Awkward? Last December, news spread that edtech startup, Clever, had raised series A round funding from one of Silicon Valley's blue bloods, Sequoia. Anything left to say?
Now the company is spilling the details: The number is $10.3 million. The deal was indeed led by Sequoia and partner Bryan Schreier is joining the two-man board. (Chief executive and cofounder, Tyler Bosmeny, is also on the board.) Other investors include Paul Graham (who started Y Combinator), Sam Altman (who's now running Y Combinator) and Deborah Quazzo (GSV Advisors).
All told, Clever has raised more than $13.3 million from investors.
And yes, Clever continues to grow wildly: In just two years, the company has found a home in one out of eight US K-12 schools--about 18,000 of them. It's tightly focused on one task: Enabling applications to reach inside of school information systems (SIS) and grab class rosters and other data so that the applications can be set up and run by a school in mere minutes.
Schreier says that Sequoia doesn't invest in "sectors" -- it just looks for promising companies and entrepreneurs. Sequoia also has stakes in edtech companies Inkling, Piazza and Mindsnacks. Says Schreier: Clever is the fastest growing edtech he has ever seen. He expects it will have a long future as an independent company.
Clever's business model is something that investors swoon over: Clever is free to schools. It sells to the edtech companies that (in turn) sell their applications to schools.
And all that popularity now puts Clever in a surprisingly influential position on a subject increasingly dear to many schools: data security. CEO Bosmeny says that Clever has focused on security issues from the start, encrypting all of its data communications with HTTPS and offering two-factor authentication. It also subjected itself to an outside consultant's security review (and did indeed pass.)
Clever increasingly demands that the applications it connects into school abide by FERPA, or the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
"We focus on security because it's the right thing to do," says cofounder, Dan Carroll. "But we've also found that the way Clever protects student information has become one of the reasons big districts (like Miami-Dade, LAUSD, and Houston ISD) and big companies (Amplify, NWEA, Google) have been rapidly adopting Clever.
That's one way to get companies on the secure data bandwagon.