscribers, serving over 20,000 students. In December 2013, it released a free version that includes a limited collection of lessons, content and assessments. So far it’s been used by 3,535 teachers across 46 states and 26 countries.
By the end of 2014, Murphy expects to reach at least 40,000 students in the U.S. To do that, she says she’ll need to grow her team (currently 13 employees) and raise a Series A round.