LEARNSPROUT: This recent Imagine K12 graduate is on the move, having just closed a round with Andreessen Horowitz, Formation 8 (headed by the co-founder of Palantir), Benjamin Ling, Philip Fung, Luke Shepard, and others. In addition, the team will be part of Code for America's inaugural accelerator program. Not bad indeed for a startup just out of the water.
In a nutshell, the startup provides an API to enable the secure transfer of SIS data between schools and developers. (Clever recently announced its entry in this space as well.) LearnSprout's clean-cut API sample doc makes wonderfully clear some of its capabilities. Developers no longer have to deal with convoluted CSV files and painstaking manual database entries, and schools can use a simple "one-click install" to get hooked up and running with different software. LearnSprout comes free to schools but developers will have to pay--unless they bring in a new school to use the service.
Given that SIS data silos has always been a pain point for all edtech players involved, LearnSprout appears to have hit this nail on its head. This need, though, wasn't always so clearly manifest: the team originally intended to build another SIS or LMS (something akin to Canvas' Instructure) upon applying to IK12. But after a month and a half, during which the team had built its own SIS prototype, it realized that getting schools to move off existing platforms would be a near insurmountable feat. Years of voluminous data don't export smoothly, and certainly does not import cleanly (if at all) to new systems. Schools preferred to keep what they have but still be able to use implement new tools.
Customers are always right (or so they say), and so the team pivoted to supply the demand. So far so good, according to co-founder Franklyn Chien, who estimates that LearnSprout effectively covers 60-70% of the 100+ SIS's currently used in the U.S. The team has implemented its services in over forty schools, with another 200 in progress. Perhaps most importantly, it's seeing some sweet green revenue.