Junyo Debuts EdLights To Probe School Needs

column | Big Data

Junyo Debuts EdLights To Probe School Needs

Company aims to provide comprehensive school and district data to school vendors

By Betsy Corcoran (Columnist)     Jun 3, 2013

Junyo Debuts EdLights To Probe School Needs

Junyo, the high-profile startup run by former Zynga cofounder, Steve Schoettler, launches EdLights today, its new approach to exploring school needs.

EdLights aims to make great use of data about schools to help publishers and other school suppliers find the most likely customers. To build EdLights, Junyo has combined commercially available data (such as mailing lists) with more than 100 public data sets, creating collections that have millions of data points on the 18,500 districts and 103,500 schools in the US--"nearly every U.S. public school," according to the company.

As a result, publishers will be able to drill down into schools and identify the needs of groups within those communities. (See the screenshot above).

Other information groups, particularly MDR, have traditionally provided market data, lists of potential customers and advertising information for vendors, albeit for hefty fees. EdLights is aiming to compete face on with such services.

EdLights is notably different than what Junyo had originally intended to build. Originally the company aimed to use its data management skills to help schools answer the question: What should we teach students next? Yet the more closely Junyo worked with leading school groups, the more it found itself tugged in too many directions and trying to solve too many problems. Last September, to the dismay of its school partners, Schoettler said Junyo would "pivot" and head in a different direction. Even so, it pledged to continue to support its existing school partners through the end of the school year.

Schoettler says that Junyo has made good on that promise: "We followed through on our commitment to schools and kept developing [work in progress] through December," he says. Even now, Junyo continues to support the schools' use of that software through the end of June.

EdLights' simpler--and lucrative--approach is to offer a comprehensive and well-organized snapshot of schools and their needs.

Significant data about schools is already publicly available, such as which schools are meeting their achievement goals, as well as the demographics of both districts and schools. Junyo is pulling together that wide variety of sources--and wrapping it with an intuitive interface. That way, publishers may be able to identify even groups within schools that have special needs, such as English Language Learners.

"EdLights will help publishers get the products to the right schools and…not waste schools' time" Schoettler declares.

Junyo plans to sell its data in three different packages: its $79 per month "Prospector" subscription pulls together much data in an easy-to-use interface; a $4,000 enterprise version, EdLights File Service, will send companies CSV data designed to fit in companies' existing databases. And for an undisclosed price, EdLights will make available the names (and addresses) of thousands of relevant school employees.

It already has 30 customers. Schoettler expects Junyo could be cash-flow positive by next year. The company size is still comparable to what it was at the beginning of the school year: Junyo currently employs about 18 people including five sales staff that are based around the US and whom it hired within the past few months.

Schoettler is cheerful about Junyo's new direction: "There's a ton of disorganized information," he says. "There’s a lot of need to organize the data from both the supplier side and consumer side."

EdLight is the first of what Schoettler envisions as a series of information products for school suppliers. "We can go broader and add colleges and post secondary institutions," he says. "We can also go deeper. There are still a lot of things about schools that people say they would be interested in learning," he says.

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